Longevity of a missing link

25th March 2005 at 00:00
Your front-page article on teaching foreign languages and Michael Shaw's report on a potential role for Chris Woodhead - to offer guidance for primary history - are curiously linked (TES, March 11).

The non-core curriculum in the primary years has been forced to fend for itself since the advent of the Blair Government while a maelstrom of curricular changes has pointed towards literacy and numeracy targets.

The emergence of a prescribed pedagogy associated with these changes has been very significant, and has been linked to a sort of faux managerialism in schools.

Now, curricular change is perennial. But what has been missing in all this change is a rich and principled curriculum. There is a clear (and missing) need to think of the child as a learner.

If there are no stated aims for primary education, then Chris Woodhead can recast primary history as he wants, and the Blair Government can endlessly bolt on what it wants. Of course, we must resist cynicism and scepticism, but the sad essence is that Downing Street thinks it knows best. The nature of principled curriculum reform is missing from both reports, and the debilitation of the primary curriculum and the "child as learner" continues.

Roy Hughes

Chair, primary committee

The Historical Association

London SE11

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