Talking point

4th July 2003 at 01:00
Miranda Perring, head of history, County upper school, Bury St Edmunds:

"I think complaints that the curriculum is too patchy are exaggerated. I would not want there to be a more prescriptive curriculum. It is fine the way it is. I would like to look at GCSE again, however. I wouldn't want history to be compulsory to 16. We should not try to protect the subject.

The summer school was an opportunity for reflection, a chance to hear eminent writers. I've enjoyed it but it's been hard work."

Martin Roberts, former head of the Cherwell school, Oxford:

"The quality of thinking involved in moving from key stage 3 to GCSE is in some ways dumbing down. There must be a serious review not just of the assessment but of the significant topics at KS4 and 5."

Stephen Miles, head of English at Haygrove school in Bridgwater, Somerset:

"The way English is tested has been the greatest detriment to our teaching.

Teachers want to do both traditional and good contemporary authors. But the way they have to teach them undermines the value."

Dr William Poole, English fellow, Downing College, Cambridge:

"Humanities scholars are no longer held in political respect. We see the rise of compartmentalised, continually assessed curricula in which prodigious powers of the short-term memory are encouraged but with serious damage to the notion that knowledge is not just to pass an exam but has to outlast the holidays."

Paul Coleman, head of English at County upper school, Bury St Edmunds: "The summer school gives teachers a chance to talk about the subject without being constrained by the national curriculum. It's a chance to ask what our priorities are. I'd like to ensure that English literature isn't sidelined.

I have no problem with non-fiction and the study of language. But to see literature as a totally separate subject is a bit distressing. Most of all I'd like to see the abolition of KS3 Sats, which are a professional insult."

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