Rose has 'failed', warns fledgling curriculum body

22nd May 2009 at 01:00
Award-winning head claims primary review falls short on creating more flexible lessons

The Rose Review of the primary curriculum has "failed" in its original aim of giving schools more flexibility in what they teach, according to a leading member of a new education lobby group.

Richard Gerver, a co-founder of the Curriculum Foundation, told The TES that the review, published earlier this month, had been "rushed through far too quickly".

"It hasn't created more freedom and flexibility," the former primary head and Teaching Award winner said. "It has overcomplicated matters. I think by the time it got to the (Department for Children, Schools and Families), the (Department) had politicised the review and made sure there was nothing contentious in there. They were terrified of what some of the more conservative elements of the media would have said if it had pushed forward more of a vision of what thematic learning could look like."

Mick Waters, chairman of the new foundation, has so far taken a more cautious approach. If the former director of curriculum at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has reservations about the Rose review, he has kept them quiet.

Both men hope the new body will help to give teachers the confidence to adapt the curriculum to suit their pupils, in line with the original intentions of the review.

A spokesman for the department said the review took 16 months and "was not rushed, it was concluded on time".

"Sir Jim Rose's report sets out a curriculum that is more manageable, more coherent and less crowded, so teachers can concentrate on what is essential to children's learning and development between the ages of five and 11," he said.

Under a Conservative government, the recommendations of the review are likely to be ditched because of concerns that it has moved too far towards thematic teaching.

Mr Gerver said: "I would urge (the Conservatives) to stop developing education policy based on what they perceive middle England wants. They should have the courage to develop policy based on what they think children need."

He wants the foundation to act like a subject association, but one that promotes the curriculum as a whole. It aims to help schools share "cutting-edge thinking" in this country and across the world.

Lord David Puttnam, the film producer, is chairing the foundation and will speak to 400 delegates at its inaugural conference in Birmingham on July 8. The body's advisory board includes educationists Sir Ken Robinson and Sir Tim Brighouse, and Jude Kelly, artistic director of the South Bank Centre.

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