Science Key Stage OneScottish Levels A-B. By Brian Pengelly and Georgina Beasley. Life Processes and Living Things Key Stage TwoScottish Levels C-E. By Frances Mackay Scholastic Pounds 11.99 each
This new Curriculum Bank series aims to cover all the primary curriculum subjects with separate books for key stages 1 and 2 and for Scottish levels A-B and C-E. The idea is that each book should be used in a flexible way - the bank of activities forming the basis of a comprehensive, structured scheme of work. Alternatively, they can be used to add breadth and variety to an existing scheme or to supplement a particular topic.
They aim to enable children to develop the required national curriculum skills, knowledge and understanding. Throughout, due emphasis is placed on the importance of progression, differentiation and assessment.
The individual books are well-structured and accessible with a common format which appears to work well. The introductory section gives a clear overall picture, and detailed lesson plans for each activity include manageable learning objectives.
The plans also indicate the time needed and whether the activity is more suitable for whole-class teaching, group or individual work. A balance is struck between these different organisational arrangements; a balance that reflects the authors' understanding of fitness for purpose in respect of the proposed content.
Teachers are provided with key background information about the particular topic or theme, and about basic skills that need to be developed. There is advice on lesson preparation, content and necessary resources, and easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions are provided for each activity.
Modifications for less-able pupils and extending the activities for the more able are suggested. Formative assessment opportunities are highlighted, as are possibilities for information technology. Many of the activities are supported by photocopiable activity sheets.
Useful grids are incorporated in each book. The helpful overview grid provides a resume of all the suggested lesson plans so the totality of the learning objectives and their relationship to the national curriculum and Scottish 5-14 requirements can be seen at a glance. Two other grids identify information technology links and cross-curriculum links.
Assessment is dealt with in a systematic manner. Each activity presents advice on what the teacher should look out for while it is being undertaken.
Activities at the end of each chapter are designed to provide a summative "measure" of a range of key competences related to the particular curriculum focus. A link is made between learning objectives and the assessment of learning outcomes.
The authors represent a range of expertise from university lecturers to curriculum advisory teachers, and from headteacher to class teachers. Too often these kinds of materials can be portrayed as a quick fix recipe of ideas. This particular series, however, is thoughtfully presented and I found the first six books well written by authors with a good knowledge of the content.They will be a useful addition to the planning and assessment repertoires of schools and individual teachers.
Barbara MacGilchrist is dean of initial education at the University of London Institute of Education