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Fabric of business

Textiles and Clothing

Developed by Marks and Spencer plc, the British Apparel and Textile Confederation and CAPITB Trust, (the clothing industry training organisation), the Department for Education and Employment and the Department of Trade and Industry

Published by IBEC Trust, Kings College, Hampstead, Bay House, Kidderpore Avenue, London NW3 7ST. Pack 1 Materials. Pounds 30 Pack 2 Product Development Pounds 50 Pack 3 Industrial Applications Pounds 40

Patricia Tarrant Brown reviews a trade-generated resource for textile students

The textiles and clothing guide hardly drops lightly through the letterbox. At nine kilogrammes, it must be the weightiest publication on the teaching of textiles and, at Pounds 14 per kilo, the most expensive. But open it and you begin to see that it is worth every penny.

This guide comes in three files jam-packed with information, on laminated photocopiable sheets, mostly in full colour and brought vividly to life by swatches of fabrics, fibre samples and punchy video material.

Over the past few years, publications for teaching textiles have improved considerably. In a bid to engage the interest of more young people, the old "how to" craft books have given way to a "textiles is fun" message and GCSE syllabuses have encouraged steps in the direction of industry.

This publication takes a serious and well-timed leap into the real world of modern textile manufacturing and will provide heaps of motivation for students at all levels of compulsory education.

The unique aspect of this guide is the generously sized samples of fabrics and fibres, which literally give a real feel for the subject. The visual material shows both male and female employees working with a range of sophisticated machinery. The text is well illustrated and comprehensive with built-in checks in the form of recap material devised to keep students interested.

Pack 1 Materials has an exhaustive section on textile creation but then digresses into a company simulation designed to make the students apply their learning.

The title of Pack 2, Product Development, neatly side-steps the concept of "design", which makes some textiles teachers nervous. Each section is accompanied by teacher's notes and resource cards. Laminated posters describe all the key processes and will add an industrial flavour to the classroom.

The accompanying video is wide ranging, although gaps in the narrative give it a slightly surreal quality. Teachers may find it best used in stages backed up with practical activities.

Pack 3, Industrial Applications has a personal flavour, to which students respond well. The video shows industrialists talking in a friendly way about the industry and familiar terms such as design specification, product evaluation and computer-aided design appear on screen alongside positive images of employees in a variety of jobs.

Both GCSE design and technology and GNVQ students will find plenty of support material in the case studies, and a focus on production and distribution systems. Indeed there is enough for any advanced-level candidate to tackle. While the detail may not always be relevant, students will benefit enormously from seeing their own activity in the wider context presented here.

The Clothing and Textile Guide has been produced by industrialists, teachers and trainers and piloted in 50 schools around the country. Teachers will find the text enlightening. It gives them an opportunity to delve into the textile world at their own pace. With the weight of the industry behind it, this resource will help to support any teacher's argument for maintaining textiles as a key subject in the design and technology curriculum.

Patricia Tarrant Brown teaches textiles at Brownhills Community School, Walsall, and is involved in the development of textiles within the new NEABWJEC Design and Technology A-level syllabus

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