Life beyond the core

15th September 1995 at 01:00
Oliver and Boyd Geography has now been tailored to meet the demands of the new curriculum, writes Colin Harris.

Oliver and Boyd Geography, (Revised Version), Age group: 5-7 Key Stage 1 topic books: In Around the School - 0 582 24921 XA; A Seaside Town in Spain 24822 8A; Looking After the School 24923 6A; Looking After Nature 24924 4A, Pounds 2.99 each. Set of 12 posters 24932 5A Pounds 21.50 + VAT. Teacher's Guide (including copymasters) 24920 1A Pounds 29.99 + VAT.

Age group: 7-11 Key Stage 2 Pupil's Book 1 0 582 24925 2A Pounds 5.25. Teacher's Book 1 24929 5A Pounds 9.99. Copymasters 1 24938 4A Pounds 22. 50 + VAT. Posters 1 (Set of 6) 24935 XA Pounds 12.50 + VAT. Pupil's Book 2 24926 OA Pounds 5.25. Teacher's Book 2 24930 9A Pounds 9.99. Copymasters 2 24940 6A Pounds 22.50 + VAT. Posters 2 (set of 6) 24936 8A Pounds 12.50 + VAT.

Geography in primary schools is still alive, with rumours of its demise seriously exaggerated. Teachers who may need a gentle reminder that there is life beyond the core would find no more comprehensive assistance than the Oliver and Boyd Geography (Revised Edition).

The new features in this excellent series include up-dated Teachers' Guides incorporating all appropriate materials. At key stage 1 topic books focus on the two localities and one theme which constitute the minimum requirement for infants. The pack integrates pupils' books with copymasters and posters, enabling teachers to plan a range of activities to meet curricular needs, all based on a host of practical suggestions given in the teachers' book.

Blanes, on the Spanish coast north east of Barcelona, is the chosen "distant" locality. Pupils are supplied with well-chosen and colourful photographs, illustrating a splendid range of geographical features. There is even a spread on Blackpool for comparison.

The Lancashire theme extends to the other titles, with Formby, Ainsdale and Martin Mere as environmental studies. This does suggest a touch too great an emphasis on the north west of England, but the geographical material is consistently clear and relevant. For schools in the south, of course, these could represent distant places.

The books for key stage 2 are revised versions of the originals, and at present only the first two are available. But already the richness of material, carefully trimmed to meet both the spirit and the letter of the new Geography Order, offers an exciting exploration for young geographers and is presented in a highly-attractive format combining real places, stimulating photographs and a range of graphics. Traditionalists will rejoice at the occasional block diagram of physical features.

Book 1 concentrates on school neighbourhoods, river features, journeys and rural settlements. A section on travel from London to Machu Picchu in Peru encapsulates all the excitement of the journey and celebrates the fascination of geography the discovery of new places. In Book 2 themes and localities blend to cover key aspects of development, trade, leisure and shopping with reference to places in Britain, Europe, North America, Africa and Asia. Highlights include the sensitive treatment of a village in Burkina Faso and the case study of a Sydney suburb. While the mix of historical and contemporary sources adds interest, the only map used dates from around 1905 and could suggest to children that Southport is like this today.

Minor criticisms apart, this package provides a wealth of raw material from which to fashion stimulating schemes of work. The task is made manageable, but not easy, by the helpfully full teachers' guides, in which the essence of the revised Order has been extracted, and some of the old retained, perhaps deliberately, for example cross-curricular themes. The result is not an instant dose of geography which can be taken off the shelf but a whole battery of resources which demands careful planning and attention.

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