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With Pisa around the corner, heads warn: new curriculum won't help England catch up with world's best

Over half of school leaders do not think that the new curriculum will help the UK catch up with the world’s best education performers, according to a survey.

Ahead of the publication of the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) league tables next week, a survey by The Key – a support service for school leaders – found that 58 per cent of respondents did not believe that the new National Curriculum will achieve the government’s aim of helping British students to “catch up with the world’s best”.

In the most recent Pisa study in 2009, the UK was ranked 28th in the world for maths, 16th for science and 25th for reading.

When the findings were published, education secretary Michael Gove said that the findings highlighted the need to emulate high-performing nations that had “made opportunity more equal, democratised access to knowledge and placed an uncompromising emphasis on higher standards, all at the same time”.

However over a fifth (21 per cent) of those who responded to The Key’s survey said that they actually expected the changes to increase the gap between the UK and the world’s best performers.

Martyn Taylor, head of The Thomas Cowley High School in Lincolnshire, said the new curriculum was a “retreat to the rote learning of the 50s and 60s” and “discards all the research done on pedagogy since then”.

Peter Weal, a member of the leadership team at Brandlehow Primary School in London, warned that the emphasis in English and maths “will end up lessening the opportunities to cover foundation subjects.”

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