Workaday worksheets

28th January 2000 at 00:00
DEVELOPING LITERACY. Sentence Level, seven vols. Word Level, seven vols. Number Level, seven vols. By Christine Moorcroft. A amp; C Black, pound;14.99 each.

Some years ago I read an article entitled "Death by a Thousand Worksheets". The name of the author has flown from memory, nor can I recall whether the ultimate price was paid by teacher or pupil.

One point, however, remains clear: the worksheet, like so many good ideas in education, has been overdone.

This series of photocopiable sheets is very good at the upper end of key stages 1 and 2, less so in the early years of both key stages. At best they are challenging and inciive with meaningful extension activities built in. They also benefit from a certain sparkiness of subject matter (I especially liked the cockney poem to be rewritten in standard English).

At worst, however, they are colouring-in sheets. Literacy co-ordinators should edit the books to select the best examples for their particular school before placing them in the staff resource area. The author does warn teachers to be selective and adapt according to the needs of particular pupils. This message needs to be stamped in red on the cover of all such books.

Kevin Harcombe is head of Orchard Lea junior, Fareham, Hampshire

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