10th November 2000 at 00:00
ON TARGET ENGLISH. By Hilary Frost, Sarah Lindsay and Heather Painter. Pupil's books: Comprehension and Writing Skills, Sentence and Word Skills from pound;4.25, Big Book pound;19.99. Teacher's Resource Book pound;19.99

All available for year groups 2 to 6. Longman In this new series Longman unashamedly cuddles up to Mr Blunkett by picking up the challenge to get 80 per cent of 11-year-olds to level 4 by 2002.

They do so, with a refreshing lack of embarrassment, by focusing on "average" pupils. This is a well-structured package and, although I don't usually go for fussy gimmicks, I found the extended covers to the pupil's books that Longman use to create "challenge flaps", to be a simple and effective device. The challenge is for the child to work with the flaps down because they cover up small ut useful tips on grammar and vocabulary, then if the child needs a little extra support, he lifts the flap for help.

The big books have finely chosen and wonderfully varied content and there are some splendid double-spreads. The Year 6 big book (my favourite) was a particularly enticing concoction, but I liked the colour, the clarity and the coverage of all the pupil's books and I think teachers will find the series particularly handy when they have to go target-shooting.

The illustrations in the pupils' books fall below the high standard set by the striking photographs of animal heads on the covers. And you may share my reservations about the extensive use of computer-generated handwriting in the text, but overall this is a functional package well worth a second look.

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