Wise words could fall on deaf ears

29th March 2013 at 00:00

I would like to make a belated fuss about the revised curriculum proposals. Although I am a signatory of the recently published letter from 100 university professors that decries Michael Gove's new national curriculum, history has taught me not to anticipate a positive response from the Department for Education.

Between 1996 and 2007, I led a team from the University of Manchester, which was funded by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and what was then known as the Department for Education and Skills, to monitor the subject teaching times, timetabling and provision of subjects in the primary and secondary curriculum. Annually the team presented evidenced reports that illustrated the gradual and then sharp skewing of the taught curriculum in favour of the tested core subjects. Those reports were received, acknowledged and ignored. In 2006, frustrated by the lack of response by the DfES to its data, we authored an article published in the British Education Research Journal entitled "A curriculum without foundation", which evidenced the test-driven nature of the primary teaching and learning experience. The only response from the DfES was to stop the university monitoring the data. Can we suppose that the involvement of a critical mass of academics will make any difference to Mr Gove and his advisers this time around?

Bill Boyle, Professor of education, University of Manchester.

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