Revision works aid progression
The National Curriculum Mathematics series was originally published by Canterbury Educational Ltd and quickly became a best-seller. Each book was linked to a national curriculum level of attainment. This edition, published as New National Curriculum Mathematics, retains the main features of the earlier books, but has been revised in the light of Dearing. Although content is no longer linked to specific levels in the programmes of study, each text is still broadly matched to the level of the title.
The format of the series is straightforward. Each book is divided into sections covering number, algebra, shape, space and measures, and handling data. The authors claim that using and applying mathematics is integrated throughout and this is true to a point.
Although the progression of skills associated with decision making, communicating and reasoning is not presented clearly, the varied nature of the tasks means that the opportunities to develop such skills are more plentiful here than in many similar-looking series.
Each section begins with a useful summary of work assumed from previous levels. This can be used flexibly by both teacher and pupils to check on earlier learning. The range of activities is wide and includes points for discussion, practical activities, puzzles and investigative starters as well as more conventionally graded practice exercises. Presentation is clear with good illustrations. I particularly liked the use of photographs in Book 7. An attempt has been made to match literacy demands to the mathematical levels of the books.
Overall, the open nature of many of the activities is likely to compensate for the limited scope imposed by the "levelness" of each volume. The books will help many teachers provide variety and challenge in their maths lessons. The revisions in this edition are not sufficient to warrant replacing earlier stocks in school, but they are likely to ensure the continued success of the series.