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10th March 2000 at 00:00
Teenagers are at the junction of many competing forces - families, friends, rivals and teachers. Their consequent confusions are inherently dramatic, and many TV series have exploited them, not always scrupulously. Going To The Dogs, a play that has already been successfully performed in Lancashire, takes 12-year-old Caroline through the lures and perils of truanting from her new secondary school. From the bullying, sexist slob to the French teacher with his inopportune vocabulary tests, the school characters are sufficiently plausible to move the story along. The parents, well-intentioned but uncomprehending, are palpably more than stock characters. Available from Carel Press at pound;3.99 with discount on bulk purchases. 4 Hewson St, Carlisle CA2 5AU. Tel: 01228 538928, fax: 01228 591816, E-mail Carel_Press@compuserve.com.

"Back to Basics" is one of the most disastrous labels ever attached to a piece of government policy. The alliteration seems, nonetheless, to have a permanent appeal. It is currently the title of an initiative launched by London's Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital (hydrotherapy session, above) whereby children learn six multiplication tables or 50 new spellings to raise funds for the hospital. Teachers may groan at the thought of yet more duties attached to the literacy and numeracy strategies, but this time, children and families will do most of the work. Schools merely collect and pass on the money - and the cause is deserving. Contact Jan Kemsley, Tel: 020 7916 5678 or write to 40-41 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AJ, wbsite: www.gosh.org.uk Teachers know they can always do with guidance on improving teaching. It's about time they got it - though not from opinionated editors, self-promoting politicians or even Ofsted commissars, but from those who have spent their lives, in schools and universities, thinking about real children in real classrooms. Lewisham LEA has supported three years' research on raising standards. The emphasis in its 144-page book is on putting teachers' knowledge to use, through "peer coaching". Improving Teaching, pound;25 from the publications officer, Lewisham Professional Development Centre, Kilmorie Road, London SE23 2SP. Tel: 020 8314 6146 "Da Capo" means "from the beginning". It's also the name of an organisation promoting musical learning for the very young. Working in partnership with Trinity College of Music, in central London, it is running sessions for three to seven-year-olds, in six centres throughout the capital. The focus is on the basic elements of musical language, giving children the confidence to walk a pulse, clap a rhythm and sing a melody at the same time. For those outside London, there are sets of rhythm flash cards, musicianship worksheets, and the Da Capo Songbook. This uses the well-tried method of rewriting words - featuring pigs on bikes and disgusting dinners - to familiar tunes.

Da Capo, 263 Squires Lane, London N3 2QS. Tel: 020 8371 0302, fax: 07070 800 754, E-mail: admin@dacapo.co.uk, website: www.dacapo.co.uk Courses pound;80 a term of 10 45-minute sessions. Da Capo Songbook pound;7.99 (pound;14.50 with CD).


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