Views on the news

20th November 1998 at 00:00

By Keith Flinders and Emma Flinders.

Hodder amp; Stoughton Pounds 7.99.


By Peter Webber.

Stanley Thornes Pounds 7.


By John Edwards.

Stanley Thornes Pounds 7.


By Peter and Carol Goddard.

Nelson Pounds 10.50.

Each of these books deals with issues that regularly make the headlines - global warming, transport, pollution - surely a compelling case for geography's place in the key stage 4 curriculum. Their detailed and well-written case studies will enable informed decision-making - politicians should read them. All aim to support a core GCSE text and include a full range of stimulus material and activities.

Issues and Debates covers 23 topics in 80 pages. Half the case studies are UK-based, with a few from Europe. There is a good balance between physical, human and environmental themes. The text works best when the issues are given a sharp focus - should changing coastlines be protected, for instance? A strength is the wealth of detail. The typeface is small, as are many of the illustrations, and the book is only 50 per cent colour - a trade-off against price.

The UK and Europe are each 96 pages long and have sections on the physical and human background, resources and environmental issues, economic activity, population and settlement and the "world beyond". Background information introduces 16 detailed case studies in the UK and 20 in Europe. Essential priorknowledge is indicated in a "Do you know?" box. Some of the illustrations are excellent - the photograph of the greenhouses in Almeria is stunning.

Of the 12 Decision Making Exercises, nine are based in the UK, one in Europe and two elsewhere. Students develop their knowledge and understanding in a series of activities before reaching a decision. Foundation and Higher tier questions are given, with the former offering more structure and the latter demanding more explanation. Of the four books, this has the largest typeface and the clearest layout, but this is reflected in its length (128 pages) and price. A useful teacher's resource book is available, but only if you buy a class set of 10 or more copies.

These texts will enhance any GCSE course. Issues and Debates, The UK and Europe are most appropriate for middle and higher ability students. Decision Making Exercises caters for a wider ability range. The degree of overlap with your core text and the support for your syllabus are important considerations. I would want all of them in the school library and - funding permitting - a class set of at least one.

Keith Grimwade is general adviser for geography for Cambridgeshire

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