These are the first books in a new series for 11 to 14-year-olds. The authors have used the draft Order for the revised national curriculum, and for topics which are not specifically mentioned in the Order, they have clearly shown where they have been inserted.
The F book covers levels 2 to 4, G covers levels 3 to 5 and E covers levels 4 to 6, although some material in each book is from adjacent levels. The structure of the books allows reasonably easy transfer from one course to another. The teacher's handbook is one of the best I have seen. There is an interesting discussion of teaching methodologies, and the general approach follows the current debate with around two-thirds of the lesson material being teacher led.
The handbook also contains good advice on creating the right classroom environment and on questioning techniques. A detailed lesson plan is provided for each topic, including suggestions for class questions, and an alternative approach for teachers who wish to use a teacher-led lesson instead of a pupil-led one.
It would have been more helpful had the answers to activities been provided alongside the lesson plas rather than in a separate section. Notes on possible problems encountered by students are useful, although being told that pupils' ability to spell may be poor is hardly news.
Master copies of sheets for overhead-projector use are included, along with end-of-unit reviews, tests and investigations. A separate homework file contains a photocopiable collection of questions.
Each section within a chapter of the pupils' book is designed as far as possible to be a single lesson. Symbols alert pupils to the need for resources, or to work with others, and key words are highlighted in boxes.
In each topic, a section provides further practice for pupils who are having difficulties, and those who finish early are directed to a section where they can tackle more involved or open-ended questions.
A bar along the bottom of each page lists the numeracy skills pupils need for the work on that page.
This course is a thoroughly prepared and welcome addition to those available to secondary schools. Its approach will not be to everyone's taste, but with maths increasingly taught by non-specialists, the clear guidance and lesson plans will prove very attractive to many.
Ian Wilson is head of Rydens school, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey