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SUPPORTING LITERACY AND NUMERACY: a guide for learning support assistants. By Glenys Fox and Marian Halliwell. David Fulton pound;13.

This book couldn't have come at a better time. Between 1999 and 2002, the DfEE expects schools to recruit around 20,000 classroom assistants, mainly to support children who have difficulties with basic skills. The implications of a mass influx of unqualified staff into primary schools are enormous.

So if I were a headteacher, I'd be putting in a bulk order for copies of this book and issuing one to every classroom assistant on my staff. It is an excellent, clearly written manual, with an enormous amount of wisdom distilled into its 104 pages. The advice on helping children learn to read, write, spell and do basic maths is sound, practical and up-to-date, and the book includes sections on helping in the literacy hour and daily maths lesson.

There is also an excellent chapter on how childrenlearn and another on the classroom assistant's role in school. The latter is discussed under three headings: supporting the pupil, supporting the teacher and supporting the school. And if anyone notices a similarity to the Best Practice Guide for Teaching Assistants on the DfEE website, it might be because Glenys Fox was involved in writing that as well.

The authors have a wealth of expertise and experience. Marian Halliwell is head of the literacy and numeracy support service in Poole, Dorset, and Glenys Fox is the borough's principal educational psychologist. They are also excellent communicators, converting often complex ideas into clear, readable language.

The blurb suggests Supporting Literacy and Numeracy would be useful for parents. I'd also recommend it to teachers who want a handy reference book of all the important stuff you need to remember when you're working with primary children.

Sue Palmer

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