Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Academics attack curriculum plans

Michael Gove's national curriculum proposal has come in for criticism

A group of academics have warned that Michael Gove's national curriculum proposal will severely erode education standards by 'dumbing down' teaching and learning.

In a letter published in the Independent, 100 experts said the Education Secretary's new curriculum consists of "endless lists of spellings, facts and rules" which will not help to develop children's ability to think or solve problems.

Instead children will be forced to learn mountains of detail for English, maths and science without understanding it.

The group, which includes professors from Nottingham Trent University, Leeds Metropolitan University, Oxford University and Bristol University, said the plans also betray a serious distrust in teachers.

The letter said: "Much of (the proposed curriculum) demands too much too young. This will put pressure on teachers to rely on rote learning without understanding. Inappropriate demands will lead to failure and demoralisation. This curriculum betrays a serious distrust of teachers, in its amount of detailed instructions, and the Education Secretary has repeatedly ignored expert advice."

The academics urge teachers and parents to respond to the consultation, due to end in April, calling for a fresh start.

The new draft curriculum contains plans for pupils to memorise their times tables up to 12 by age nine, multiply and divide fractions by age 11 as well as learn topics such as geometry, long division and multiplication and decimals.

In comes in the same week that two teaching unions announced a series of strikes starting this summer in a continuing row over, pay, pensions and workload.

Schools across the country are likely to be affected by the rolling programme of walkouts, along with a national strike before Christmas.

The move, announced by England's two biggest teaching unions, the National Union of Teachers and the NASUWT, is an escalation of a continuing dispute with the Government.