Revolution that began in 1960s

18th January 2008 at 00:00
In england, the 1960s heralded a time not only of academic performance but also social, emotional and physical development that spanned two decades. The 1980s saw increased centralisation aimed at increasing employability. Literacy and numeracy got priority in the 1990s.

Scotland: 1960s and 1970s. Policy makers advocated a child-centered system. In the 1980s, there was a shift in focus from a child's personal development to an interest in economic productivity.

New Zealand: Child-centred philosophies began to diminish in the 1980s and 1990s and standardisation and pupil performance in literacy, numeracy and science became an increasing priority.

Sweden: In the 1960s, the aim was for individuals to develop inner potential. Reform in the 1980s emphasised values including multiculturalism, citizenship, freedom of belief and gender equality. A new curriculum in 1994 focused on attainment targets and thinking skills.

Germany: In the 1970s, neo-Conservatives believed children needed pressure to learn and schools should be concerned with academic achievement. These values dominated into the 1980s. Child-centred ideals began to flourish in the 1990s.

The Netherlands: Policy-makers continued to emphasis holistic education in the late 1980s through to present, despite calls for a return to an emphasis on the core subjects.

Independent view

The Primary Review was launched in October 2006. It is an independent inquiry into the condition and future of primary education in England, supported by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. It is directed by Professor Robin Alexander at the University of Cambridge. The four reports published this week are:

- Aims as Policy in English Primary Education, by John White

- Aims and Values in Primary Education: England and other countries, by Maha Shuayb and Sharon O'Donnell

- Aims for Primary Education: the changing national context, by Stephen Machin and Sandra McNally

- Aims for Primary Education: changing global contexts,

- All are available at

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