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Off the record;Primary;Reviews;Mathematics;Books

MASTERMATHS. Maths Mental Tests for Key Stage 2. Edited by Paul Briten. Oxford University Press. pound;25

Ready prepared assessment material is an appealing idea. This mental mathematics package consists of four cassettes and a teacher's guide, providing termly tests for each year of key stage 2.

The teacher's book provides photocopiable test sheets with prompt boxes to help retain key working data and a simple record pro forma for results.

The balance of mathematical ingredients, and the allowance of time and the voicing, are nicely measured.

Pre-recorded media often produce a good response in terms of concentration andlistening skills. Sound or video recordings allow teachers to concentrate on teaching and learning points.

This application, however, presents some problems. Ithas a limited shelf-life; curriculum balance can and probably will change, with the imminence of the National Numeracy Project. It offers limited value for money, given one use per cohort per recording.

Finally, this pre-recorded assessment material does nothing which a teacher could not present or record themselves. More seriously,the discussion which occurs during effective mental mathematics work is lost in the interests of simply practising tests.

Teachers' purchasing decisions will be made on the basis of savings in preparation time, and little else, but the home market offers more potential.

Jon O'ConNor

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