Some of the answers

1st December 1995 at 00:00
Answers Pack 2 By John Foster Collins #163;36.75 0 00 312007 4 Age range 7 to 11

This resource shows how each of the five cross-curricular themes in Curriculum Guidance 3: The Whole Curriculum can provide suitable material for a personal, social and health education course.

The Answers programme is described as "complete", though how any PSHE resource can be complete is baffling, particularly when the author himself suggests supplementary resources. However, the range of material Answers offers is imaginative and courageous, including such subjects as bereavement and loss, the joys and sorrows of gambling, a frank and detailed description of heterosexual intercourse, air pollution, rows with parents, vivisection and animal welfare, drugs, trust, slavery, prejudice and poverty.

The format is the same as for the key stage 1 pack: a sturdy plastic folder containing 24 A3 colour posters, with a highly relevant, usually open-ended question shouting helpfully from each, and a 160-page, ring-bound resource book of teacher's notes, exercises and photocopiable material.

The posters are wonderful. Glossy, beautifully shot photographs are a resource in their own right. I loved the proud girl showing off her cookery straight from the oven, and the challenge, "How could you start a business selling your shortbread?"

I have some reservations. Apart from two car crash victims, I could find little reference to disability. Other issues are firmly grasped - sex, drugs, gambling and prejudice - so why only mention disability in passing? I was sorry to see no explicit mention of homosexual love, although the opportunity is presented for teachers or pupils to talk about this subject if they want to.

It is worrying to see sex with a condom described as "safe" rather than "safer". The section on drugs presents medicines as rosy and illegal drugs other than cannabis as generally gruesome.

With children of any age it is hard to get the balance of responsibility right without knowing the pupils, but current advice is to provide accurate information. It would certainly help credibility to add that medicines can be problematic and illegal drugs may be enjoyable.

In the section dealing with bereavement, it would have been valuable to consider the loss of a sibling as well as a parent and to provide children's personal accounts of how they felt.

I would also like to have seen pupils encouraged to suggest ground rules for class behaviour rather than rely on those drawn up by the teacher.

The pack is likely to be highly-successful in informing pupils and helping them to explore attitudes, but greater care may be needed to ensure skills are also developed.

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