Mergers and acquisitions
Business Advanced Level Pounds 18.99. Business Core Skills: Advanced Level Pounds 9.50. Business Core Skills: Intermediate Level Pounds 8.99 Causeway Press:
Advanced Business Pounds 15.95. Teacher's Guide Pounds 20.
Advanced Business Second Edition Pounds 19.99. Tutor's Pack.Pounds 39. 95 Oxford University Press: Advanced Business Pounds 19. Intermediate Business Pounds 16.50.
Human Resources for Advanced GNVQ Business Pounds 4.95.
Cambridge University Press:
GNVQ Intermediate Business Pounds 11.50. GNVQ Foundation Business Pounds 9.95 Hodder Stoughton:
GNVQ Advanced Business Second Edition Pounds 19.99. Foundation Business Pounds 8.99
Jill Turner compares the competition inthe textbook market for GNVQ business.
The first textbooks for GNVQ business tended to be hasty adaptations of BTEC or A-level texts, but the quality of provision has undoubtedly improved as the subject has become established and demands of the courses familiar. We now have an excellent range of publications to choose from. As in all competitive markets, the basic product is much the same and firms compete on packaging, quality and customer service. Here the basic product is the business content - the underpinning knowledge for the mandatory units. What differentiates one book from another is its structure in relation to the GNVQ specifications, the attention to the needs of students or teachers and the quality of the format and presentation.
The textbooks fall into two categories. First there are those that offer a complete course that covers the mandatory units and key skills. As well as providing the underpinning knowledge, they have well-structured assignments with integrated and cross-referenced key skills, and supporting activities for their development. These books took longer to appear on the market, but were well worth waiting for. They remove much of the hassle from planning and preparing the basic course, and are a godsend for anyone currently starting GNVQs. For those of us who have been struggling to do this ourselves for the past four years, it's nothing short of a miracle to see the contents of all those shelves and filing cabinets condensed into one textbook.
The second category offers coverage of mandatory units and may include individual or group activities for reinforcement, assignments, practice multiple choice tests and a glossary of key terms.
Longman GNVQ Business has made a major investment in the first category, covering the mandatory units at all levels. At each level the series can be purchased as a core or as individual unit texts, with an accompanying core (key) skills text. The A4 format is distinctive, but the page layout is not immediately inviting; the single column text is broken up only infrequently by tables, line diagrams and tiny monotone photographs.
The greatest strength, certainly at advanced level, lies in the conceptual development within each chapter or element. The content is well explained and followed by reinforcing activities, which progressively develop understanding. As a self-study guide the text is invaluable. The accompanying business core skills texts offer an abundance of reference guides as well as developmental activities for the three assessed skill areas.
At advanced level GNVQ, Causeway Press's Advanced Business edited by Ian Chambers provides an off-the-peg course much more succinctly. Like its A-level counterpart, this book is clearly and attractively laid out; conceptual content is explained at a level that extends but doesn't overburden; and it is interspersed with exercises and activities expertly designed to reinforce understanding.
The wealth of topical case study material is stimulating for the student and relieves staff of the time-consuming task of trying to keep material up-to-date. Chapters correspond to elements and culminate in well-written assignments, practice tests and glossaries. The key skills section at the end of the book is equally clear, accessible and attractively illustrated. An intermediate version is also now available.
The accompanying teacher's guide provides answers to all numerical questions and practice test questions; cover sheets for all assignments; specimen action plans and assessment sheets. Best of all, the key skills are cross-referenced for each assignment and mapped across the course as a whole. There's even a blank grid if you want to mix and match with your own material. This book is excellent value and, combined with the main text, hard to surpass.
The Heinemann Tutor's Pack, by David Needham and Rob Dransfield, which accompanies their earlier Advanced GNVQ textbook, also attempts to provide a complete package. It includes photocopiable assignments, answers to exercises, OHPs, as well as a teacher's guide to the scheme. The main text introduces key skills, but these are subsequently only mentioned in general terms, with no detailed cross-referencing. Content is functional and the graphics and presentation are dull compared with later publications.
There is plenty of choice among the textbooks that stop short of a complete course and provide vocational content only. They all have their own strengths.
For comprehensive subject content, Oxford University Press's Advanced Business and Intermediate Business by Dan Moynihan and Brian Titley are two densely packed books; each attractively set out using charts, photographs, case studies, newspaper articles, with plenty of activities, assignments and practice tests. They both have the feel of serious textbooks.
Collins's Advanced GNVQ Business series by Matthew Glew, Philip Gunn, Malcolm Surridge, Michael Watts and Lis Crabtree offers a first-class subject-based resource, tailored to meet the demands of each vocational unit. In Human Resources for Advanced GNVQ Business, conceptual development is well structured and the student activities and assignments are some of the best available.
For straightforward student reference, Cambridge University Press offers the much more lightweight GNVQ Intermediate Business by Richard Smith and GNVQ Foundation Business by Chris Nuttall. This series adheres rigidly to the specification, but is sadly lacking in graphical material.
Hodder Stoughton's GNVQ Advanced Business and Foundation Business by Jon Sutherland and Diane Canwell are a popular choice with students. Like the Cambridge texts, the structure is determined by performance criteria and so already dated, but the language used is straightforward and accessible to the average GNVQ student. Staff may find it simplistic and lacking in depth, but centres probably need to provide both styles to meet the full range of abilities.
With an ever-increasing range of books available, the choice is ultimately a subjective one. So far there has been little direct cover of optional units, and this is likely to remain the case until the revised specifications due in 1998 are well established. The revisions to GNVQ content and assessment will mean a complete overhaul of business textbooks. The new Part 1 Advanced GNVQ, worth one A-level, will no doubt lead to further repackaging of the content. It is very much a case of "watch this space".
Jill Turner is GNVQ co-ordinator and curriculum manager for advanced business at Godalming College, Surrey