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Staff Development

SCIENCE FOR CURRICULUM LEADERS. By Elizabeth Clayden and Alan Peacock. 0 415 10390 8. Pounds 25. Routledge, 11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE.

This 125-page ring-binder is the second of three titles covering different core subjects of the national curriculum, and is intended to help primary schools plan their own in-service programmes even though they lack "sufficient knowledgeable specialists or the funds available to buy in expertise from outside".

The series editor, David Wray, in a useful and confidence-building introduction, emphasises that it is "first and foremost a resource for in-service work rather than a prescribed course", even though at times the writers of the actual pack do sound a little prescriptive ("You should distribute this" and "You should allow up to three hours for this").

The 10 units, ranging from Developing Children's Investigation Skills to Creating a Dialogue with Parents, include useful information and helpful suggestions with particularly good photocopiable pages giving examples of children's work for teachers to discuss and assess together, as well as some interesting letters and memos to answer from parents and the head!

There are ingenious suggestions, including one in the Organising Workshop Activities unit that participating teachers should be given cups of "freshly made tea and a range of insulating materials", then experiment with different ways of keeping their tea hot!

Each unit contains five sections: leader's guidelines (these would be much easier to use if the references to subsequent sections were to include the relevant page numbers), a briefing paper (always informative and well worth distributing prior to in-service sessions), stimulus activities (some of which demand quite some preparation), classroom activities, and a review session. All this material is photocopiable too, but the curriculum leader would often be well advised to keep more than just the leader's guidelines to himherself, or the result could be decidedly overwhelming.

For private guidance, however, it would be a boon to all those curriculum leaders of science who have "a very sketchy background in this subject area". Altogether, this is quite a helpful publication with particularly useful units on assessment and progression.

There is even a unit on Making Science Multicultural, together with the story of a teacher who brought in some dried cowdung to burn, eliciting a happy smile from an Indian girl who told her, "It smells just like home, miss!"

I'm still thinking about this. Is it really such a very happy example?

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