IMPACT MATHS 1 Red and 1 Green. Heinemann pound;9.99 each.
These are the first two books in a new key stage 3 course. The Red book covers the same topic sequence as the Green, but at a greater speed and in more depth.
A CD-Rom, which contains a bank of homework questions, is also available as are performance packs containing diagnostic tests, assessments and remediation sheets. The books use colour well, with hint boxes in the margins, and key steps in solutions shown in different colours. Mental methods, often omitted from course books but now given greater emphasis in the national curriculum, are explained very well. The chapters on algebra are good - nice to see Cuisenaire rods making a comeback - although solving equations could do with more explanation in the Red book. I found it disappointing that in both books no clear distinction is made between negative numbers and the minus sign - a source of potential confusion. At the end of both books, a chapter contains examples of the ways in which calculators and computers can be used. This material should have been integrated into the relevant chapters instead of suggesting that such methods are bolt-ons, but otherwise the approach and coverage are good.
INSIDE MATHS. Longman pound;7.99
Not a conventional textbook, this is a companion for students to help with homework and revision in key stage 3.
However, since the coverage of each topic is brief but thorough, this book will not be suitable for students working below average national curriculum levels. Each topic is covered in a double-page spread with summaries, help boxes and interesting facts as well as exercises. Answers are provided to most questions and there is a helpful index.
LIVEWIRE MATHS (to Level 3). By Paul Harrison. Hodder amp; Stoughton. pound;2.99 each. Teacher's Book pound;12.99.
Livewire Maths is aimed at under-achieving key stage 3 students, but could also help low ability ks4 students. The four books cover addition and subtraction, multiplication and division, multiplication tables and measures.
Their appearance is rather severe, with black and white drawings only, but the pace is well judged for students working at the lower levels of the national curriculum. The teacher's guides contain photocopiable masters of sheets for assessment and further practice, as well as extensive notes on teaching the topics. The use of sensible mental methods is encouraged and explained well in the student books. Students are set challenges at the end of most units.
Ian Wilson is head of Woodcote High School, Croydon