A right old read;Secondary;Curriculum reviews

17th December 1999 at 00:00
FOLENS MODERN CLASSICS. ANIMAL FARM. Of Mice and MenBy Mike Gould. AN INSPECTOR CALLS. LORD OF THE FLIES. By Louise and Roger Machin. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. ROLL OF THUNDER, Hear my Cry. By Mary Green. Folens pound;17.95 each

Folens has long concentrated on providing inexpensive resources with hallmarks of competence rather than innovation, and in this it has been successful. This series carries on the tradition, and the six texts selected must be near the top of any poll of books most often studied at key stage 4.

The emphasis is on presenting clear information, guiding understanding and fostering sound examination and assessment approaches. In this, these resources succeed. But apart from their attractive covers, the books are hardly feasts for the eye. There is nothing of the sophisticated production you would expect from larger publishers.

Of course, it all depends what you want. There is effective teacher and pupil guidance with many photocopiable activity pages. The black and white line drawings help in visualising and interpreting characters. Certainly, no department will ever feel it has wasted its money buying this series.

Each book has two pages of teacher's notes which explain the rationale. There are photocopiable activities on background, character, language, plot. They involve individual, pair and group work. There are practice essays and passages for examination practice - the needs of the curriculum are identified and catered for efficiently.

But I missed something: the joy that good literature can bring. Ideally, the sort of understanding these approaches aim for shouldn't just help pupils perform well, but should turn them into avid and adept readers as well.

However, if there's a doubt at the back of my mind, it's a comment on the curriculum as it stands, not a criticism of this series, which does well what it sets out to do.

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