Willis Pickard reports on this year's TESSSaltire Society award for educational publishing.
The winner of the sixth TES ScotlandSaltire Society award, Hodder and Stoughton for Simon Wood's Scotland and the Second World War, admirably fulfils the aim of producing materials for the Scottish curriculum which meet the highest standards of presentation.
The pound;500 annual prize is intended to encourage publishers and to recognise that all areas of the Scottish school curriculum which differ from those elsewhere in the United Kingdom deserve professional support.
Books and other printed materials are eligible for the award, as are those using the electronic media.
The judges - Gerry Mortimer, convener of the educational publications panel of the Saltire Society, Elizabeth Adrian, former development officer with Fife advisory service and myself as editor of The TES Scotland - are conscious of two challenges that may be in conflict.
The first is that young people experience through television, videos, CD-Roms, and increasingly materials from the Internet, high quality images and easily assimilated methods of presentation.
Such demands, however, entail high costs, particularly when the publishing market is limited, as in serving the Scottish curriculum.
Over the years the judges have been pleased by the range of publications submitted. Science as well as more obviously Scottish areas of the curriculum, such as history and literature, have featured, and that was again the case this year. There were titles in physics, biology, geography and religion. Two of these have been singled out for commendation - Nelson's Standard Grade Biology by Alastair Hay and Michael Roberts, and Hodder and Stoughton's Standard Grade Physics by Andrew McCormick and Arthur Baillie. Both were lucid in text and eye-catching in illustration.
The winning account of Scotland's role in the Second World War, one of the most widely taught themes in secondary school history, also caught the eye immediately, although one of the judges had doubts about the detail in the uniform of the Scottish soldier pictured on the cover. The publisher had clearly invested not just in high quality, imaginatively chosen illustrations but with Simon Wood, the author, had successfully integrated Scottish war experiences into the (infinitely more important) world scene.
Gerry Mortimer, who has taught and lectured in history, commented: "There is emphasis nowadays, especially in the 5-14 guidelines, on pupils gathering and evaluating sources, and here good sources are indicated with possibilities for pupils extending the range."
He also noted that, unlike in some texts, the raids on Clydebank were not the only mention of Scotland under bombardment - an important point for linking pupils' sense of local identity to wider themes.