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If you want your kids to do well at school, give them books, a recent Ofsted report said.

The analysis (the result of official records collected from 6,000 British primary schools by Ofsted school inspectors) found that spending £100 on books for a school kid will inspire an average 1.5 per cent rise in their test scores. Give the kid £100 of computer equipment and their results will increase only 0.72 per cent.

But the researchers, Malcolm Dixon of Liverpool's John Moores University, Steve Hurd of the Open University, and Joanna Oldham of Liverpool Hope University, found that primary school heads have far less money to spend on books. One head said he had a budget of £50 a year for certain subjects. Another said money set aside for books was getting pilfered for other uses.

The Times Educational Supplement (TES), which broke this story, reported stark differences in school spending on books and computers back in February.

Spending on books in primary and secondary schools in 2004-05 was £150m, the TES reported. Just a portion of measured ICT spending for the classroom over the same period was £426.3m. This money went on software and equipment, such as whiteboards. It excluded the spend on the computers themselves and, presumably, networking and services as well.

According to The Telegraph newspaper, the Publisher's Association recorded a fall in money spent on school books from £21.84 per pupil in 1999 to £16.65 in 2003-04. ®

See also: Schools spend more on IT than books.

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