We can't stomach yet another primary review, heads warn

11th June 2010 at 01:00
Dissent as Government formally bins Rose curriculum in favour of fresh approach

There is no appetite for yet another review of the primary curriculum, experts have warned following confirmation that the Rose recommendations have been scrapped.

The coalition Government said this week that the existing subject-based national curriculum will remain in force for primaries in 201112 and they will not be allowed to introduce Sir Jim Rose's alternative. Instead, the Government will now set in train plans for a new curriculum.

Heads and teachers will, however, be allowed to keep the training day allocated with the switch to the Rose curriculum.

Education Secretary Michael Gove told The TES last month that the primary curriculum could be revisited with "some of the best work from Robin Alexander, some of the best practice in primary schools, and some of the best practice internationally".

Professor Robin Alexander, director of the Cambridge Primary Review, has been in talks with Mr Gove for some time and has been invited to the Department for Education to meet officials next week.

Mick Brookes, general secretary of heads' union the NAHT, said: "The current national curriculum is too prescriptive, but I don't think another review is needed. They have all the information they need.

"It is very good to hear for the first time that the Alexander review is held in high regard. A new review would be a complete waste of public finances."

Narinder Gill, head of Hunslet Moor Primary School in Leeds, was on the advisory group for the Rose review. She agreed with Mr Brookes. "Schools can't hold fire on children's lives," she said.

"You have to go on your own principles and go with whatever changes you need to improve. That was one thing about Rose, he did say the curriculum should be continually evolving."

And Andrew Carter, head of South Farnham School in Surrey, echoed these comments. "Sir Jim's report had many strong features. It combined what was best with some more traditional views of curriculum and an understanding of the need for flexibility."

Planned changes to move from a subject-based curriculum to one structured on six areas of learning were ditched in the "wash up" process at the end of the last Parliament.

The loss also means that plans to introduce languages as a compulsory subject for key stage 2 children have been put on ice.

The Government has said that there will be changes to the national curriculum - "to ensure a relentless focus on the basics and to give teachers more flexibility than the proposed primary curriculum offered".

Nick Gibb, schools minister, said: "It is vital that we return our curriculum to its intended purpose - a minimum national entitlement organised around subject disciplines."

The Government estimates that #163;7 million will be saved by not proceeding with this and other curriculum changes.

Mr Gibb later told Parliament that Sir Jim Rose's proposal for a five-year review cycle would not be carried forward. Sir Jim Rose said such a cycle in order to prevent ad hoc changes to the curriculum. Mr Gibb added that he also intended to bring stability to schools.

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