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And the award goes to..

Publishers - here and in England - are getting better at hitting the mark for the Scottish curriculum, making it harder to select the best, writes Gillian Macdonald

Saltire Society Award Winner. Citizenship FoundationHodder Gibson. Young Citizen's Passport Scotland

Highly commended. National Archives of ScotlandLearning and Teaching Scotland. Scotland in the 16th Century The Jacobites Victorian Scotland. Hodder Gibson. Close Reading 11-14

Every year the judging of the Saltire SocietyTES Scotland award for educational publications becomes more interesting. Not only are the books more imaginative and bang up to date, but they target their audiences better and meet the needs of the curriculum.

Scottish publishers are to be praised for the quality of material they are now producing for schools, said the judging panel of teachers and academics; and some English publishers have really upped their game in Scotland. Entries from companies such as Nelson were now properly targeted, not just tokenistic.

There was lots of material which filled important gaps. Leckie and Leckie, for example, was bringing out notes for every Standard grade and Higher subject and this is to be encouraged. It is part of the purpose of the Saltire award, said Gerald Mortimer, the chairman of the judges.

Particularly striking this year was the very good use of the increasing amount of Scottish source material coming out, particularly in literature and history. Learning and Teaching Scotland had published a number of Scots language texts, the National Archives for Scotland had tapped into a seam of valuable resources, and Hodder Gibson had produced Campaigning for Change using documents on social change in 20th century Scotland.

But the judges were unanimous in believing they had an "excellent" winner in Hodder Gibson's Young Citizen's Passport Scotland (a Scottish edition of an English booklet), edited and largely written by Tony Thorpe, devised by the Citizenship Foundation and produced in association with the Law Society of Scotland.

The pocketbook is original and important, giving young people invaluable advice. It won for its appealing format, designed by Mike Gibas and Nomad Graphique, and its immense contribution to social education. From advice on HIV and sexual assault to faulty goods and unfair dismissal, the police and Scottish law, it contains a range of entries that could be debated by teenagers in a constructive way. It is highly appropriate for its audience and fills a gap in the market with its bite-sized information.

"Every pupil leaving school should be given this," the judges said.

Two other entries were highly commended. The first was the National Archives of Scotland material published by Learning and Teaching Scotland on Scotland in the 16th Century, The Jacobites and Victorian Scotland, by Margaret McBryde and Marion Cuthbertson and designed by Lindsey Duffus and Marion McCluskey. These three books marked a very positive development, opening up and providing new sources in an imaginative way. They will, said the judges, make children aware that these events actually happened and the accompanying CD-Rom would allow them to hear material read in real Scots.

The other commendation went to Hodder Gibson's Close Reading 11-14, written by Mary Firth and Andrew Ralston and designed by Lynda King. This gives extracts from up-to-date novels, such as Roddy Doyle's Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, which would encourage students to read the full books. It was "much needed", in the view of the judges, and contained good activities, looking at language through text. It also provides an excellent link from primary to secondary English.

A number of other books received special mention. Campaigning for Change: Social Change in Scotland 1900-1979 (Hodder Gibson) fills an important gap for Intermediate history, targeting the audience with the right level of language. "If you want a book to teach the course immediately, that's it," the judges said (see page 9).

Target Reading Accuracy, Target Reading Comprehension, Target Listening and Understanding in Primary Schools and Target Listening and Understanding in Secondary Schools (Barrington Stoke) received a very positive mention.

Although all four books are aimed specifically at teachers, they contain a lot of material for which there was a great need. There are plenty of diagnostic checklists and questions, and resources that would be very helpful for formative assessment (see page 9).

Nick Hern Books won special praise for its adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon's Sunset Song. There is, said the judges, a "tremendous amount in a compressed form about the original book". It is a nice summary of a book that might be inaccessible to lower ability pupils but doing it as a play might help them, and it would work well with drama teachers (see page 10).

Hodder Gibson's Standard Grade Computing Studies (second edition, with answers) was considered a "cracking edition that is up to date and hugely different from its predecessor". There is a lot of knowledge and understanding in it and the judges were very impressed by its lucidity and the way it led pupils in to the necessary preliminaries.

Finally, Leckie and Leckie was praised for its Standard Grade Modern Studies: Course Notes and Higher Geography Course Notes. Both cater for a need in the market and would help schools struggling to raise attainment.

The marked examples of pupils' work were noted as particularly helpful.

This year's judges were: Tom Bryce, professor of education at Strathclyde University, Jim McGonigle, PT history at Hermitage Academy, Helensburgh; Alistair McMillan, PT chemistry at Castlehead High, Paisley; Alice Dumphy, headteacher, and Christine Ford, teacher, at St Mungo's Primary, Glasgow; Gerald Mortimer (chairman), formerly of Strathclyde University; and Gillian Macdonald, assistant editor of TES Scotland

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