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Flexibly attractive design

STARTING NUFFIELD DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY. By David Barlex, Wendy Halls and Steve Rimmel. Longman . Teacher's guide plus 10 copies of each pupil's booklet Pounds 49.99.

These helpful booklets bring the essence of design and technology to pupils with special needs. Although intended to supplement Nuffield design and technology key stage 3 materials, they are a valuable resource in their own right and will also appeal to teachers of younger students.

Suitable for work with individual pupils who need extra help or for small group or whole-class use, each booklet covers one element of product design - deciding what to design and make, developing and communicating design ideas, planning and making, and evaluating.

The authors are practitioners who know the challenges of teaching a wide ability range, while sustaining the rigour of the subject. The materials offer a useful introduction to programmes of study, indicating links to the national curriculum as well as to other Nuffield materials.

The authors are aware that special needs teachers use a range of teaching styles and need to capture their students' interest with relevant examples. There should be opportunities for research, practical activities and creative thinking.

Special needs pupils can offer remarkable insights to technology problems, and the good special needs practitioner will celebrate their ideas. One pupil, for example, recently added iron filings to Plasticene and invented a flexible magnet.

Teachers will find the clearly displayed photocopiable worksheets a sound starting point for designing and making products. Pupils with special needs can readily complete the sections of the worksheets and have the satisfaction of a portfolio of work to complement their finished products. The A5 format works well, with a clear typeface and illustrations that add fun to a subject that can be seen as rather serious.

The essential message is that design and technology must start with the needs of people - the heart of sound product design.

Ronald Lewin is an education technology consultant .

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