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19th May 1995 at 01:00
David Lines welcomes the revival in business studies. BUSINESS STUDIES. By Ian Chambers, Linda Hall and Susan Squires. Longman Pounds 12.99. 0 582 24483 8.

BUSINESS STUDIES TEACHER'S GUIDE. By Ian Chambers and Susan Squires. Longman Pounds 9.99. 0 582 24482 X.

GCSE BUSINESS STUDIES. By Alain Anderton. Causeway Press Pounds 11.95. 1 873929 28 5.

If we need further evidence that Sir Ron Dearing's revised national curriculum is making an impact, these two books by leading authors in the field of business studies, will provide it. At long last, key stage 4 has sufficient space to allow this popular, relevant and engaging subject to regain its vitality.

Not that business studies ever died. With a GCSE examination entry of around 100,000 in 1994 it has held its ground, unlike its stable-mate economics, but there is now a positive flurry of activity. Examination boards are offering new syllabuses and short courses; the Economics and Business Education Association is involved in negotiations to develop a combined business studies and economics GCSE; and GNVQ Part One, with its inevitable emphasis on business, is about to enter schools.

These new textbooks from Longman and Causeway respond to this more optimistic climate. Business Studies by Ian Chambers, Linda Hall and Susan Squires is divided into four themes: business and its environment; sole traders and partnerships; private and public limited companies; and public sector organisations. Within each of these themes the material is divided into units of, perhaps, a single lesson length, although some of the tasks are designed to be undertaken outside the classroom and would therefore take longer.

The units themselves have a common format including a statement of coverage, subject content, activities, data tasks, key terms and review questions. There are also case studies at the end of each of the themes which bring the material together.

The book is presented in full colour and the sources are creative and appealing to young people. The data tasks will develop students' abilities to apply knowledge and understanding in different contexts, help them to distinguish between facts and opinions and evaluate data to make informed judgments. In this way, the book meets the demands of the revised GCSE syllabuses, which look beyond subject content to a new way of teaching and learning.

The accompanying Teacher's Guide provides a wealth of information. The Introduction helpfully matches the content of the Units and Themes against the GCSE syllabuses which will be examined for the first time in 1996, but goes further to relate the material to the Foundation and Intermediate GNVQs in Business.

Each of the Units provides suggestions on teaching and learning activities, answers to the data tasks, and levels of response mark schemes for the tiered questions to the case studies. Finally there are sections on the use of IT in business studies, specifically related to the national curriculum.

GCSE Business Studies by Alain Anderton is also divided into Units, but under conventional headings, such as Accounting, Marketing, Production and so on. The units are again short, and each contains key terms as well as summary case studies.

The text is highly detailed and comprehensive, and the material used to illustrate the theory is well founded in the lives of the young people who are going to use it. Unfortunately, the lack of white space on the pages, the rather strange choice of sans serif typeface, a three column format and the most bizarre choice of colours result in a jumble which at times makes the material quite inaccessible. Such things are a matter of personal taste, of course, and so a closer inspection is recommended.

According to Causeway Press, The Teacher's Guide to GCSE Business Studies will not be available until teachers have sent in their suggestions and responses to the Student's Book. An interesting commercial decision, perhaps, but one that may tip the balance in favour of Business Studies.

David Lines is Lecturer in Business Education at the Institute of Education, University of London and Co-director of the Nuffield Economics and Business Studies Project.

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