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PSHE

Cross-phase. SOCIAL LEARNING SOFTWARE. Billy Breaks the Rules. Billy and the Big D-cision. Busted. Primary. BRUCE'S MULTIMEDIA STORY. Information PLUS, telephone: 01856 761334. CD (PC and Mac) pound;39.95 each, plus pound;2 pamp;p

It is good to see materials intended for use by children in public care but also recommended for teachers, counsellors, and social workers. These interactive CDs are well produced, though navigation is sometimes irritatingly awkward.

Billy is in care and thus has an understandably immature outlook. It is a pity the CD doesn't offer him more choices, giving insight into alternative ways of thinking or acting. Fifteen possible scenes in Billy Breaks the Rules allow several routes through a story about stolen money. However, each route only shows four scenes, which offers little scope for development.

The Big D-cision is about drugs, and the slightly longer story is based on the erroneous assumption that "the offer" and peer pressure to use are significant issues on which to base learning - research shows otherwise.

Busted is an interactive "board game" consisting of multi-choice questions about situations involving work, health, school, family and friends. Players gain or lose points with their answers. Despite a choice of "mentors" purporting to provide feedback on the chosen action, in reality this has no constructive content whatsoever. Some information is inaccurate, and points are awarded for some very dubious decisions.

A truanting pupil is rewarded by "getting employment by lying about his age", and, to my horror, a player is praised for walking out of the house rather than talking to a responsible person every time "his dad was going to hit his little brother".

The authors state clearly that an adult "moderator" is vital when these CDs are being used. However, if the role of the moderator is to ensure there is a source of sound advice and a balanced perspective, it is hard to see what this CD adds.

In the fourth CD, Bruce is a puppy forced to leave his parents and await a "foster" home. The beautifully illustrated story offers opportunities for an adult supervisor to explore the experience and feelings of the young child in public care. However, sensitivity is needed to ensure the dog metaphor doesn't reinforce feelings of low status.

Adrian King

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