It's all down to Dearing
NEW MODULAR SCIENCE FOR GCSE Assessment and Resource Pack 2. By Philip Naylor. Heinemann Pounds 31.95. (Evaluation pack containing a copy of each publication Pounds 34.95)
CO-ORDINATED SCIENCE Student Book 2. By Christopher Lale, Ann Daniels and Mark Duke. Collins Pounds 10.99. Teacher's Pack 2 Pounds 55
CO-ORDINATED SCIENCE Biology. By Mary Jones and Geoff Jones
CO-ORDINATED SCIENCE Chemistry. By Mary Jones, Geoff Jones and David Acaster
CO-ORDINATED SCIENCE Physics. By Mary Jones, Geoff Jones and Phillip Marchington. Cambridge University Press Pounds 11.50 each. (Co-ordinated Science is also available in a two-volume Balanced Science format)
Sir Ron Dearing has a lot to answer for. His stream-lining of the national curriculum, coupled with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's decision to restrict the number of GCSE syllabuses, caused publishers - and exam boards - more angst than they deserved.
These new materials are aimed at the 1998 syllabuses: Heinemann targets NEAB (and can be adapted for SEG modular) whereas Collins' material is designed for MEG's Suffolk syllabus. The Cambridge books have no particular affiliation, which may be to their advantage.
Heinemann's New Modular Science for GCSE, which is the Year 11 book, contains sections on: waves and radiation; structures and bonding; environment; patterns of chemical change; inheritance and selection; and forces. There are differentiated sections for higher tier students and graded questions on each "linked but discrete" double-page spread. The higher tier questions ask pupils to explain "why" and "how" rather than simply "what". For classes with a wide ability range, this approach is less divisive than handing out separate books.
This attractive book reads well and uses appropriate, clear diagrams and photographs.
Heinemann's Assessment and Resource Pack contains practice examination questions organised as end-of-module tests; exercises to develop data-handling skills; Sc1 investigations aimed at the four skill areas as well as complete investigations and differentiated worksheets. The activities are well presented, although not particularly inspiring, and are photocopiable.
The Cambridge books are the second edition of the Co-ordinated Science series first published in 1993. They are enlivened by high-quality diagrams and have good indexes, apparatus lists and answers to questions involving calculations (there are 10 in Biology, 100 in Chemistry, and over 300 in Physics.) The books are designed for the full range of attainment. Pupils will like the modern feel that they present and the quality of the visual material, particularly in Biology. The integration of Sc1 investigations into the main flow of content is welcome, and the large number of "why?" questions should make pupils think about science rather than simply recall it. These books present science as challenging and creative as well as understandable and relevant.
Collins's Co-ordinated Science materials support the Suffolk syllabus. The student book contains sections on variation, inheritance and evolution; the working plant; health in the balance; carbon chemistry; chemical economics; the periodic table; using electricity; physics at work as well as Earth, space and radiation.
It also has several features that make it my favourite. There is a 26-page revision chapter with succinct summaries for each topic as well as examination questions. Two-page reference sections listlaboratory skills and data stores on the three sciences. Examination questions and checklists of facts and ideas are grouped into Suffolk's credit, merit and special system, and the checklists are further divided into foundation and higher tier material.
Sc1 investigations and comprehensive technician notes complete the pack which teachers working outside their specialisation will find supportive.
Justin Dillon is director of the International Education Unit, King's College London