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Declared fit for the new Order

SCIENCE WORLD. Teacher's Resource Books 1, 2 and 3, Edited by John Holman.Nelson, Pounds 29.99 each. STARTING SCIENCE. Books 1 and 2, By Alan Fraser and Ian Gilchrist. Book 3, By Tony Partridge. Oxford University Press Pounds 8.99 each.

KEY STAGE 3 SCIENCE HOMEWORK AND CLASSROOM ASSIGNMENTS. By Andrew Porter,Maria Wood and Trevor Wood. Stanley Thornes Pounds 58.50 NEW UNDERSTANDING SCIENCE BOOK 1. By Joe Boyd, Walter Whitelaw Student's Book Pounds 8.50. Teacher's Resource File Pounds 35 John Murray.

Lynne Marjoram examines revised editions of established lower secondary texts, newly brought in line with the Dearing version of the national curriculum. These key stage 3 science courses have tackled their update for the revised national curriculum in different ways.

Not surprisingly, Science World, the most recently published in 1994, has seen least change. Nelson have retained original editions of the Student's Books and much of the original Teacher's Resource Books - the photocopiable activity sheets and tests, comprising two-thirds of each book.

The teacher's notes are unchanged except for cross-referencing to the national curriculum. Content is referenced to the revised programme of study, with full listings at the beginning of each book; one hopes these five pages are given to owners of the first edition.

Helpful guidance on teacher assessment of activities has national curriculum references updated, but the text is mostly the same. No need, then, to rush to replace Science World, but first-time buyers get an up-to-date resource.

Minimal changes also to Starting Science, despite its age Books 1 and 2 are 10 years old, pre-dating the national curriculum. In the new editions, presentation, text and page numbers remain the same; a few illustrations are updated - newer cars and Eurostar trains.

To complete national curriculun coverage, two short chapters are added to the end of Book 3. One, on Forces explains pressure clearly, with lovely photographs of stiletto heels and elephants. The section on speed seems compressed, but it is revision of earlier material. The Light chapter extends earlier work on reflection and refraction and has a clear final section on colour. It is possible to use these new editions alongside the old ones.

Stanley Thornes have retained the 1994 edition of their Science Companion pupils book, and to support it have published Key Stage 3 Science Homework and Classroom Assignments, rather pricey, at Pounds 58.50,yet probably a worthwhile investment for many science departments.

It provides a comprehensive bank of free-standing, photocopiable homeworks for key stage 3 science. There are 90 topics, with two different homeworks per topic. One is always an A4 write-on sheet, with various less formal tasks - word puzzles, sentence completions, data handling etc. These are well presented with helpful diagrams, spacious lay-out and accessible text.

The other homework in each topic covers different content and comes in two versions, allowing for differentiation. Both versions cover the same content; the simpler version sometimes includes more structured questions.

No stigma will be attached to using either version, as they look identical at a glance, and the differences in questions are subtle. To reduce photocopying costs, they come as re-usable A5 question sheets. Each homework is designed to take about 30 minutes; all answers are provided.

Resources like these are often disappointing, but not here. They offer enough homeworks for an entire key stage 3 course, professionally produced to a high standard, accessible to a wide ability range, adaptable to most courses, easy for teachers to use, with good quality questions to interest most students.

Teachers will set other, more open-ended homeworks too, but for covering basic content, it would be difficult to better these materials.

The most substantial revision is New Understanding Science. A slightly larger, almost A4 pupils' book, with a smaller, less dense typeface, has more space on the pages. The chapter order is altered, there are a few new spreads, slight alterations to text elsewhere, and some updating of illustrations. Measurement is now incorporated into chapter 1, there is a new basic chemistry chapter, and chapter 7 includes a coy spread on human reproduction: the useful illustrations remain in the teachers' guide.

Extension work at the end of the pupils' book includes several new spreads and changes to instructions for experiments give pupils more responsibility for experiment design.

The Teacher's Resource File, a bulky A4 ring binder, has an extended introduction with ubiquitous spreads on IT, differentiation and national curriculum analysis.

Teacher's notes are revised to match the pupils' book, and content lists cross-referenced to the revised programme of study. There are some extra photocopiable resource sheets, and additional test questions.

New introductions are "learning logs", summary and homework sheets. The learning log comprises one, mostly blank, A4 sheet per chapter (seven in total), where students summarise the main points under several sub-headings. The summary sheets (statement completion) cover similar ground. Two A5 open-ended homeworks per chapter involve information seeking, surveys and so on, linking classroom with everyday experience.

It would be difficult to use the new pupil's book alongside the old (first editions remain in print). Departments replacing their stock might also consider recently developed materials which give more direct support on differentiation.

Lynne Marjoram is head of science at Kidbrooke comprehensive school in south-east London

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