Draft primary school curriculum is published
Teaching unions react to the Government's draft primary school curriculum.
The Government has published its draft curriculum for English, maths and science in primary schools. Changes for September 2014 include:
- the scrapping of the current system of levels used for Sats tests and measuring pupils’ progress
- in maths, an emphasis on improving arithmetic and ensuring strong foundations in adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. Pupils will be expected to know their number bonds up to 20 by the age of seven.
- in science, the addition of new content including solar system, speed and evolution, as well as Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton, with an “increased focus on practical and scientific experiments and demonstrations”.
- In English, an emphasis on reading a broad range of fiction and non-fiction books. Pupils will be expected to be able to recite poetry
- a foreign language to be compulsory from age seven
The Department for Education says it wants the new curriculum to “restore rigour in what primary school children are taught”, the BBC reports.
The teaching unions have reacted strongly to the proposals.
Christine Blower, general Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said: “much of what is in the proposals can already be seen in schools. Children learn poems, do mental arithmetic and learn grammar. By making this prescriptive along with a whole raft of other requirements, Michael Gove’s cries for ‘freedom’ and ‘choice’ in the way teachers teach are ringing increasingly hollow.”
“Michael Gove says that he will work closely with the teaching profession to access how the new curriculum will be ‘enhanced and assessed’. It is a missed opportunity not to have had the voice of the classroom teacher on the Expert Panel.”
Chris Keates, General Secretary of NASUWT said: “"While the Coalition Government has undertaken an apparently comprehensive consultation exercise with the teaching profession and other stakeholders on the form and content of the curriculum, it is now clear that this has been a largely cosmetic exercise.
"Long-standing, unevidenced Ministerial whims about what should and should not be in the curriculum appear to have won the day, regardless of the views expressed by others. This is wholly characteristic of the Coalition Government's contempt for meaningful consultation.”
Russell Hobby, General Secretary of National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said: “some of the proposals are less dramatic than they seem at first glance. Nine out of 10 primaries already teach a foreign language. Phonics is also already widely used, and speaking and listening are similarly encouraged. Close engagement with nature and outdoor working is a feature of many primary schools.
“There is no doubt these programmes are more demanding, particularly in Maths and grammar. It is appropriate to express high expectations in a statement of curriculum aims, but schools will need time and support to develop their teaching to reach those aims. Let's ensure that these programmes become a source of inspiration rather than a cause of desperation for schools.”
Mary Bousted, General Secretary of Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) said:
"Ministers have no shame over the risk they are taking with children's education. Despite their promises of more autonomy and freedom for the teaching profession, politicians who have been in the job for two years are presenting a heavily-prescribed curriculum as a fait accompli to thousands of teachers - many of whom have decades of experience in the classroom.”
"We want to hear more about the CPD that will support a new curriculum. And crucially, where government is going to find the teachers to teach advanced maths and modern foreign languages in primary schools - the profession is under-resourced and low in confidence on this front.”
To read all these comments in full, go to the union website.