Cream of the crop go higher still

2nd March 2001 at 00:00
The Saltire Society and TES Scotland awards show that publishers are responding to the needs of new courses, writes Willis Pickard


Hodder amp; Stoughton Social Issues in the UK; International Issues by Allan Grieve and John McTaggart


Hodder amp; Stoughton New Higher Chemistry by Eric Allan and John Harris

Struan Publishing Lest We Forget by Helen McLullich and Sheena Bedborough

The spread of Higher Still courses has given fresh impetus to publishers, and this finds its way into the ninth round of annual awards made jointly by the Saltire Society and The TES Scotland. The winning publisher is Hodder amp; Stoughton for two modern studies titles aimed at Intermediate 1 and 2 pupils. Allan Grieve, of Auchmuty High, Glenrothes, and John McTaggart, of Boroughmuir High, Edinburgh, are the authors of the duo - Social Issues in the UK and International Issues.

The judges commended the lively way that far-reaching, controversial and difficult issues were tackled. Teachers will note the relevance to the current debates on how to introduce citizenship.

Part of the chapter on gender and race in Social Issues deals with sport, and pupils in follow-up would surely respond to the "extended writing" challenge to "Discuss the view that racism is still a problem in Scottish sport." Firmly grounded in Scottish experience, the gender section has photographs of women candidates from each of the parties who became MSPs, with the distinction between those representing a constituency and those from the list neatly observed.

The Hodder amp; Stoughton books presumably could not afford full colour for a limited print run. But whereas that could have detracted from the impact of the chapter in International Issues on human rights in Brazil, the apparently esoteric topic grabs young readers' attention by highlighting the problem of street children.

The judges commended two very different books. New Higher Chemistry, also from Hodder amp; Stoughton, was the most attractive of a number of titles on mathematics and the sciences, which offer a particular challenge to publishers in presenting abstrct or difficult concepts in a way that encourages pupils to use a textbook to complement class teaching. Eric Allan and John Harris, both of George Heriot's School, Edinburgh, have completely overhauled the previous Higher chemistry text to make it suitable for the new Higher syllabus and Intermediate 2.

The other commended book is Lest We Forget, an account of Scotland in the Second World War aimed at 10 to 14-year-olds. It is published by Struan Publishing, a small firm based in Uddingston. Helen McLullich, co-author with Sheena Bedborough, wrote that the origin lay in a class project "in which every class member could participate regardless of educational or social standing (as in the war years!)". The emphasis is very much on the "home front" and disruption to ordinary life. Many pupils will be keen to observe the "lest we forget" message by following the endpage instructions to make a model of cruisers being attacked on the River Forth, complete with cantilever rail bridge.

Among the publishers responding to the needs of new courses, was the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum, now Learning and Teaching Scotland. A wide range of authoritative and helpful titles has been produced, but their impact is surely lessened by appearing in identical covers. Pupils, faced with yet another in the cross-curricular series, are bound to mistakenly say, "We've already done that book."

In the judges' view the liveliest was the multi-level Working with Scottish Poetry, which came with a CD-Rom, The Jewel Box, of contemporary Scottish poems.

The pound;500 award to the winning publisher will be presented on March 5 at the Educational Resources Scotland exhibition in the Glasgow Moat House Hotel. The judges were: Sheila Campbell, headteacher, Kilbowie Primary, Clydebank; Jim McGonigle, principal teacher of history, Hermitage Academy, Helensburgh; Alastair McMillan, principal teacher of chemistry, Castlehead High, Paisley; Gerald Mortimer, senior lecturer in the educational faculty of Strathclyde University and convener of the Saltire Society's education committee; and Willis Pickard, editor of The TES Scotland.

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