On the rocks

27th October 2000 at 01:00
LAUNCH THE LIFEBOAT TO READ AND SPELL. Books 1-10. Robinswood Press pound;16.95 each.

Launch the Lifeboat was developed by dyslexia specialists to cater equally for mainstream children and students of any age with specific learning difficulties; it claims to offer differentiated work for the literacy hour, and to be useful to students of English as an additional language, and parents who do home tutoring.

It consists of photocopiable worksheets designed to develop skills in hand-eye co-ordination, visual recognition and scanning, phonological awareness and auditory discrimination, spelling and kinaesthetic memory, and comprehension. It is a good formula, justifying some of the claims.

But worksheets in general are of limited value, and here the drawings are awful and often ambiguous, the sentences for comprehension purposes are contextless and often bizarre: "Sam sniffs the fluff on the hill", "Drive the costly trumpet to the hotel", "Fabric music is best". What children might learn from such comprehension exercises is not to expect meaning from print. And what does the teaching guide mean by saying, "All te words ... are in structure ...", "Both sentences are in structure and of similar construction...", "... sentences, written in structure ..."?

Teachers who know what they are doing could use a lot of this material to advantage - but overall, the programme is more of a curate's egg than a lifeboat.

Nicholas Bielby Nicholas Bielby is an author and literacy consultant Authors Amber Carroll and Mary Robertson dispute the theory that Mozart had Tourette syndrome bridgeman CURRICULUM SPECIAL OCTOBER 27 2000 RESOURCES SN inclusion literacy literacy work experience literacy OCTOBER 27 2000 CURRICULUM SPECIAL resources SN SEND US YOUR IDEAS The next TES Special Needs Curriculum Special will be published on April 7, 2001. Tell us what you think about this issue and what you would like to see next time.

Write to TES Curriculum Specials, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX.

E-mail curriculum@tes.co.ukWebsite www.tes.co.uk Advertising 020 7782 3025 Editor Joyce Arnold Editorial team Mary Cruickshank, Michelle D'Lemos, Reva Klein, Debbie Knight, Victoria Neumark Design Sharon Grant

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