In 1994, after another revision of the national curriculum, we were promised a a five-year moratorium on change. Less than a year later, teachers began to use the new science Order in key stage 3, and then in January of this year copies of the new GCSE syllabuses appeared in schools. More work followed so that teaching of year 10 could begin this September for examinations in 1998. For the politicians there may be a period of calm but for classroom teachers, the trudge of change goes on.
As all new GCSE syllabuses have to comply with School Curriculum and Assessment Authority criteria, they are overwhelmingly similar. Differences do exist, linked either to presentation or boards' moderation procedures, with the exceptions being syllabuses that have evolved from curriculum projects. The choice of GCSE board and syllabus is likely to depend on teachers' experiences of administrative procedures and the in-service training, as much as on the syllabus content.
The greatest change in the Science order is in Sc 1 "Experimental and Investigative Science". This seems more manageable than before and appears to make sense at last!
A torrent of new and revised textbooks has been unleashed, many of which make the same claims. Publishers are providing not only a text for the pupils but also a battery of supplementary materials which save teachers' and technicians' valuable research and preparation time. A word of caution. All these resources have been produced at some speed. As the final versions of the syllabuses only appeared in January, all the advice contained in the publications cannot be based on experience of using the revised order, so teachers must be circumspect. The speed of production does mean that not every component in a two-year package is ready for either inspection or purchase - a real issue if you are introducing a course now and want to ensure that every section meets your needs.
FOCUS ON SCIENCE: Life and Living By Jane Vellacott Materials By Philip Stone Physical Processes By Charles Tracy Pounds 7.99 each.
Teacher's Resources Pounds 7 Hodder Stoughton COLLINS GCSE SCIENCES: Physics By S Parsons and I Pritchard Collins Pounds 10.50 GCSE SCIENCE DOUBLE AWARD: Edited by Ken Foulds Biology. Chemistry. Physics Pounds 10.99 each Teacher's Resource File Pounds 35 John Murray LONGMAN CO-ORDINATED SCIENCE: Edited by Terry Parkin Chemistry. Biology. Physics Student's Book Pounds 9.99 Copymasters Pounds 35 each Teacher's and Technician's Guide Pounds 14.99 LongmanAddison Wesley
Jackie Hardie looks at the impact of curriculum changes on publishers and reviews a selection of new and revised GCSE packages.
New GCSE resources. There are four new schemes from the publishers John Murray, LongmanAddison Wesley, Hodder and Stoughton, and Collins. The GCSE Science Double Award series from John Murray links with the NEAB syllabus. Each pupil book is divided into colour coded sections and these into double page spreads. On each spread, information is clearly presented and each section ends with a page or two of examination questions. The "Teachers' Resource File" matches the resource with the Science order; sections, sub-divided into the three science specialisms, detail "experimental tasks", "investigations", "summary target sheets", "data interpretation tests" and "data sheets", all of which are photocopiable too.
It is a wise move to have the last three in this format, so teachers may decide which are best for them. However, as the "summary target sheets" list the key ideas from each textbook spread, it is arguable that they would have been better placed in the book, especially as they indicate which sections cover topics required of the higher level. Not only would this save photocopying costs, it would target setting and make revision much easier.
Longman Co-ordinated Science is not linked to a particular syllabus. The pupil books are in full colour but there is a move away from the double-page spread format. Chapters start with a "review" section which allows a check of work from key stage 3 before embarking on a more detailed study. The text is divided by subheadings and questions are interspersed. At the end of each section there are revision questions. Each book has an index but, unlike those from John Murray, no glossary. The Teachers' and Technicians' Guide describes the resource, has a useful section on safety and specific guidance on the use of IT.
The teacher guidance is offered by specialism and after general information, continues in the same order as the text book chapters to provide ideas on continuity, contexts and differentiation as well as giving technicians information for the activities on the linked copymasters. These are black and white; some feature illustrative practicals, with more open ended ideas contained in a Taking it Further section; others are data exercises and there are test ideas too.
There are also revision summaries which, like the target summaries of the John Murray scheme, might be better placed in the textbook.
