Wise buys in citizenship

7th March 2003 at 00:00

The Education Show gives PSHE teachers the ideal opportunity to preview new material, says Adrian King

When you ask yourself how you plan to spend the remainder of this financial year's PSHECitizenship materials allocation, your thoughts may turn to glossy, pristine books, packs and posters designed to brighten up shelves and curriculum alike.

A dilemma may arise in your mind: should you use this annual opportunity to replace tried-and-tested materials that have found their way to the "now incomplete" section of the resources cupboard, or instead, seek out newly-published resources in harmony with the PSHE framework, the Citizenship Programmes of Study and the National Healthy School Standard?

A visit to the Education Show could be very helpful, if only to streamline browsing.

But caution is advisable, for beautiful illustrations, and the irresistible smell of new books can lull and entrap. Not all new publications are good.

Not all old resources are out of date. And it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the most potent and significant tool for the PSHE teacher is oneself. Resources can inform, provide ideas and strategies, and support the process, but they cannot replace the skilled facilitator.

These are the key questions to ask when selecting new resources: Will this resource fit in with my school's PSHE aims? Does it enable learning by raising helpful questions, or restrict by `providing answers'? Is it principally didactic or does it promote interaction? If it deals with sex and drugs, does it accord with current best practice? Will dipping into it interfere with the integrity of the programme? Is it photocopiable and durable? Are its illustrations and language suitable for its stated age range while reflecting pupil inclusion? Does it appeal to my expertise and my understanding of my pupils? And finally, should I have confidence in the author?

Assess materials carefully. If money is scarce, be choosy.

What should you look out for at the show? Pupil reading books may be useful as reference sources but, along with videos, their role in supporting interactive learning is often not a natural one. But at Franklin Watts, three titles for pupils aged eight to 14, Drug Culture, The Far Right and Racism and Immigration and Asylum (pound;9.99) are worth a look, together with its award-winning When It's Hard To. series addressing disability, now available as pound;6.99 paperbacks, for those aged eight to10 with special needs.

LDA's The Socially Speaking Game sounds enticing. Designed to teach and reinforce social skill through role-play and problem-solving for pupils aged 5-11 and special needs, it costs pound;24.95. The value of games in the classroom can often be boosted by discussions after the game itself.

SEMERC will showcase its new interactive subscription website Just Like.

School! It is aimed at 7-11 pupils with behavioural and personal problems and the pound;189 annual subscription includes CD-Roms, books and a board game designed for use in circle time. Worth its weight in gold, or an expensive novelty? You judge.

Finally, I recommend a visit to Letts Educational Books. The firm's Citizenship: GCSE Short Course Resource Pack with its focused support for 14-16 Citizenship will attract schools offering either exam or unassessed programmes. It sets out requirements for GCSE short courses from Edexcel, AQA and OCR and offers Inset for the citizenship teacher as well as the lesson notes for a five-term, 10-module course. Expensive, perhaps, at pound;75, but a cheaper, slimmer option is due in May.

Adrian King is an independent health education consultant


Franklin Watts PV326



Letts Educational Books PV116

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