Alliance takes the third way

6th November 1998 at 00:00

Key Stage 3 Assessment Resources.

FOOD AND TEXTILES. By Tristram Shepard, Roy Jarratt, Hazel King and Jane Tulloch. PRODUCT DESIGN. By Tristram Shepard, Melanie Fasciato and Diana Mitchell. ON TARGET - PUPIL'S BOOK. Stanley Thornes File plus pupil's book Pounds 48.50. Pupil's book Pounds 4.99.

These resources are aimed at the end of Year 9 stage 3, and are entirely assessment-driven.

The old alliance between the NEAB and Stanley Thornes is evident in the division of subject content to mirror the GCSE syllabus, and the common set of level descriptors. There is even a matrix to help teachers take account of designmake weightings in end of key stage statements. Differentiated lesson plans, based on a limited number of design briefs, are backed up by prompts to produce evidence for assessment.

The pupil's book is not a textbook but a series of exemplar projects describing levels of attainment in designing and making. Aimed at "teacher,pupil and parent", it is intended as an aid to raising standards through self-conscious appraisal by the student. This is encouraged by the use of speech balloons in a "hand-written" font suggesting reflective thinking.

Unfortunately the language is not that of the average 14-year-old, and the attempt to put into words what for the most part is carried out intuitively is perhaps taking the quest for evidence a step too far.

The problem with putting the emphasis on assessment is that other less tangible - and therefore less easily assessable - qualities which the novice designer may possess could be overlooked. For example, the section on planning does not take account of pupils' limited experience of materials.

Evidence of advance planning may be desirable at the end of a specialised GCSE course, but this linear model is inappropriate lower down the school. On the other hand, this pack could be useful for a school with an impending Ofsted inspection. Coming at a time when the national curriculum is again under review, other buyers may wish to see whatthe year 2000 brings before spending their money.

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