Posted on 14th June 2012
The Going is Getting Tougher
I’ve been reading rather a lot in the papers about the drastic changes to the primary school curriculum and am impressed by the move to improve teaching standards and expectations. Numeracy and literacy are the two key areas that are being focussed on at the moment. Considering the terrifying reports about poor literacy and numeracy standards in the UK at the moment, it is excellent to hear that the government is taking serious action.
From 2014 the curriculum will be more prescriptive, rigorous and ambitious and there is going to be a real push to make sure primary school students get excellent foundations in key areas, so that they are prepared for the demands of secondary level education.
Children will be expected to know their 12 times table by the time they are nine as well as number bonds and simple addition and subtraction. They will also have set spelling lists and will be taught key words according to new lists. Moreover, there will be more stringent regulations on punctuation and grammar (music to the ears of an English tutor!). All primary school children will now be taught a foreign language, which I think is particularly good since Britain has such a terrible record when it comes to languages.
Predictably, the changes have come under a great deal of scrutiny and not everyone is keen on Gove’s plans. Labour’s shadow education secretary, Stephen Twigg told the BBC, “The fact that an expert adviser to the government on the national curriculum has called Michael Gove’s plans ‘fatally flawed’ is highly embarrassing. It now seems that after commissioning an in-depth review, the government is ignoring many of its recommendations in favour of its own prejudice and should put evidence ahead of dogma when it comes to education. The curriculum mustn’t be prey to political ideology.”
Furthermore, Andrew Pollard, who helped to devise the changes has said, “The new curriculum will preserve statutory breadth, we are told, but, whilst teaching of a foreign language is to be added, provision for the arts, humanities and physical education is uncertain at this point. The constraining effects on the primary curriculum as a whole are likely to be profound and the preservation of breadth, balance and quality of experience will test even the most committed of teachers.”
It will take a few years before we’ll be able to see whether the changes improve standards, but I really hope they do!