4th May 2001 at 01:00
SUPPORTING LITERACY: a guide for primary classroom assistants. By Kate Grant. Routledge Falmer pound;19.99.

It doesn't seem all that long ago that classroom assistants spent their time washing paintpots and wiping infant noses. Today, they are frontline troops in a number of major initiatives, notably in helping to meet the needs of children with special educational needs and those with English as an additional language. Classroom assistants now need to be highly informed about the basic skills of literacy and numeracy and how best to help children develop them.

This book gives thorough, clear and practical advice on the subject of supporting literacy. In a readable, user-friendly style it covers reading, writing, spelling, special needs, bilingual children and the use of computers. Eac chapter ends with a bullet-pointed summary of the major issues, and a list of useful and accessible books for further reading. There is also an excellent glossary and a selection of useful photocopiable resources.

My only quibble is with the first chapter, which outlines the structure of the literacy hour. This is clear and succinct, but could give the impression that there is only one "correct" way to approach literacy teaching - assistants in schools which have moved on from the original "15-15-20-10" structure may worry that their teachers are "incorrect". As teaching practices evolve and the literacy hour becomes more flexible, it would be as well to issue a brief health warning to this effect.

Sue Palmer Sue Palmer is a freelance writer and literacy Inset provider

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