Opinion Former Article

NUT National Curriculum survey: “This must not be the future for the children of England”

A survey of 2,159 NUT members shows that the majority of teachers do not agree with the proposals for the National Curriculum as set out by the Secretary of State, Michael Gove.

Two thirds of teachers felt that there is far too much emphasis on ‘facts’ rather than skills. The fear that many teachers have is that this will lead to rote learning and will squeeze out creativity and critical thinking. Clearly pupils need to learn facts but rote learning must not displace experiential learning. One teacher responded saying “this must not be the future for the children of England”. Another pointed out that “learning facts and figures is a very small part of the learning journey”. Only 8% believed that the proposal gave teachers more freedom.

A NUT-commissioned YouGov survey showed 85% of parents believe that the curriculum in secondary schools should provide a broad and balanced range of experiences and areas of knowledge which embrace both vocational and academic subjects. The results of this survey on the National Curriculum will make for disappointing reading for the Secretary of State as it shows 72% of teachers do not believe that the new proposals for the curriculum will ensure that student’s entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum will be met. One teacher wrote, “I want to create a society of critical thinkers who can interpret the world around them and innovate it to make life better. I do not want to create a society of robots who just know stuff!”.

Again, the vast majority (71%) of respondents did not agree that that the proposals would meet the needs of pupils with English as an additional language, special educational needs or disabilities. “It is evident that these proposals were written by people who had privileged upbringings and to whom learning came naturally and easily. I really fear for children who find learning challenging or schools an intimidating place,” wrote one teacher.

Commenting on the survey, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said: “This really is quite a damning view of the Government’s education policies. The National Curriculum, like so many of Michael Gove’s proposals, appears to have been written with no understanding of how children and young people learn and lacking in relevance to the 21st Century.

“It is clear from this survey that while teachers feel the current National Curriculum could be improved, they strongly feel that politicians are not listening to the profession and that these rushed changes will be of no real benefit to students. Teachers really are at their wits end with a Government which cares little for the consequences of these ill-thought out changes. Michael Gove really must be stopped for the sake of education and the pupils who will suffer under this curriculum.”

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For further information contact Caroline Cowie on 0207 380 4706 or 07879480061

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