Commenting on the announcement today outlining the new national curriculum, Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union said:
“It should be everyone’s goal to develop a national curriculum that enhances learning and attainment. Unfortunately this has not been achieved by the new framework. This is a curriculum written by government advisers and officials, not teachers. The price we risk paying is much greater pupil disaffection from learning as children are faced with content that is not age appropriate and does not take into account individual learning styles. Most parents will not endorse less opportunity for teachers to follow the individual learning style of their child, or their child’s particular interests.
“Several successful international systems are quoted as the inspiration for the new curriculum but only one of these (Massachusetts) has the same school starting age as England. The rest start at 6 or 7, undermining the argument that more demanding content should be presented to children earlier. In fact, the opposite should be the case. The Secretary of State also quotes Finland at a time when Finland is taking a different direction for its curriculum by emphasising critical thinking over factual content, boosting cross curricular themes and reducing content to give more time to learning.
“Not enough effort has been made to design a curriculum for lower attaining children or children with special educational needs. Teachers have concerns about whether this curriculum is right for children with SEN, who form 20% of the student population, and should not be an afterthought.
“The timescale for implementation is ridiculously short. In less than a year teachers will be expected to implement a curriculum that they have had no say in. This will almost certainly lead to confusion and chaos and comes on top of reforms to GCSEs, A- levels and vocational qualifications. All of which are also being rushed through with little thought given to the practicalities of implementation, never mind the content.
“There is nothing very national about a curriculum that does not have to be taught in academies and free schools. If, as the Prime Minister says, it is essential to raise standards, surely it should be the case that all schools follow it. We need a curriculum that makes learning the vibrant, relevant and exciting experience it should be. Such a curriculum should be mandatory in all schools.
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