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Early learning on offer

Collins Primary English. Evaluation Packs years 1-6. Collins Pounds 50-Pounds 60 each.

These sampler packs offer a reasonably priced entry point into Collins Primary English. They set out to cover core skills in all three areas of literacy, with material arranged into thematic units.

As an example, Jenny's Week at level 2 targets reading for details, diary-writing, considering purpose and audience, and practice in identifying and responding to everyday sounds. But while curriculum coverage may be comprehensive, the pick-and-mix approach within each context often appears artificial.

Some of the activity is restrictive, such as closed questioning. For instance a picture caption: "Centipedes have lots of legs" is followed by the question: "What do centipedes have lots of?" Elsewhere in the same pupil's book: "Is Mars hot?" deserves more than the simple negative it gets.

Some units mix exploration of factual text with creative writing tasks, which blurs the prime purpose of honing early research skills. Most teachers would probably prefer a more focused approach to teaching specific skills and would rather choose their own topics and contexts for using and applying language.

The teacher's guide is the heart of the scheme and might usefully serve as a supplementary resource for language planning and teaching. With a high dependence on reprographics and 24-page pupil books costing as much as 10 pence a page, however, Collins Primary English would be fairly expensive as a core language resource.

A special offer of Pounds 40 at level 1 saves Pounds 10 on the contents, while you can collect the contents of level 2 for Pounds 12.20 less than the face value. You get the teacher's resource book, samples of pupil workbooks and a cassette that provides some good recordings of stories and poems. Levels 1 to 4 evaluation packs are available now, with the others due before next April.

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