When I saw what it said on the cover of the Community Education Development Centre's latest publication my immediate reaction was Attaboy! Why should everybody else get away with it? What sparked me off was not the main title (Bringing Learning to Life) but the line underneath it which reads "Involving the community in the National Curriculum".
On closer inspection, what the authors, David Howe and Joan Wilson have produced, however, is not vengeance on startled civilians by School Curriculum and Assessment Authority-wearied teachers but a compendium of advice on how to relate out-of-school work to the statutory orders. The fear is - and observation shows it to have some basis in truth - that teachers might withdraw into the classroom in order to get through the prescribed content in the available time. This book counters the notion by demonstrating, with a wealth of practical examples, that work with the community can make coverage of the curriculum more interesting and more in line with the learning needs of children. It starts by looking at national curriculum opportunities for community links and goes on to give nine school-based case studies drawn from three key stages. The final part details a range of in-service activities. (pound;9.95 from CEDC, Lyng Hall, Blackberry Lane, Coventry CV2 3JS) Helping teachers seems to be one of the themes this month. Thus from Kogan Page comes 500 Tips for Teachers by Sally Brown, Carolyn Earlam and Phil Race. (pound;9.99) There was a time when publishers professed not to like books which were what they called, with a slight curl of the lip, "Tips for Teachers". Presumably times have changed, and this one, despite the title's emphasis on quantity, does look at a series of serious themes, six in all, including Planning and Assessment, Using Teaching and Learning Resources Well, and Being an Effective Colleague. Each of these, in turn, is divided into eight to ten sub-sections. The whole structure both makes the book accessible and gives it the impression of serious intent so that it turns out to provide serious support for new teachers.
Also intending to give direct no-nonsense help are two new titles from the prolific New Education Press - Your Guide to Supply Teaching in Schools by Anne Cox (for primary-middle) and Your Help with Supply Teaching in Schools by Hilary Russell (for middle-secondary). Both pound;2.95. NEP, PO Box 369 Camberley. GU15 1QS. Both books take the line that supply teaching is a good route for would-be returners and for newly qualified teachers who cannot find full-time posts. Both are full of basic good advice about short term classroom management and basic survival skills - including "Examples have been known of teachers going to the wrong school because they forgot to ask who was calling and 'thought they recognised the voice'."
One or two things bothered me a little about these two books. One was the constant emphasis, especially by Hilary Russell, on dealing with discipline ("Clay is a very tempting missile! If you have a renowned 'naughty' group I would also avoid painting. It is amazing how far powder paint and water can carry!") It is also amazing, Hilary, how so many supply teachers can produce better art work from the pupils than the incumbent teacher ever managed to do. The other omission is the lack of discussion of, or advice about private agencies. They get a mention, but we need a lot more than that these days.