This month, with the help of a panel of children, Crash Course looks at some Christmas crackers!

First of all, though, there is some good news on the educational front. A new organisation, British Educational Software Associates, has recently been set up to improve the availability and distribution of educational software. Eight firms (ASK, Bourne, Calpac, Collins, Griffin, Hill MacGibbon, MacMillan and Widgit) have formed this new marketing consortium to help selected retailers service a market which, according to Roy Davey, marketing director of Collins Soft and Hill MacGibbon, is ‘diffused and frustrated’. He feels, quite rightly, that schools have difficulty in finding a retailer who offers a good choice of software together with a fast ordering service, and who allows the customer to view programs before purchase. BESA has now appointed 200 retailers throughout Britain who will stock a ‘core list’ of 40 programs and will be able to meet orders for other titles from some 250 in the catalogue within 48 hours. Support for retailers will be handled by Proteus, the leading educational software distributor.

This is a very welcome move, both from the point of view of schools and of home users. Up till now, most of the high street stores have paid only lip-service to the area of educational software, and it is hoped that the promotion of BESA in local newspapers and in information hand-outs to schools will begin to rectify matters. If the experiment proves successful, the consortium would hope to expand in 1986.

But now on to this month’s software selection. I asked a panel of children, ranging in age from 7 to 13 years, to look at the programs with me, and to decide whether or not they’d like to get the games for Christmas. Each game was awarded a score out of 10.