Reform for the right reasons;Letter

9th April 1999 at 01:00
We are teachers from schools in different London boroughs. We work in different age phases in a variety of inner-city schools.

We are concerned at the changes to the primary curriculum, in particular the literacy hour and the proposed numeracy hour. We are dismayed at the removal of our autonomy and the lack of respect the Government pays to us as professionals who are able to make decisions about what is appropriate for the children we teach. Children need to learn and to develop as individuals and to do this they need a stimulating and exciting learning environment and access to a broad curriculum, not a return to educational traditionalism which has failed so many in the past.

Art and music are being marginalised because of the literacy hour and other important aspects of children's education are being pushed to the back of the agenda, such as the vital need for anti-racist education. As educators, we have the opportunity to play a very important role in bringing about change. We have the ability and the opportunity to bring anti-racist education to the forefront and to make a difference. The introduction of the national curriculum made it difficult to do this, but the imposition of the literacy hour and the forthcoming numeracy hour have made it almost impossible.

The prescriptive nature of the primary curriculum at the moment ignores the needs of all children and shows little respect for the ethnicity and multiculturalism in our schools. The literacy hour in itself pays no regard to the wealth of experiences, culture and language that children bring with them when they come into school. It focuses on the delivery of very specific skills in whole-class sessions.

The introduction of these strategies is resulting in a narrow and rigid curriculum which has been put in place to help the Government to reach the targets it has set itself. Teachers are often accused of being opposed to change but surely change should be for the right reasons, for the good of all children, not just so that certain targets can be met?

Kevin Courtney and 22 other teachers

Camden Teachers' Association

London NW1

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