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Right accent, wrong art on safety

SAFETY CD FOR KIDS. CD-Rom for PC and Mac. Free to primary schools covered by Strathclyde Fire Brigade. Strathclyde Fire Board, Bothwell Road, Hamilton ML3 0EA, tel 01698 300999.

Fire safety, drug awareness and safety in the home and community are the focuses of this CD-Rom designed for P4-P7 pupils. Problems lie in its old technology, unimaginative graphics and dull text. Much of the content is level AB, but the sections that provide more technical information are unlikely to stimulate older pupils due to their infantile style of presentation.

The graphics are old-fashioned clip art that resemble illustrations from old Enid Blyton books. Illustrating teachers as women who wear mortar boards and carry a cane is particularly poor.

There is a serious break in continuity when what appears to be an American policeman features on the screen where elsewhere policemen are truly Scottish with familiar chequered caps.

The CD-Rom does little to help pupils understand tht people who take or deal in drugs are "ordinary" people. Its depiction of the person who passes drugs on to someone for safekeeping as a "bully" confuses the drug awareness issue and perpetuates a stereotype of drug dealers.

The quizzes are worthwhile, although not challenging. After the pupil has selected the wrong answer, the answers are re-jumbled to encourage him or her to concentrate further on the question. The choice of three answers often includes easily identifiable wrong answers.

One good feature of the quizzes is the sound option that talks pupils through the tasks in a Scottish accent. The game of Squirt has an additional element of "shoot 'em up" fun for pupils.

This CD-Rom lacks animation and the sophistication that children expect these days. It is likely to find a use in P2-P4 classrooms, but even there its contribution to health and safety skills already taught will be limited.

Paula Cowan teaches at Hurlford Primary, East Ayrshire

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