12th January 2001 at 00:00
A SENSE OF HISTORY. By Sallie Purkis. Key stage 1: Co-ordinator's Handbook pound;12. Teacher's Book pound;25. Key stage 2: Co-ordinator's Handbook pound;15. Teacher's Books (Ancient Egypt; Ancient Greece; Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings; Tudor Times; Victorian Britain; Britain Since 1930). Longman pound;25 each.

Sallie Purkis is known as an accomplished guide through the shifting by-ways of primary history. Her new set of time-saving books for teachers will maintain the respect in which her work is held.

The changes produced by Curriculum 2000 are taken into account and many of the vaguer areas of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority schemes of work are complemented with fuller advice.

There are two books for key stage 1 teachers. And for co-ordinators there is advice on the design of topics which engage children's pleasure as well as their skills of enquiry and understanding of historical processes.

The suggestions for contributing to colleagues' own in-service training are especially welcome, with stimulating discussion sheets and a recognition of ways in which history can be kept out of the isolaion ward of "timetabling by subject". For class teachers, there are many ideas for using the 12-topic books that form part of the popular Longman series.

At key stage 2 both the demands and the support materials grow. The co-ordinator's handbook now examines more complex notions of chronology and sense of period. It engages with the controversial question of how the areas of "explanation" and "interpretation" may sometimes overlap and sometimes remain distinct. In the process of this discussion, Sallie Purkis makes a wide sweep through possible resources; facsimile Roman coins and extracts from Frankie Howerd's Up Pompeii! feature in one section.

The separate books on statutory areas of study might be seen as almost too tempting, packed as they are with worksheets. A finger pressed on a photocopier will give your class hours of work contrasting the real and mythological animals in the pantheon of ancient Egypt, or teasing out some of the meanings of Harold Macmillan's "You've never had it so good" speech. Advice on planning and organising is needed - and it's here too.

Tom Deveson

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