Spirit of the age;Cross-phase;Reviews;Books;Personal, social and health education

16th April 1999 at 01:00
Reading the Future(literacy hour KS2). pound;8.50. Future Forecasts (primarysecondary). pound;7.50. Thinking Ahead (primarysecondary assemblies). pound;7.50. Figure out your future(secondary maths). pound;7.50. Age Concern.

The Millennium Debate of the Age was launched last year to bring greater awareness of the profound demographic changes that will affect us in the next 20 years. There will be many more older people than young. How will this affect housing needs? Who will pay for the pensions? How will the NHS cope? Does the retirement age need to change?

It is timely that a consortium of organisations has produced these four booklets. They come with a message - that we need to confront and solve these issues - but are not prescriptive or dogmatic. Facts are given, questions raised and children encouraged, above all, to appreciate that their lives will also be changed.

The literacy hour booklet contains detailed schemes of work linked to texts which explore housing, culture and social relationships. Extensive teachers' notes are based on work at text, sentence and word levels.

Future Forecasts is called a statistics book, but it is more a book of activities stimulated by statistics. These cover several curriculum areas, for example, English and environmental studies at primary level, and PSHE and careers at secondary level. But I feel some of the primary activities (for example, work on pensions) are too complex for most children.

There are six assemblies for each phase in Thinking Ahead, and each has suggestions for linking the assembly to classroom activities. The themes - including family life, work and leisure - have relevant and interesting material but I wonder why the organisers did not produce separate booklets for primary and secondary.

Figure out your future is in three sections, for use with Years 9, 10 and 11. The final section, for Year 11 students, can be used as practice for assessed GCSE coursework. The approach throughout is rather directed, but the book is good at dealing with "real-life" mathematics and provides a lot of information teachers could incorporate in their own schemes.

Ian Wilson is head of Woodcote High School, Croydon.

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