Brave new world;Secondary;Reviews;Science;Books

10th September 1999 at 01:00
WORLD OF SCIENCE. By Graham Booth, Bob McDuell. and John Sears. Oxford University Press. Evaluation pack pound;60.

It's tricky, timing the publication of new key stage 3 courses with a national curriculum revision underway. But Oxford have plunged in, and World of Science is a complete course, designed for "flexibility of teaching approach". A spiral curriculum allows careful establishment of basic ideas in Year 7, revisited with new concepts in Year 8.

The student's books have three chapters each on biology, physics and chemistry. Single pages carry illustrations, three or four questions and are almost two-thirds continuous text - the reading demand seems quite high. Questions range from simple text-based tasks to extended essay answers and research. The books also include practical worksheets, usually three per chapter, giving clear instructions for basic experiments. Book 3 also has course summaries, revision questions with answers and "after SATs" work, drawing on key stage 4.

"Master lists" in the teacher's guide indicate suitable pages for "lower, middle and higher ability" groups - differentiation is achieved by omitting about a third of the pages from each chapter in the pupil's books. Teachers will need to judge whether remaining material is presented appropriately, especially for lower-ability classes.

The Year 7 teacher's guide is enormous at 400 pages. It has the usual features: teacher's notes, brief comments on differentiation, extra practical sheets, tests at two levels and mark schemes. Homework will be published separately. Useful extras are notes on more than 50 Internet sites, which can be accessed directly from the World of Science web page (http:www.oup.co.uk). Also helpful are tables matching learning objectives with pupil performance indicators and national curriculum levels.

A "scientific enquiry" section has student prompt sheets and worksheets of three investi-gations at different levels of difficulty.

The teacher's guide is not easy to use. Technician and safety notes are buried on the backs of worksheets. Clearer page headings with chapter number and sub-section would also help - it is impossible to locate sub-sections at a glance.

Oxford have taken on resourcing issues, cutting photocopying with experiment sheets in student books and answer sheets for tests, and with homework sheets so texts stay in school, plastic book jackets (at a price) to increase longevity. ICT is mostly in the teacher's guide. However, at pound;60 World of Science remains a major investment, and some might look elsewhere for more support with differentiation, investi-gations and materials for lower ability students.

Lynne Marjoram is head of science at Kidbrooke comprehensive school, south-east London

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