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Flexible friend for trainees

LEARNING TO TEACH DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY IN THE SECONDARY SCHOOL. A Companion to School Experience. Edited by Gwyneth Owen-Jackson. RoutledgeFalmer pound;16.99

Students attracted to teaching design and technology come from very diverse backgrounds: recent graduates to experienced professionals (this year I met a balloon artist and a boat builder). The editor, aware of this, has structured the book to suit a range of needs and above all to support and extend initial teacher education courses and school-based experience.

All 13 chapters contain common key features: a highlighted objectives box at the start, a range of tasks, a summary and a further reading list at the end. I welcome this as students can dip in and out of chapters or read it from cover to cover. Chapters devoted to the specialist areas focus on resistant materials, food, systems and control (called control and systems) teaching strategies and learning progression.

There is plenty of good practical advice and resistant materials and systems and control specialists will find useful subject overviews of textiles and food. I fear, however, that students with other backgrounds may find the control and systems chapter daunting. Long lists of systems and subsystems are far from user friendly.

But where are graphic products? I would argue that graphics is the "language" of design and technology. It cuts across all materials areas enabling students to present and explain their ideas on paper. Graphics is referred to a number of times and its omission as a materials area is a bit baffling.

Appropriately a chapter is devoted to health and safety. Sound guidance on carrying out thorough risk assessments will reinforce the safety awareness and training content of college ITE courses.

The chapter on ICT is a good starting point for students to begin to appreciate how it can enrich the Damp;T curriculum and enhance teaching and learning.

The crucial areas of learning, planning, teaching and assessment are addressed in four separate chapters. College ITE courses cover these aspects in great detail and this section will add to students' experience - sound advice and helpful planning pro formas.

This is quite a useful, flexible companion to training and, in spite of the omission of graphics and the rather "clunky" chapter on control and systems, will help students through their ITE courses and school teaching practices.

Roz Reyburn is head of the technology faculty, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School, Islington, north London

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