Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Teachers slam 'pub quiz' curriculum

Teachers warned a 'pub quiz' curriculum will lead to more pupils skipping lessons

Teachers have launched a stinging attack on Education Secretary Michael Gove's "pub quiz" curriculum, as they warned it will lead to more demotivated students skipping lessons.

The Government's proposals risk alienating youngsters, forcing pupils to learn "facts by rote" and failing to cover vital social issues such as sex and relationships, citizenship and the environment, according to the National Union of Teachers (NUT).

At the NUT's annual conference in Liverpool, Alex Kenny called on the union to "expose the horrors" of the new curriculum, and put forward an alternative that has "social justice and equality at its heart".

A priority motion passed by delegates raised fresh concerns that the new curriculum will leave pupils facing a narrow "kings and queens" history curriculum and geography lessons that simply deal with "capes, bays, rivers and mountain ranges".

The Department for Education (DfE) insisted that the new curriculum will give every pupil a "broad and balanced" education.

Mr Kenny, who is part of the NUT's executive said: "If we are going to defeat him (Mr Gove) on education, we have not only to expose the horrors of his new curriculum, but to develop, and win support for, an alternative curriculum, which as the motion suggests, should have social justice and equality at its heart.

"So what's wrong with Gradgrind Gove's pub quiz curriculum? It's a curriculum high on content and low on aims, concepts and skills. A curriculum in which the learner is completely absent, or just a passive consumer of information or knowledge."

Mr Kenny called for Mr Gove to face arrest for "crimes against the state", claiming that the 1988 Education Reform Act enshrined in law the principle that a Secretary of State should not prescribe teaching methods.

"I'm minded to declare today my intention to perform a citizen's arrest on Michael Gove for crimes against the state," he said. "The new curriculum is full of prescribed teaching methodologies that take no account of how teachers teach or how children learn. They take no account of the views of subject experts. His obsession with transmission of knowledge means that things like sex and relationships education, citizenship, climate change and the environment, complicated issues that need discussion and unravelling disappear completely from the curriculum."

A Department for Education spokesman said: "This could not be further from the truth. The draft national curriculum is challenging and ambitious and will give every child the broad and balanced education they need to fulfil their potential."

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