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Time for a change

SCHOOLS HISTORY PROJECT: DISCOVERING THE PAST The Changing Role of Women By Liz Bellamy and Kate Moorse.

John Murray. Student's book Pounds 7.25. Teacher's book Pounds 14.99

The Changing Role of Women is part of the School History Project's Discovering the Past series and draws on about 1,000 years of history, mostly from British sources. It is based on extensive source material accompanied by fairly detailed commentary. Although careful selection of the material is advised and the sources could be divided up among groups within the class, the whole arrangement is somewhat dense with some difficult vocabulary and will need careful handling and planning for lower ability pupils.

The general comments in the teacher's notes are interesting and helpful and indicate developments in thinking about IT in history teaching and end of key stage assessment. Using word processing to encourage pupils to draft, reassess and rewrite is good sense (if the facilities are available) and the comment that data handling, interactive CD and simulations are left to the teacher's discretion possibly reflects the price and availability of suitable packages.

The advice on assessment reflects a general and welcome move away from teaching too closely to the attainment target, especially in the earlier parts of the key stage.

Many of the skills and concepts are so inter-related that it would make for some false and lopsided work if teachers tried to separate them out too specifically in an effort to make sure that all areas had been covered in a quantitative rather than a qualititative way. In this and many other books, detailed planning grids with tick boxes are being replaced by more general strategies in which flexibility and a more sensitive response to pupil needs are uppermost.

This is a useful book which could serve a wide variety of purposes, ages and abilities and is particularly to be praised for its clear and imaginative use of illustrations as well as the wide range of standard sources we have come to expect from the Schools' History Project.

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