An integral part of this ambitious new course for key stage 3 (P7-S2) is the net and ICT zones of Nelson Thornes secondary English website (www.creativelanguage.co.uk). It aims to provide a flexible approach to meet the curriculum demands of the revised national curriculum and the National Literacy Strategy for KS3.
The four components overlap and interconnect with cross-referencing on a thematic and linguistic basis and finding your way around is quite difficult. The pupil anthologies, net 1, 2 and 3, contain extracts with appeal to both boys and girls and are attractively presented in large format with the conventions of signposting the text that are used in ICT (for example, certain are words picked out in colour or bold, drop-down menus).
The extracts are intended to make enjoyable reading and hel pupils make thematic and linguistic links between them, and to provide help with organising information and ideas using of concept maps, which the series calls "netWorks".
Much of the material is predictable with nothing very new apart from the work on concept mapping. Support for the net anthologies is provided by two sets of teacher resource books, networking 1, 2 and 3 and net literacy 1,2 and 3. These contain teacher's notes, differentiated photocopiable worksheets and further activities. It is not clear why these activities are separated in this way with the literacy skills matched to the National Literacy Strategy Framework provided as bolt-on tasks rather than integral to the work on the extracts.
All this is also available on CD-Roms to download and as Word documents for teachers to adapt. This is where the series has real potential to be flexible and innovative . Support from materials on the websites (if regularly updated) will provide a developing resource. However, since access to the websites is free and teachers might spend a lot of time adapting the original material, it might be easier and cheaper to produce their own resources.
Angel Scott is vice master of Hatfield College, Durham