GCSE Design and Technology Textiles. By Alison Bartle and Bernie O'Connor, Causeway Press. Student's Book Pounds 8.99 Teacher's Guide Pounds 24.95
Patricia Tarrant Brown finds two textile books that fit the curriculum.
Textiles teachers have, until recently, had to struggle with embarrassingly out-of-date textbooks - or none at all if their departments went cross-curricular. Now, with the move back to specialisation and the exam boards setting the agenda for change, there are a number of relevant and focused publications competing for our attention.
Two of them appear to have been tailor-made for the demands of the new textile syllabuses and are especially useful for the teaching of industrial application. At last, the luxury of choice!
Examining Textiles Technology and GCSE Design and Technology Textiles combine technical textile information with design and lifestyle considerations, and both feature case studies from the world of design and manufacture.
On the face of it there is little to choose between them, so last term both publications went for a test drive with students who had either just finished their GCSE textiles course or were half-way through it.
In Examining Textiles Technology, Anne Barnett has provided comprehensive coverage of all the elements of the new GCSE syllabuses and included plenty of industrial practice. Students liked the case studies which include mail order companies, one-off textile designers and that wonderful role model for British creativity, designer John Galliano.
They found the format easy to read and straightforward. The glossary includes "range meeting", "rapid response" and "recycling" as three of the Rs reminding us of just how far we have come since the potentially divisive days of home economics and fine art textiles.
In GCSE Design and Technology Textiles, Alison Bartle and Bernie O'Connor have conspired to dazzle us in their joint venture. At first glance, the dynamic graphics seemed overwhelming , but the students loved them. Brought up on a diet of commercialism and multimedia PCs, they responded very positively to the multi-coloured, multi-task pages.Colour features as a stimulus throughout the text. Pink and orange diagrams of woven fabric demand your attention, while the section on fabric painting brings out the subtlety of the process.
Double-spread pages lead the student from the factual to the actual, along with a range of suggested activities which contextualise their learning.
Teachers will appreciate the breadth and the depth of the text and the probing questions which support and test student learning. There are plenty of photographs showing industrial applications, with relevant text set in modern contexts.
Everywhere diagrams simplify and explain processes. Students were confident in using the text independently to help them with their coursework projects.
A particular feature of the teacher's pack is the section dealing with examination questions. These show differentiation between higher and lower tier responses, making them extremely valuable as revision material and as an aid to defining students' levels.
All in all, it seems well worth the Pounds 24.95 cost, and with the publisher's offer of 30 days' approval you can take it for your own test drive and see for yourself.
Patricia Tarrant Brown is a teacher of textiles at Brownhills School, Walsall. She is also an examiner and inset provider for the NEAB and works freelance on a consultancy basis supporting teachers of design and technology textiles.