26th May 2000 at 01:00
CO-ORDINATING ENGLISH AT KEY STAGE 1. By Jenny Tyrrell and Narinderjit Gill. Falmer Press, pound;13.99.

Had Machiavelli turned his mind to the English education system rather than Italian princes - and why not? - this is the book he would have written.

The new co-ordinator is urged to put down roots, socialise with colleagues, cultivate the caretaker and secretary - and then, once integrated (not to say ingratiated) into the school, they can execute the master plan of promoting excellent practice in English. If other subjects happen to have priority in the School Improvement Plan, no matter: you simply find "subtle ways of integrating literacy" into them.

Whatever the obstacles - resistant colleagues, weak headteachers - this book offers a strategy.

This is a quietly inspirational and very teacher-friendly book, where homely, commonsense advice sits alongside references to cutting-edge management research and where Alan Bennett is quoted alongside Jean-Paul Sartre (authors "modelling" breadth, I suppose).

Like all good manager (and teachers) it asks simple yet perceptive questions such as: "Who does the most talking, teacher or children?" Case studies, detailed advice on carrying out audits and guidance on assessment are included alongside reassuring and practical advice on planning. It is stated, not unreasonably, that something is wrong if it takes longer to write the plans than it does to teach the lesson. Children are at the heart of this book.

The authors are evangelistic in their belief that co-ordinators should be given time to read the latest research, attend the national NATE conferences, and talk to publishers and researchers about the real needs in primary schools. Their final advice is to "move on, go out on a high and spread the word somewhere else". Hallelujah.

Rooted in subject and management expertise (and the Teacher Training Agency standards for subject leadership), this should be required reading for all teachers new to the dark arts of co-ordinating English at KS1.

Kevin Harcombe is head of Redlands Primary School, Fareham

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