Unlike the John Murray and Longman schemes, Focus on Science from Hodder and Stoughton is targeted at Foundation level pupils (ie grades C - G) only, but can be used with any single or double award scheme. There are six pupil books, one in each specialism for each of the Years 10 and 11 and each has its own teacher's resource, but only those for Year 10 are yet available. In the pupils' books, it's the double-page spread and colour- coded format again but here, at the end of each section, there are suggestions for activities, a double spread in a magazine style showing the application of the science and something of its implications, and then a summary and questions. The whole book should appeal to the most disaffected reader. "Flick-ability" is good!
The Teacher's Resource contains photocopiable materials related to the activities and students books to support weaker students.
Collins' GCSE Sciences can be used to teach Double Award Science, but the books are designed to meet the requirements of the separate science syllabuses. Currently, only Physics is available. Here the format is much more like that of a traditional textbook but it is in full colour, lists learning objectives, has questions scattered throughout the text and has end-of-chapter summaries.
Even though the authors claim the book is "suitable for use by students of a wide range of abilities" it will appeal most to brighter pupils. There is no teacher or technicians' guide, in fact no supplementary resources at all. This raises the question, if they are seen as essential for co-ordinated sciences, why don't the separate ones need the time-saving support too?
NEW CO-ORDINATED SCIENCE : Biology.
By Beckett and Gallagher Chemistry By Gallagher, Ingram and Whitehead Physics By Poplew and Whitehead Student's Book Pounds 310. Teacher's Guide Pounds 20 Oxford University Press CO-ORDINATED SCIENCE SERIES Edited by Ken Dobsonand Chris Sunley Student Book 1 Pounds 10.50. Teacher's Pack 1 Pounds 44.95. Collins
Revised GCSE resources.
Oxford's New Co-ordinated Science is an updated version of its Co-ordinated Science and can be used with any syllabus. There are three pupil books, Biology, Physics and Chemistry, not four as in the original; the content of the former The Earth book has been "redistributed". Each has its own Teacher's Guide. Unlike all the other books, the Oxford series is spiral bound.
Another change is that the "Activities" (which were in three separate books in the first edition) are now incorporated as photocopiable pages within the Teacher's Guides. Pupils books are in full colour, double-page, colour-coded spreads with end-of-section questions. The Teacher's Guide contains clear and detailed risk assessments with essential guidance for teachers and then three sections; the first, A, reveals how the sections in one specialist book relate to the other two; B has practical activities and Part C provides ideas on holistic investigations. Advice for technicians is limited and there is a risk that density of text on some of the activity pages could overwhelm less able pupils.
Collins MEG Co-ordinated Science is a revision of the Suffolk scheme and the philosophy underpinning that successful curriculum development is still discernible. These books are very different from the others. There are two pupil books, one for Year 10 and one for Year 11 and each has its associated guide. There is a move away from double-page spreads; there are questions within the text and exam questions at the end. In addition there is a check list of what pupils should know at specific levels. The pupils' book has an impressive index and glossary as well as pages devoted to laboratory skills, data, revision and extension. Users of the Suffolk scheme will not be disappointed with the revisions. There is also a teachers' guide.
What will it cost?
If you have to replace books, what do the books for a two-year course cost? Assume that you have one class of 30 in Year 10 and one in Year 11 and the pupils have and keep their course texts from Oxford, John Murray or Longman for two years. You would need two full sets at a cost of up to Pounds 1,800. If you use Collins or Hodder and Stoughton, with different books for year 10 and year 11, then the costs could be Pounds 1,350. The Collins separate science course comes in at Pounds 2,800. Assume a six-form entry, then for every pupil to have a text book for two years, you are considering an investment that could be Pounds 12,000. No wonder sharing or having books for use only in lessons is frequently the norm.
These costs are before you have bought the Teacher's Guides, paid for the photocopying, purchased consumables and equipment or perhaps repaired it. No wonder changes in the national curriculum and the need for new books places demands on any school's finances. So the government should not be surprised when schools appeal for more cash. The need is real, educationally desirable and must not be ignored. It is the one "easy-to-calculate" cost of the national curriculum changes and it is massive.
Jackie Hardie is deputy head of The Latymer School, Enfield