Tue, 28 May 2024

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe now
The House Live All
Raising attainment and alleviating challenges in schools Partner content
Addressing the teacher recruitment and retention crisis Partner content
Press releases

Government’s “Patriotic” Jubilee Books For Schools Produced Abroad Due To Lack Of UK Printers


3 min read

A free commemorative book which was sent to primary school children to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee was mainly printed in Italy as there was no UK publisher big enough to produce all 4.5 million copies.

Last summer it emerged that the Department for Education was planning to deliver a copy of the “unique gift” to every primary school child in the UK at a total cost of £12m.

The contract was given to British publisher DK, who was asked to ensure the book was “written with the aim of being inclusive, patriotic and ‘speaking to all children’ with regard to all regions of the UK", according to the contract.

But Schools Week has revealed that three of the four sub-contracted printers are based in Italy, while the fourth is based in Glasgow, Scotland. 

A DK spokesperson said due to the “sheer size of the print run it was not possible to find a UK publisher with the capacity to fulfil the entire order”.

Naomi Smith, chief executive of internationalist campaign group Best for Britain, said it “underlines the interconnectedness that remains between the UK and European markets.

“This is a clear indication that a strong relationship with our closest trading partner is essential, even if it’s just to deliver a dash of patriotism.”

Caroline Derbyshire, chair of the Headteachers Roundtable, said priniting the patriotic book abroad was “pretty ironic”. 

“It shows how much we depend on collaborating with our friends in Europe even when we are celebrating our own traditions,” she added. 

The book, which was delivered to schools throughout May, tells the story of a young girl called Isabella visiting her great granny Joyce who tells her about the Queen and this year’s Jubilee.

It also included famous quotes from the Queen, facts on the coronation ceremony, content on the lives of famous Commonwealth figures such as Nelson Mandela, notable kings and queens and a timeline of Queen Elizabeth’s life.

Alongside producing books, the Department for Education also commissioned a series of teaching resources for primary and secondary school teachers “to assist them in delivering a lesson and/or assembly on the Queen and her reign”.

Britain is home to 20,807 primary schools, and just under 5 million pupils attend state primaries alone.

Schools in Scotland and Wales were required to opt-in to receive copies of the book, which will be delivered in late September.

The government previously faced criticism for producing key products abroad after it was reported in 2018 that a French company had won the contract to produce Britain's new dark blue “Brexit” passports.

The move was condemned by then-back bench MP Priti Patel, who called the decision “disgraceful” and “perverse” as she urged the government to intervene.

She told The Sun at the time: “This should be a moment that we should be celebrating. The return of our iconic blue passport will re-establish the British identity.

“But to be putting the job in the hands of the French is simply astonishing. It is a national humiliation."

Labour said it was “farcical” that the government had given the contract to Gemalto “at the expense of the British economy”.

PoliticsHome Newsletters

PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Read the most recent article written by Eleanor Langford - Who Is Going On Strike And When In February?