Modern times, old standards;Letter

29th January 1999 at 00:00
IT WAS good to see David Bell's call (TES, Opinion, January 15) for a bolder vision for the revision of the curriculum in schools.

Too much education reform in recent years has been about the "how" of education. Meanwhile the world has moved on, fast, leaving us with a growing need to ask "what for" and "what".

The answer to the first question is that the demands a knowledge-based and technology-driven society will make on young people are so different from those of the past that a curriculum that fails to recognise this new world is an irrelevance.

The answer to the second is that education must, from the start, develop a vastly more sophisticated range of competences than anything currently contemplated, and that this needs to be tackled as a seamless web from early- years education through to the end of the compulsory stage, and probably beyond.

The Royal Society of Arts set out the arguments in Redefining Schooling, published last year. Our consultations on it reveal serious unease among education practitioners about the lack of attention being paid to the principles of curriculum development.

David Bell is right to question this, but it is probably too late for the current Qualifications and Curriculum Authority review to do what is necessary; a reappraisal of the curriculum from first principles is required. But that could begin very quickly, if the will were there.

Lesley James

Head of education


8 John Adams Street

London WC1

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