What the teachers say

23rd January 1998 at 00:00
Nicholas Pyke reports on the effects of the Government's decision to reform the primary curriculum

John Kenward Headteacher at the Bourne County primary school in Eastbourne, East Sussex

"Because we're going to have to focus more on literacy and numeracy, we're going to have to increase the amount of time we spend on specific skills. This will affect other curriculum subjects; we'll be paring down some arts courses, unfortunately. But we'll do our best to maintain a balance. We've also got to increase the time spent on IT. It's becoming a core subject by itself.

"If we're going to reach the targets that the Government has set, there's only one way of doing it in a school like ours, which is in the third poorest ward in the county. From a low base of achievement we've been able to achieve average national standards. But we still have to raise our levels considerably to achieve a target of 70 or 75 per cent (of pupils) reaching the standard. The announcement is encouraging. It will allow schools to do their best with the resources they have."

Sue Sayles Head of Riccall county primary school near York

"We still want to maintain a broad- and-balanced curriculum so there's no way we would want to cut any subject. We won't be spending more time on maths or English. We already spend a lot of time on the basic skills. What we will be looking at is how we can best organise the whole curriculum, which has been very overloaded. This is a chance to really look very carefully at what's relevant to our pupils and what's cohesive.

"We will be able to choose things relevant to the locality, things the children find useful. So, for example, because we live near the river Ouse things to do with the Vikings are always of great interest. There's a Viking burial ground in the village. Really there's not going to be an awful lot of change. We've become quite adept at fine tuning."

David Pratt Head of Little Common primary school, East Sussex

"There has been a serious underestimate of what it means in terms of workload for us. We have just had to cope with all the changes that Dearing brought in. Now we have got to go back again - when we have been promised a five-year moratorium. I shall have to pick myself up and completely revisit our curriculum framework. I feel we're being thrown into a vortex of change once again. The idea that this is dead simple is naive. I personally regret the breaking of the moratorium promise. I'm worried that we're now at the whim of whoever is Secretary of State at any one time.

"We have been told the change is optional, but the climate at the moment doesn't make it seem very optional. I'm being bombarded with people asking me to set targets. Last year 78 per cent of our 11-year-olds reached level 4. But East Sussex has been set a target of 85 per cent. I don't know where the research evidence is to justify that."

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