Curriculum adviser says changes 'flawed'
Published: 12th Jun 2012 18:03:10
The proposed changes to the primary school curriculum in England have been condemned as "fatally flawed" by an expert adviser to the review.
Professor Andrew Pollard has written a blog distancing himself from the plans for English, maths and science.
He argues that the proposed curriculum is too narrowly prescriptive for the "real world of classrooms".
The Department for Education said it wanted to "restore rigour in what primary schoolchildren are taught".
Prof Pollard, writing in an Institute of Education blog, warned that the proposals published by the government earlier this week failed to recognise the range of ability levels, particularly the less able.
He warned that the level of prescribed detail would have a profoundly "constraining" effect on teachers in the classroom.
The approach is fatally flawed”
"The approach is fatally flawed without parallel consideration of the needs of learners," writes Prof Pollard.
The claim was rejected by the chair of the expert panel, Tim Oates, who said the revised curriculum was "not some rigid straitjacket".
"There remains flexibility for schools in the scheduling of content," said Mr Oates.
And he said that the proposals drew on the experience of studying 18 international school systems.
The proposed changes to the primary curriculum in England call for a more challenging approach to maths, science and English.
Pupils in primary schools will be expected to know their 12-times table by the age of nine.
There are also plans to scrap the current system of levels used for Sats tests and measuring pupils' progress.
In maths, the curriculum review wants to ensure strong foundations in adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing, so that pupils are ready for more stretching maths topics in secondary school.
In science, there will be content added on the "solar system, speed and evolution", with an "increased focus on practical scientific experiments and demonstrations".
The lives of famous scientists, such as Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton, will also be studied.
Earlier announcements proposed that learning a foreign language would be compulsory from the age of seven.
In changes to English, there will be a greater emphasis on learning grammar, and pupils will be expected to be able to recite poetry.
The other subjects of the primary curriculum will be kept - with a continuing requirement for art and design, design and technology, geography, history, ICT, music and physical education.
But there is a major change proposed for how achievement is measured - with plans to remove the current system of levels.
Politicians who have been in the job for two years are presenting a heavily prescribed curriculum as a fait accompli”
These levels are used by schools to measure pupils' progress - and the percentage of pupils reaching Level 4 at the end of primary school is the key measure used in primary school league tables.
Such measures are also considered by inspectors - and the level system advances through primary and into secondary schools.
If the levels are removed, according to the proposed timetable it would mean a different system of grading and league tables for tests taken in the spring of 2015.
Education Secretary Michael Gove says that the current system is "confusing for parents".
There has been no decision about what would replace the levels, but, in a letter to Mr Oates, Mr Gove says there would need to be another way of measuring achievement.
"Some form of grading of pupil attainment in mathematics, science and English will therefore be required, so that we can recognise and reward the highest achievers as well as identifying those who are falling below national expectations," writes Mr Gove.
Christine Blower of the National Union of Teachers welcomed the "abandonment of awarding levels", but said she wanted to see the detail of any replacement grading system.
The leader of the ASCL head teachers' union, Brian Lightman, said that this would also mean scrapping the level system in secondary schools - and warned of a "vast amount of uncertainty".
Russell Hobby, leader of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the curriculum review had positive changes in science and in encouraging reading for pleasure.
And he said that the new versions of maths and English would be "more demanding".
But he said the "proposals are less dramatic than they seem at first glance".
"Nine out of 10 primaries already teach a foreign language. Phonics is also already widely used, and speaking and listening are similarly encouraged."
At 07:00:20 in BusinessThe Labour Party is looking to sever its links with the troubled Co-op Bank, bringing to an end one of the oldest political partnerships in UK.
At 06:56:22 in Northern IrelandDisposable income in Northern Ireland households is increasing but is less than half of the UK average, according to an economic consultancy.
At 06:42:19 in Northern IrelandPlans have been submitted to build a nine-storey, 200-bedroom student accommodation block next to the University of Ulster's new Belfast campus.
At 06:42:13 in WalesConcerns raised earlier this month about a lack of long-term vision for education in Wales were first highlighted over six years ago.
At 06:33:01 in HeadlinesChina has released a Japanese cargo ship it seized over a war-time debt after compensation was paid, a court statement said.
At 06:29:26 in WorldH2O helped build Hamburg. From its early days as the biggest city in the Hanseatic trading league, to today as one of Europe's largest ports, water has been crucial to its affluence.
At 06:13:25 in Northern IrelandSkills shortages are a concern in the NI construction sector as its recovery continues, according to a survey.
At 06:05:36 in HeadlinesThe Duchess of Cornwall has been left "devastated" by news of her brother's death, Clarence House has said.
At 05:28:48 in EnglandThe Conservatives have said they will not subsidise new onshore wind farms if they win the 2015 general election.
At 04:37:25 in EnglandA man impaled in the neck by an industrial drill in a "freak accident" has been taken to hospital.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Curriculum adviser says changes 'flawed' [Online] (Updated 12th Jun 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1434173/Curriculum-adviser-says-changes-flawed [Accessed 24th Apr 2014]
News In Other Categories
Concerns raised earlier this month about a lack of long-term vision for education in Wales were first highlighted over six years ago.
The last avalanche forecast of the latest Sportscotland Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) season has been published.
With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
The Labour Party is looking to sever its links with the troubled Co-op Bank, bringing to an end one of the oldest political partnerships in UK.
China has released a Japanese cargo ship it seized over a war-time debt after compensation was paid, a court statement said.
Cult comic character Frank Sidebottom has inspired a film starring Michael Fassbender, while a documentary and biography are also in the works. Four years after his creator Chris Sievey died, why is Frank's legend growing and who was the man behind the mask?