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Essential skills

Thanks to Dennis Hayes (Backchat, FE Focus, November 3) for contributing to the debate we need on the school curriculum. I hope he reads the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' forthcoming curriculum book Subject to Change. It may set his mind at rest.

The ATL believes in a broad and balanced curriculum for all, at least until age 16, but that is not what we have now. Of course the curriculum should include the important skills of each academic discipline, such as the essentials of scientific method. But there should be less content, because we need to make time for pupils to learn the skills of doing, making and communicating - including artistically - which are just as central to what it is to be human.

The state should specify the broad range of skills to be taught and then give teachers back the judgment about the detailed content young people need to play an active role in society.

It's time to call a halt to the current curriculum and assessment system, and to reach a consensus about a new one.

Martin Johnson

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