Letters Extra: ill-thought-out garbage

It was with deep feelings of anger and frustration that I read the article concerning moves to integrate geography and history and make them more locally relevant.

I remember being a member of the working parties in the 1970's which spent many hours over many evening meetings constructing Environmental Studies curriculum guidelines relevant to Warwickshire. What they produced was a brilliant document relevant to the county's children. I am sure this was echoed throughout the country. These guidelines celebrated the unique geography history and ecology of each Local Authority. For example, there was an emphasis locally on Tudor and Stuart history (Warwick and Stratford are in Warwickshire for those brought up on NC only). We also incidentally started from the known and understood, and headed outwards into the unknown. Thus the youngest children became familiar with their parents and grandparents' history and began to explore their local geography and ecology. Now was that logical or what?

Then along comes National Curriculum. No regard was taken of the inextricable links between the history, geography, flora and fauna of a region. How on Earth are children supposed to understand the geography of anywhere in the World without understanding it's history and biological background? How on Earth are children supposed to grasp the story of Benin when they have little concept of time, and don't know where Bishop's Itchington is (look it up on a road map). Even more disturbing at the time the committees were creating these Nationaal Curriculum documents, was the allegation that they were told not to contact each other. I am very prepared to accept that this was more than urban myth, because the results of their deliberations indicated just that.

And now here we are, back where we started from. The committees were told they were wrong. Those involved in our classrooms knew they were wrong. But we have had to teach this flawed curriculum just because a self-appointed group thought they knew best.

It makes me angry that so much time and talent has been wasted in the ensuing years, and as usual the children have been the losers, and staff who understand how education works and how curricula interact have had to work within a system they knew was totally wrong. It's a shame that most of us from that era are on the slippery slope near the end of our careers, because I am sure that the next load of ill-thought-out garbage would have been greeted with a familiar hand signal this time.

Nigel Chapman, Deputy Head, Harbury Primary School, Warksnbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

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