Primary curriculum to be changed radically

So, yet another educational change proposed.

According to the BBC news site,

The report from government adviser Sir Jim Rose wants to create a more flexible, less “overloaded” timetable.

As I’ve noted before, when the National Curriculum was proposed I assumed that it would provide for a minimum of stuff that every child would be expected to know, and that individual schools and teachers would be able to organise their teaching as usual, provided that this minimum was included.

I became more and more horrified as I learned just how all-embracing the NC was going to be.

Now at last, many years later, it looks as though primary schools are to have something more like my original expectations. There are to be six areas of learning:

  • understanding English, communication and languages
  • mathematical understanding; scientific and technological understanding
  • scientific and technological understanding
  • human, social and environmental understanding
  • understanding physical health and well-being
  • understanding the arts and design

My fear is that civil servants in the education department will take these as the outline which they will colour in (to use, clumsily, a primary school image) with just as much prescriptive jargon as before. Give the whole schools section of the department an extended holiday while the report is handed to schools – as guidance rather than command – and then let them come back from holiday and turn their attention to something else, like repairing leaking classrooms. Leave teaching to teachers.

Number One Son was at primary school before the NC came in, and was caused by a trendy teacher to spend a whole term writing and illustrating a project on birds. Nothing else, as far as I could see. No textbooks in the classroom. The headmaster assured me that Number One Son would reach the same levels as if he had had conventional teaching (and in fact he got a good Cambridge Classics degree); but perhaps the NC was devised to avoid extremes like that.

It is encouraging that the first area of learning is to be “understanding English, communication and languages” – languages plural.

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