Passionate plea from ex-HMI to save primary curriculum

Janet Downs's picture
If Government plans for the primary national curriculum are not opposed and “principled alternatives” championed then heads will find themselves having to ditch the “liberal, humane values of primary education” in favour of a “soulless bottom line of the politician”, writes Colin Richards, former HMI and a primary sector specialist adviser to Ofsted, in TES.

Richards warns that the overly-prescriptive curriculum, dominated by just three subjects and enforced by a “narrow, impoverished view” of “achievement” in these subjects, threatens primary education and is not what most teachers, parents and children want from schools.

He warns that the curriculum sidelines key concepts and the promotion of personal qualities in favour of “stuff” underpinned by “restricted approaches to early reading.” It will make nonsense of a “broad and balanced curriculum” which is likely to be squeezed in favour of the three major subjects. Richards quotes education secretary, Michael Gove: “some form of grading of pupil attainment in mathematics, science and English” will apply to all state primary schools so even primary academies will have to conform despite the much-hyped freedom from the national curriculum which is supposed to be an advantage of academy status.

Richards calls for “Optimistic, forward-looking opposition” to the proposed primary curriculum which reaffirms the values that underpin the ethos of many primary schools and which heeds the warning in the headline: “Heads need to wake up to the nightmare: Gove’s vision of neo-elementary schooling threatens all you hold dear”.

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Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sat, 24/11/2012 - 11:42

What is happening with the primary curriculum?

At ACME this year we were supposed to be discussing the maths curriculum but, as Tony Gardiner pointed out with unanimous support for the people there, how could we discuss the implementation of a curriculum which was so vastly far from being fit for purpose?

Has it made any progress at all since then? What's happening now?

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 24/11/2012 - 12:35

Professor Andrew Pollard, of London University's Institute of Education, who was on the National Curriculum Review Expert Panel, also warns that the narrow primary curriculum would be a "tragedy".

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