Software for schools

Reviews supplied by Schoolzone, an independent body which asks teachers to evaluate digital learning titles
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Resource title
Software publisher
Recommended age group: KS1, KS2 = Key Stage 1, 2 etc.

Talking First Word


Foundation, KS1, KS2

Talking First Word is, as it suggests, a talking word-processor program. It includes a good collection of curriculum-relevant words and pictures that can be easily accessed by pupils. This feature is also useful to extend their vocabulary, through the picture prompts which accompany new words, and they can use them to illustrate written work too.

A speech tool means children can hear their written words spoken aloud by the computer. This aids inclusion of special needs pupils because hearing what they have written gives them a feeling of achievement as well as helping them correct mistakes. Four levels of complexity allow the teacher to decide which aspects of the program they wish to introduce to their class as you can add or delete functions from the tool bar.



KS1, KS2, KS3

Matchword is a literacy resource-creating package. It combines resource manufacturing tools on CD with a book to help teachers make new word and sentence level activity resources tailored to children's individual needs.

There are over 19,000 words and 500 pictures that can be arranged in 175 activities and the package even includes some Spanish vocabulary. The range of resources that can be made varies from simple matching cards for games like Bingo and Go Fish, to more complex activities like word searches and crosswords. This resource will support even the newest of teachers in producing clearly targeted word and sentence level activities for all children. Lesson ideas are included on the CD.

Special Needs Assessment Profile

Hodder Murray

KS1, KS2, KS3

SNAP is a "wide angle" and "in-depth" diagnostic resource (not a test) for use by a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) or special needs learning support assistant. It provides a systematic and comprehensive overview of a child's specific learning difficulties (SpLDs). It is aimed at the 5-14 age range and is a carefully constructed computer program that matches a child's data against checklists for 15 SpLDs to help identify those which seem to be most prominent. It reports back with an analysis of the blend of SpLDs that make up the child's particular learning difficulties and then generates self-help and information sheets which can be shared with parents.

Study Skills Success!

Clarity Language Consultants Ltd


Study Skills Success! is a complete study skills course aimed at GCSE. It covers lectures, note-taking, analysing an assignment, planning and writing it, as well as developing students' ability to improve their grammar and broaden their vocabulary. An accompanying website provides extension activities and links to other sites of general academic interest.

To make full use of the CD's technology and Web support, it should be networked, although it can be used as a stand-alone resource. The benefits of networking include the ability to access the assessment program and see each student's progress at a glance.

History Online


KS3, KS4, 16+

History Online is a subscription-based internet service specifically designed to be used by history teachers. The site is filled to the rafters with loads of useful stuff; everything from classroom resources to details of professional development courses for teachers via revision games, reviews of websites, books and CDs along with much more beside. A vast array of resources for teachers can be printed off and adapted, or used online. History Online has been written by experts whose only thought was that it had to be useful to UK students and UK courses (National Curriculum, GCSE or AS/A2).

Granny's Garden


KS2, KS3

Granny's Garden is a lively modelling and problem-solving program designed to promote thinking skills and collaborative working. Though it was first produced in 1983, the graphics and animation have been updated but the same ingredients of fairy-tale genre are still exciting and stimulating for primary school children.

The program is in four parts and children must complete each of the first three in order to get a password that enables them to move on. Children have the help of a raven with magical powers, and teachers have the help of a list of notes. These are particularly useful if a group or pair get stuck and discouraged during one of the adventures.

Maximise Your Mark

Nelson Thornes


This interactive CD-Rom is designed to support revision of the Graphic Products GCSE written paper, using bold bright colours, interactive interface and appropriate clear graphics alongside comprehensive detailed text. It has an eye-catching, easily navigated format of 10 broad topics further divided into sub-sections giving students bite sized chunks of information - all accessed from a standardised activity menu. Each page is clearly presented, allowing quick navigation to relevant sections.

The CD enables a range of uses, from independent individual revision to whole class activity via an electronic white board. The software produces a range of printable resources, including a revision planner in Word format for individuals to log progress, either electronically or as a printed hard copy.

The Geometer's Sketchpad v4


KS3, KS4, 16+

The Geometer's Sketchpad is a dynamic geometry package that allows students to explore constructions and 3D images.

