Making sure the jigsaw fits


Coordinating roles is tricky but help is at hand, writes Rosalind Walford

Schemes of work, staff development, evaluation, policy documents, audits, the organisation of resources ... just where do I start?" This is the perennial cry of the newly-appointed primary subject coordinator. But help is at hand. Your Role as a Primary School Subject Coordinator tackles this tricky area head-on. Its author, Mary Briggs, is a lecturer in education, and, critically, an OFSTED inspector.

She offers an analysis of the generic issues surrounding the role of subject coordinator, pointing out that primary school teachers may well need the flexibility to be responsible for a wide range of subjects during their teaching careers.

Most relevant to the curriculum in England and Wales, the publication nevertheless deals with universal issues. Given that all teachers are now required to co-ordinate a curriculum area - possibly an area in which they lack confidence, skills and knowledge - the author provides some good starting points. She gives plenty of information and documentation from authorities such as OFSTED, SCAA, NCC and HMSO. There is also historical and currentreference material and research, and details of policies and procedures used in primary schools today. The inclusion of case-studies adds a very real edge of authenticity and practicality to the writing.

In the opening pagesMary Briggs sets out to define the role of the subject coordinator; a useful exercise for newly-appointed and also experienced coordinators. She uses various models to illustrate the depth and extent of this role, providing a comprehensive framework on which to baseaims and objectives.

Of particular value is the explanation of Newton's model, which lists responsibilities under two categories: support and development.

Support covers maintenance of a curriculum area and duties such as reordering stock and liaising with outside agencies. Development tasks include attending courses, disseminating and updating information, and so on. Other chapters focus on subjects such as self-audit, the audit of colleagues, curriculum planning, INSET, schemes of work, continuity and differentiation - all areas which need careful consideration.

The chapters on evaluation and policy documents will be particularly useful, and the discussion of the integrated versus subject-based debate is very informative.

This thorough book devotes a lot of thought to each area. However, in many schools non-contact time is at a premium, and coordinators may not be able to carry out the lengthy procedures suggested.

Rosalind Walford was formerly mathematics coordinator at Belmont primary school, west London, and is now an education consultant

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