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Education reform ‘overly prescriptive’

Michael Gove’s proposed education reforms for the national curriculum have been criticised by one of the experts originally involved in drawing them up.

Andrew Pollard was one of four academics on an expert panel that drew up the stages. Pollard drew up the framework intended to shape the new curriculum, which was published last December, but not the detail of the reform.

He has argued that the changes are too prescriptive and detailed, leaving teachers little flexibility or opportunity to use their expertise.

The reforms would see yearly specifications in English, maths and science, including compulsory foreign language learning from age seven and a set list of words that all children must learn to spell.

“It is overly prescriptive in two ways,” Pollard told the Guardian. “One is that it is extremely detailed, and the other is the emphasis on linearity – it implies that children learn ‘first this, then that’. Actually, people learn in a variety of different ways, and for that you need flexibility – for teachers to pick up on that and vary things accordingly.

“The Government is keen to have high expectations, but they have to be pitched at a level which is realistic. If they are pitched too high, they will generate widespread failure.”

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “It is extraordinary that the secretary of state would establish an expert panel to look into the national curriculum and then choose to ignore their advice. This Government seems determined to impose its vision of education regardless of the evidence or professional opinion.”

But the head of the review team, Tim Oates, said in a statement released by DfE: “Publishing content year by year is not some rigid straitjacket. There remains flexibility for schools in the scheduling of content.”

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Image c. Seth Youngblood


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