Sketchpad software allows the user to create and manipulate points and lines on screen. Some points and lines may be freely moveable, but others can be created to be in a geometric relationship to these, such as the midpoint of a line or a line parallel to another line. Such relationships are maintained consistently when points are moved.

The software comes with a range of helpful teaching accessories - a comprehensive reference manual, quick reference guides and booklets containing 101 project ideas.

ClipBank: Seeing Science

TV-Rom Titles in this series: Animals, Earth and Beyond, Electricity, Forces, Habitats and Materials

Channel 4


Based on clips from Channel 4's educational science programmes, the range of material covered in this series makes the TV-Roms useful across a range of Science QCA units. As well as being an invaluable tool in whole class teaching, the material is equally useful for supporting individual pupil work.

The main text-based reference screens have an audio function to support less able readers. If your children are building a glossary of words related to any of the topics, then the clear and scientific glossaries provided on the TV-Roms will support just such an activity.

The "Check It Out" multiple choice quizzes linked to the main topics are a fun way of reinforcing learning. The teachers' resources area of the TV-Rom contains background information articles as well as printable worksheets for children to use away from the computer.

Crocodile Physics

Crocodile Clips Ltd

KS3, KS4, 16+

This is a simulator, covering many aspects of the physics syllabus. It has many possible uses within the classroom, including but not limited to: demonstrating experiments, simulating difficult or dangerous experiments such as changing the gravitational field strength or hurling impossibly large projectiles, illustrating concepts like charge on a capacitor which are very difficult to visualise and preparing for practical work, for example carrying out preliminary experiments before an investigation.

The teacher and/or student are completely in control of the simulation, choosing the components and setting it up, it can be tailored to the individual user. The possibilities for this software are endless, as differentiation is extremely easy and it can be applied to a wide range of key stages and ages. Overall, it is an extremely attractive and versatile resource.

Atomic Learning

KS2, KS3, KS4, 16+

Atomic Learning is an online Web-based training solution which shows you how to use your favourite software through useful tutorials. It has a comprehensive selection of short QuickTime movies that cover specific tasks, for example how to set up a mail merge. The videos are easy to follow.

Most of the Microsoft Office packages such as Word, Excel and Access are covered by the tutorials. Most of them have three levels of instruction for the beginner, intermediate and advanced users. There are also videos for different versions of the software - for example, Word 2000 and Word 2002 (XP). There are thousands of tutorials for different applications.

ECDL Solution

Electric Paper

KS3, KS4, 16+

The European Computer Driving Licence is an internationally recognised qualification in core IT skills. The Electric Paper's ECDL Solution is a CD which contains 80 hours of learning material. It is supported by a workbook. The package provides assessments and training, with an automated testing system also available. The material covers all seven modules including basic concepts in IT, using the computer and managing files, word processing, spreadsheets, databases and presentations, necessary to take the ECDL test. The material is self-paced, so the student decides how much to do. The ECDL is widely delivered in industry to employees to provide training at the workplace. This software uses popular examples, mainly from Microsoft Office.

Reading and Writing Stories

Immersive Education


Reading and Writing Stories is a new title available for Kar2ouche Composer, a multimedia authoring program. Pupils use texts, characters, backgrounds and sound files to create pictures, storyboards, animations, movies, comics, and magazines. There are extracts from famous authors such as CS Lewis, Jill Murphy and Alan Garner. A teacher can use these extracts to model the writing process and as a stimulus for pupils' own writing.

There are six pre-made "suggested" activities (Setting, Sequels, Beginnings, and Alternative View Points). All activities are directly linked to the NLS and have been cross-referenced to attainment targets for ICT and PSHE. The highly visual nature of the software makes it fun to use and will motivate pupils to engage in creative writing.

Scamp 4

Pebbleshore Ltd

KS2, KS3, KS4, 16+

The Scamp 4 Census Data CD-Rom is an interactive GIS mapping program. It allows much of the 2001 census data to be recalled and displayed using a variety of different methods and scales. Maps produced from Scamp can have basic annotations added to them, be printed out, or exported to other graphics packages.

