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Using ebooks to support reading for pleasure in 2023: A survey of primary school teachers

Added 02 Nov 2023 | Updated 03 Nov 23

Children with tablets

In partnership with Pearson, this research looks at teachers’ experiences of, and attitudes to, using ebooks to support children's reading for enjoyment.

516 primary school teachers and other school and support staff participated in our online survey between June and July 2023, with 470 responding to a question about using digital tools and resources in the classroom. Of this group, nearly 3 in 5 (56%, n = 263) teachers said they used digital tools and resources to support literacy in the classroom.

Key findings

Benefits of digital support for reading for pleasure:

  • Around 3 in 5 (56.0%) primary teachers use digital tools and resources to support literacy in the classroom.
  • Within the group of teachers who used digital tools, three times as many of those who said their pupils had access to ebooks rated their school’s culture of reading for pleasure as ‘excellent’ compared with those whose pupils didn’t have access to ebooks (17.7% vs 5.9%).
  • Both groups felt that ebooks could support reading for pleasure in all children. 1 in 2 (48.5%) teachers whose pupils did not have access to ebooks thought this would be a benefit, while 3 in 4 (76.0%) of those whose pupils did have access to ebooks experienced this as a benefit.
  • While nearly 1 in 5 (18.3%) teachers who use digital tools to support literacy believed reading on paper is better than reading on screen, 3 in 4 (73.5%) agreed that it is important to offer different reading formats to support children’s reading.
  • However, only 1 in 3 (32.7%) teachers who use digital tools say their pupils have access to a school ebook library, and just 1 in 6 (16.0%) have access at home.

Barriers to using ebook libraries: training, confidence and evidence of impact

  • Almost 2 in 3 (64.9%) teachers whose pupils didn’t have an ebook library said an important barrier was a lack of CPD or other training, while almost half (47.2%) cited staff confidence in using digital tools.
  • For those whose pupils did have access to ebooks, the top three barriers to their use also included staff confidence (45.5%). This group also felt that a lack of information about evidence-based digital tools (41.6%) and concern about the effectiveness of digital tools and resources (39.6%) were important barriers to use.

These findings suggest that teachers might benefit from improved support, training and resources around reading digitally and better information about the evidence base.

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