Parliamentary and curricular reform

6th February 1998 at 00:00
CHANGING LIFE IN SCOTLAND AND BRITAIN, 1830-1930. By Ronald Cameron, Christine Henderson and Charles Robertson. Pulse Publications (tel: 01560 600832), Pounds 7.50.

As a principal teacher working on this Standard grade unit, I welcome the arrival of this book with its very good source material in written and picture form, and excellent statistical material. These would enable any department to develop investigative exercises for every section of the Scottish syllabus. The coverage of Suffragettes, using Scottish examples of tactics and strategy is good.

The greatest weakness of the text is that it is based on the former structure of Standard grade history, so most of the tasks in the evaluation exercises are geared towards the comparison of sources, and none refer to the investigative element of enquiry, which is required from 1999. While these exercises will help foster useful skills, they do not offer hard-pressed departments an "off the shelf" approach to investigation .

Given the language used and the conceptual development highlighted at the start of each chapter, the book would best suit candidates at the upper end of general and credit levels. The text could be used as an extension to already existing materials and help the development of research skills and extended writing. Another minor criticism is the fact that three pages of the chapter on parliamentary reform are devoted to the situation before 1867.

The book does contain a fairly comprehensive index.

I have already bought a set of these texts for use in my department and have found them a useful supplement to existing materials. I hope that the next edition will include the new investigative element of enquiry skills.

Jim McGonigle is principal teacher of history at Hermitage Academy, Helensburgh

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