Guide to promote key junior science

18th March 2005 at 00:00
Science 5-14 Middle Primary. by Nicky Souter and Frances Simpson. Hodder Gibson. Pupil's book pound;9.99, teacher's book pound;50

Nicky Souter and Frances Simpson have written Science 5-14 Middle Primary to meet the long-standing needs of Scottish pupils and teachers. The pupil's book was first published in June 2004 with the teacher's book the following November. As a result, it is informed by the revised national guidelines of 2000.

Many English texts claim to meet the needs of the Scottish audience but rarely do. Since that revision we have moved on to a curriculum review where flexibility and de-cluttering of the curriculum are themes which are already being rehearsed. Against this backcloth, it is important that non-specialist primary teachers have a well-written textbook to guide their teaching and thinking.

These books keep the big ideas of science to the fore. Teachers will recognise the knowledge they offer, but the associated science skills guide learners towards investigative and experimental work.

Often scientists worry that a textbook concentrates on knowledge and understanding at the expense of testing ideas and investigating. The introduction emphasises that all these elements are essential in studying science.

The wider study of developing informed attitudes includes citizenship, equality and environmental issues, as well as moral considerations arising from scientific progress.

The pupil's book follows the three main areas of Earth and space, energy and forces, and living things and the processes of life. It is attractive with a mix of cartoon characters and quality photographs and covers content mainly for level C with a little overlap of B or D, where that provides progression.

I like the use of symbols which guide pupils towards information to read, the meaning of words, topics to talk about and so on. Health and safety has not been omitted: one of the symbols points to tips on how to study science safely.

Key ideas are kept short and relevant. Activities are introduced in interesting ways and I think pupils will want to keep turning the pages.

Chapters have fun titles such as "Third rock from the Sun" and "Joules giant energy shop".

The 236-page teacher's book provides guidance for non-specialist teachers.

Key ideas are given along with background information associated with the content. Activities, interesting black-and-white photocopiable worksheets and homework are provided along with answers for each question in the pupil's book. If teachers have any time after this, there are reference texts for further reading.

I brought in Renfrewshire Science to our school as the core programme. That was backed up with Ginn New Star science books. To complete our resourcing we bought class sets of Hodder Science 5-14, first the P7 pupil's and teacher's books and more recently the middle primary pupil's and teacher's books. They have been well used already - a good sign.

Sheilah Jackson Sheilah Jackson is headteacher of Queensferry Primary in Edinburgh

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