Curriculum killed off the dinosaurs

Helen Ward

IT wasn't climate change, meteors or mammals that finally finished off the dinosaurs - but the demands of the national curriculum.

Bedgrove county infants school, Aylesbury, had booked Australian education company Destination Education to do shows on ocean life and physics, but was devastated to find that its dinosaur-themed day was not available in Britain.

The company chooses one show to tour schools each year. This year it is Forces and Motion. It says its decision has to be based on what schools want - and increasingly schools want shows which specifically fit the national curriculum.

Ms Peri Forrester, presenter and programme developer with Destination Education, said: "Dinosaurs at Large is a very popular programme in Australia and New Zealand. We decided not to bring it to England because schools wouldn't book it."

Mrs Barbara Capstick, headteacher of Bedgrove school, said: "We musn't give a restrictive curriculum to our children. They need a wide, exciting curriculum."

Dinosaurs have been in danger ever since Kenneth Baker, former education secretary, introduced the national curriculum. He said it was necessary to stop primary pupils studying the dinosaurs three times.

Meanwhile, research from Australia has found children's favourite museums are ones that include dinosaurs. Dr David Anderson, of the Queensland University of Technology, has studied 99 children visiting museums, art galleries and zoos over three years.

He concluded that while children think interactive museums are fun, hands-on exhibits alone are not enough to have a lasting impact.

The most memorable museums were those which echoed children's own experiences: "If the exhibits have no connection with children's lives, their recollection a few months later is very nebulous."

Destination Education can be contacted on 0800 3286645.The Playing to Learn conference, run by the Kids Clubs Network and Hands On! Europe, is now on at the Stratford Circus, Stratford, London.

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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