For geographical enquiries at any level, Scamp 4 is a departmental "must have". Students will find it invaluable for coursework projects and teachers will find it an intuitive program with which to investigate the socio-economic variations within settlements and areas together with contrasts in the "urban/rural mosaic".

Madge Maths Master

Caves Ltd

KS1, KS2

Madge Maths Master is a simple yet powerful tool for pupils from Year 1 to Year 6 to assist in the consolidation of number bonds/facts and times tables from two to 12. There are 171 quizzes, graded from very easy to harder.

The level of difficulty of each quiz can be changed by the time allowed for each question. Pupils' progress can be tracked by teachers with the simple data base, password secured, enabling them to keep track of strengths and weaknesses, and thus informing future planning for the individual pupil.

Pop-up Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary

Oxford University Press

KS2, KS3, KS4, 16+

This is an on- or off-line bilingual dictionary that can be used to aid comprehension of an article or to search for a word translation.

It contains over 175,000 words and phrases and 270,000 translations, which are extremely quick, and, when in Internet Explorer, it is sufficient simply to hover the mouse over a word. This word then appears automatically in the box attached to the toolbar, and the search results are offered to you in a simple and unobtrusive manner.

Sibelius Instruments

Sibelius Software Ltd

KS3, KS4, 16+

This invaluable piece of software is a comprehensive interactive encyclopaedia of western musical instruments and their use in bands, orchestras and ensembles since the 18th century. Suitable for children from primary through to upper secondary, it includes information on every orchestral and band instrument with high-quality recordings of each instrument. In addition, it covers instrumental writing and playing techniques. It also contains lesson plans, student assignments and recommended listening. This would be a great asset to any school.

Space Station Alert



Sherston's Space Station Alert contains activities to help Key Stage 2 pupils develop key skills in Shape and Space. It is also valuable for developing co-operation to achieve a goal.

Space Station Alert comes in a choice of two modes. In activity mode, skills can be closely focused on. In adventure mode, each activity is introduced through a focused adventure in which participants have to use mathematical skills. The approach is humorous and engaging. The software can be used to teach individuals or groups.

Just Like Every Other... Class!

Granada Learning Ltd

KS1, KS2, KS3

This software opens up opportunities for students to explore, alone or together with peers and teachers, a range of personal and social issues. It is particularly aimed at students who have behavioural problems. It tells the story of Megan, a schoolgirl who is always in trouble because of her disruptive behaviour. She comes to realise that this is spoiling her relationships and her learning, and by working through the various options the children can discover solutions. Students can retell the story in their own words. Another option is to answer questions about the story, encouraging the user to consider behaviour and outcomes.

BBC Schools CitizenX



This free interactive website helps to explain what it means to be a citizen to Key Stage 3 students. The site focuses on a range of topics which include Rights and Responsibilities, Identity, Conflict, Local Democracy, Community Action, Government and Parliament.

The content of these topics applies to most of the units 1 to 21 of KS3 Citizenship program as defined by the DfES Standards Site. Throughout each section/topic, the student is placed at the centre and this helps them understand his/her role as a citizen. The student is introduced to each issue using animations, quizzes, interactive exercises and photo-stories based on real life situations.

Kidspiration 2

TAG Learning Ltd

KS1, KS2

Kidspiration 2 is a resource for Key Stages 1 and 2 and is designed to enable children to develop their written work through visual techniques. Pupils can build up a page of ideas for a range of subjects which are translated into a more formal written piece of work.

The program contains 75 ready-made activities mostly focused on literacy, numeracy and science, though the possibilities are endless. These templates can be exclusively diagrams with pictures, or words as well. They are then translated into more word-based activities. Kidspiration is a very useful tool for less literate children to access more language-based parts of curriculum.

The Orange Group


With most primary schools being pushed to take part in Healthy Schools initiatives, the Udside website is a must for those schools going for Healthy Schools Status. It cleverly promotes healthy living in a way that children respond to, while providing teachers with detailed Citizenship and PSHE lesson plans.

This curriculum area is one that often gets neglected. provides the basis for an effective and enjoyable unit of work in upper Key Stage 2. The 16 interactive lessons work their way through five levels that cover a large part of the PSHE and Citizenship curriculum.