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Let the experts ease the strain;Book review

LEARNING TO TEACH - A Handbook for Primary and Secondary School Teachers. Edited by Gill Nicholls. Kogan Page. pound;17.99

This book should be an ideal companion for those embarking on an initial teacher training course. As somebody just installed in a first teaching post, I also found the book extremely helpful.

Learning to Teach successfully combines theory, sound advice and practical tasks. Its 13 chapters are written by various authors, including Gill Nicholls, Margaret Cox, Mike Waring, James Williams, Steve Alsop, Kit Field and Tricia David, based around the Department for Education and Employment's circular 498.

To achieve Qualified Teacher Status, trainees must successfully demonstrate their abilities in four areas: knowledge and understanding; planning, teaching and class management; monitoring, assessment, reporting and accountability; and other professional requirements.

James Williams discusses these areas in relation to initial training and provides practical tasks which challenge the reader to evaluate the characteristics of a good teacher. Steve Alsop's chapter aims to familiarise NQTs with the national curriculum. He also provides a list of useful websites for any student embarking on an initial training course.

Margaret Cox is interesting on children's learning, providing an excellent potted version of the key educational theorists. She also contributes an enlightening chapter on information and communications technology.

Mike Waring provides a rationale for the planning process and looks at teaching and classroom management.

Gill Nicholls writes clearly about assessment, recording and reporting, and provides a useful glossary of assessment terms. The book also covers special needs in mainstream education with useful case studies. The chapter on working with parents is interesting, although more practical advice would be helpful. The final chapters, on professional requirements, continuing professional development and induction, give practical guidance on getting that first post.

Packed with clear explanations and sound advice, Learning to Teach is an essential buy for student teachers and a worthwhile read for NQTs.

Rachel Houlston is an NQT at Strand-on-the-Green Infant School, Hounslow

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