Horses for courses
There's help for teachers as well as students in this latest batch of GCSE texts, writes Jill Turner.
Teachers of business at key stage 4 have a choice of four newly published textbooks. Renee Huggett's third edition of Business Studies for GCSE follows the same basic format as before - unit based, manageable bite-sized chunks on each topic. Each unit is lively, attractively presented without being cluttered, and provides sound basic information with key terms, a variety of activities and exercises and updated case studies - plenty of reinforcement and practice.
The teacher's guide is a huge bonus. Following a corresponding unit structure, it provides all the hard-pressed teacher could need to deliver each topic - background information, tips and advice, answers and photocopiable tiered exam questions.
Alain Anderton's GCSE Business Studies also comes with its own teacher's guide, providing suggested answers to all activities and photocopiable tiered exam questions. Again, topics are organised into units, covering content, key terms and a multiplicity of activities and topical case studies. The presentation is a colourful magazine-style format - certainly eye-catching but often lacking continuity and clarity. It's clearly designed for the target audience, but may dazzle and alienate the teacher.
The number of units may vary, but the same basic structure has been adopted in NEAB GCSE Business Studies. Here again is appropriate level content, key terms and activities, including IT, interspersed with "handy hints" and "did you know" boxes. The presentation is colourful, but fragmented by the large number of inserts, and suffers from some inferior illustrations, with far fewer applications to the real world of business. This book is written for NEAB syllabuses, but is, of course, relevant to other boards and to GNVQ. A teacher's photocopiable resource book is also available.
GCSE Business Studies is the official textbook for the National Design Technology Education Foundation syllabus and so covers precisely the syllabus content and at the required depth. The text is far less dense, less rigorous and less interactive, but as you would expect, includes plenty of coursework activities.
Photographs and real-world applications are sparse, instead there is a high density of coloured drawings reminiscent of post-war primers. To complete this image, the characters Sam and Harri appear regularly in each topic. Their "need to know" or "understand" further detracts from the serious and grown-up nature of business studies.
These books do not compete on price so the criteria for choosing between them must include which exam board is used, the availability of a teacher's guide, the presentation or simply the number of units the content is divided into to match timetabled lessons. Whatever the choice, students and teachers will benefit from the same basic information and a full array of individual and classroom activities.
Jill Turner is GNVQ co-ordinator and teacher of business studies at Godalming College, Surrey