Subjects? Yes, but give schools freedom

25th July 2008 at 01:00

Martin Roberts (Letters, July 18) thinks I want to get rid of school subjects. Like much of the right wing press recently and, surprisingly, your newspaper (TES, July 11), he has got me wrong. Believe it or not, I do think schools should have to teach science, history etc. My objection is not to subjects, but to a certain kind of curriculum planning. This has its origin in a list of subjects. The curricula of 1904 and 1988 are examples.

Governments should start their planning farther back, with a detailed and defensible set of educational aims. We need to leave schools free to pursue these, whether by subjects, projects, themes or other vehicles. At national level we also need a mechanism to protect aims from ministerial meddling.

All of us, not least parents and children, have the right to know what schools are ultimately there for.

One day soon, I hope, we shall find out.

John White, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy of Education, Institute of Education, University of London.

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