In the mid twentieth century, most high schools had a general purpose fee designed to cover extras for student use that was supplied by the education authorities. Each year, parent bought textbooks for their students to use only to sell them at the end of the year or keep them for other family siblings.
Two problems began to occur for parents. The first was that textbooks were becoming expensive; new additions of textbooks were created when syllabus were being modernised.
This led to the administration in many schools to introduce a textbook hire scheme. It incorporated the general purpose fee as well. Although there was initial dissatisfaction with the idea, it soon became universally accepted.
There were reasons for this.
- It saved parents money.
- For parents on a strict budget, schools allowed parents to pay by instalments.
- Parents did not need to shop around to buy the text books.
- Every student had a textbook of the same edition which was helpful both to the student and the teacher in the classroom.
- By clever budgeting, school had extra fund to devote to other projects in particular the introduction of computer technology both in the classroom and in the school administration.
- With textbooks being kept in good repair, often department heads had uncommitted funds to use to provide extra teaching resources to be available for classroom use.
- When a new syllabus had to be introduced, the school had room to provide fund for the subject department to purchase class set of new textbooks to evaluate them with classes before a final textbook was selected. These class sets would become a teaching resource.
- Booksellers were keen for a school to select their textbooks and were happy to arrange generous payment schemes.
- Over time, the scheme allowed to school to become well-resourced in all subject areas and extra-curricular activities.
Obviously, there are organisational issues to be overcome.
- The development of a whole school budget.
- Deciding on how each area of the school should have money allocated for the running of their department or activity.
- The creation of those budgets and then the acceptance of those budgets in part or totally by the administration.
- The decision on what will be the cost of the textbook hire scheme to parents.
- The collection of that money; when, how and by whom.
- A policy for defaulters or slow payers.
Much time will be spent initially developing a process. This process must be seen as one in development until the system is refined to suit the school culture and its clientele. A well-developed system will, in the short to long term, create a well-resourced school with happy well education graduates.