There’s a glaring gap in the new national curriculum between what is mandated and the ‘needs of the community, society and world in which our children are growing up,’ says Professor Robin Alexander in his latest blog
for the Cambridge Primary Review (CPR).
The CPR recommendations, based on years of research but never implemented in this country, included a framework of ‘domains’. These, predating the current debate on ‘British values’, included ‘place and time
, citizenship and ethics
and faith and belief
’. Robin writes:
‘The last of these was deemed integral to the curriculum because, as our community soundings confirmed, ‘religion is fundamental to this country’s history, culture and language, as well as to the daily lives of many of its inhabitants.’
But the ‘exploration of faith and belief’, which isn’t necessarily compulsory Religious Education, Robin says, is not reflected in the proposed national curriculum ‘even as religion is invoked to justify unspeakable atrocities'. He also highlights other glaring omissions:
1World history gets ‘scant treatment’.
2In Science, the ‘ethical dimension’ has been cut out.
3Culture, however defined, receives ‘short shrift’ and is missing completely from the primary phase.
Robin reminds educators they need to be ‘mindful of what is appropriate for children’ during their growing up. The ideal of a childhood free of adult concerns and fears should not, he says, be ‘lightly dismissed’. But the CPR’s ‘soundings’, taken across the country during the review’s research, were infused with ‘a sense of deep pessimism about the future’ and children were aware of this. But the soundings also revealed hope:
‘…where schools engaged children with global and local realities as aspects of their education they were noticeably more upbeat … Pessimism turned to hope when witnesses felt they had the power to act.’
What should educators do and what should children learn? Robin asks. He urges people to respond to the DfE consultation on promoting British values in independent schools, academies and free schools, which closes on the 18 August. It is available here
You can find a detailed discussion of the wider purposes of primary education and implications for the curriculum in ‘Children, their World, their Education: final report and recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review'
, chapters 12 and 14.