“We all know that teachers spend a lot of time preparing lesson plans rather than focusing on how well they deliver those lessons. This is a complete waste of time,”
Schools minister, Lord Nash, to the Independent Academies Association
, October 2014
The answer, Lord Nash says, is for schools to use standardized lesson plans so they can spend more time ‘delivering lessons’.
Perhaps Lord Nash isn’t aware most schools have timetables – the time spent delivering lessons is limited to the time allocated. Using a standardized lesson plan won’t make a 40 minute maths lesson any longer (Note to Nash: teachers prepare lessons before
But using standardized lessons, especially if mandatory within school chains, will prevent teachers matching their lessons to their pupils. It’s no use ploughing through standardized lesson plans if they’re too difficult, too easy or unfit for purpose. The ‘patented’ standardized curriculum from Mosaica purchased by schools run by Aurora Academies Trust, an offshoot of Mosaica, for example, was criticised by Ofsted
. The Learning Schools Trust, which uses ‘KED pedagogies’ developed by for-profit Swedish firm Kunskapsskolan in its academies, has recently been stopped from taking on more schools
after three of its four academies were judged Requires Improvement or worse (the fourth hadn’t been inspected when the trust was halted).
Standardized lessons, of course, could be delivered by unqualified personnel. This would contribute to the savings Lord Nash says schools will have to make as education funding is squeezed – unqualified ‘teachers’ are cheaper.
But the promotion of standardized lesson plans raises the question where the plans will come from: cui bono – who profits? Eager publishers will, no doubt, be salivating at the chance to persuade schools to purchase their pre-formed lessons.
Perhaps Lord Nash’s enthusiasm for standardized lessons plans is inspired by his association with Future Academies. Schools in the Future Academies chain follow a uniform curriculum inspired by E D Hirsch in the United States. This UK Core Curriculum, much promoted by ex-education secretary Michael Gove and ex-schools minister Liz Truss, is available from Future Academies TCC (The Curriculum Centre
Could there be a conflict of interest here when a minister recommends using the type of materials published by an academy chain with links to the minister?
Did you know History starts with the Romans? That’s because, according to Book 1 in the UK Core Curriculum
series (co-authored by Annaliese Briggs
, the short-lived head of Pimlico Free School, sponsored by Future Academies), it was the Romans who wrote things down. The authors must have forgotten about Herodotus and Thucydides. Peter Wilby
, interviewing Dr David Green of Civitas (which also sells the UK Core Curriculum books), found the final book contained incorrect information such as Bolivians speaking Portuguese. If these books are supposed to impart essential knowledge, then it’s surely essential the knowledge is correct.