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Saltire award is music to our judges' ears

This year's TES ScotlandSaltire prize for educational publishing has been awarded to an unusual contender, a revision package for music. But UK publishers came in for criticism from the judges.

Aesthetic areas of the curriculum are not often written about by teachers, who tend to produce textbooks for the more academic subjects. So it was a unanimous decision by the judging panel of teachers and academics to give the award yesterday to How to Pass Standard Grade Music, published by Hodder Gibson.

The revision text, written by Joe McGowan and accompanied by a CD of music excerpts, was described as a valuable resource that could be used independently of teachers. It provided a lot of material and a lively interactive experience. Without it, teachers would probably have had to work hard to get permissions to use the excerpts on the CD.

"Music is a subject that is not flush with books, but here is one that is taking it all the way to being used independently and has audio material to bring it to life," the judges said. The whole How to Pass.... series by Hodder Gibson came in for praise, as the judging panel commended the publisher for its commitment. "In these uncertain curriculum times, it's good to see continuing support for Standard grade," they said.

The series, covering Higher, Intermediate and Standard grade exams, would be useful not only to pupils studying alone at home, but also to young teachers and student teachers, or those who had not taught the subject for a few years, Tom Bryce, professor of education at Strathclyde University, and chair of the judging panel, said.

How to Pass Higher Business Management, for example, could be used by student teachers, who are frequently mature students, to help them tune in to more than just the requirements of the syllabus, Professor Bryce added.

Another Hodder Gibson text, Close Reading 11-14: Support Edition, was commended by the panel for responding to teachers' requests for more help in this area. The new book is an adaptation of the original Close Reading 11-14 book that was a runner-up in last year's TESSSaltire awards. It has been adapted for pupils who might find it too challenging.

UK publishers, however, were criticised by the judges for failing to produce materials for the Scottish curriculum. While some of last year's UK entries, from publishers such as Nelson, were praised for targeting the Scottish market, this year's entries showed little evidence of it.

The Big Cat series, submitted by Collins, provided very good non-fiction texts for primary schools that teachers would happily pick up and use, but the books made no mention of the 5-14 curriculum in Scotland - "no nod to the Scottish system," as the panel put it.

It said the series provided a rich range of resources for non-fiction reading in primary. "The books contained stunning photography, helpful guided reading for teachers at the back, and quite a few things aimed specifically at boys," the judges said.

"The books even had some Scottish authors," they added pointedly. "So why did the publisher not go that extra mile to align it with the Scottish curriculum?"

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