A way forward

Taken together, the articles in the September 5 edition of The TES by David Blunkett, the Education and Employment Secretary ("Play your part in a momentous year") and Mary James ("Aims should come first, methods second" ) give us a recipe for more than a few tentative steps forward.

Labour's review offers progress but it's time to challenge the assumption that progress begins and ends with numeracy and literacy.

Basic skills are important but they are just parts of the picture, tools that we want our future citizens to possess, not the be-all and end-all of their learning. What we lack at the moment is an agreed national central purpose which bonds the pieces together.

We all know what problems face the world, we need to empower future citizens to solve them.

Can we start discussing what lies at the heart of the curriculum, to provide a valid and meaningful context for the rather piecemeal version we have now?

Children can be shown how the jigsaw fits together as they are given the pieces.

Let's start discussing education for responsible world citizenship; "environment, international understanding, community studies, and the study of the technological and natural worlds" as Mary James reports from Japan, but also learning about justice, inequality, and sustainability.

In Northern Ireland, the curriculum starts with "education for mutual understanding", for very good reasons.

There are equally good reasons here for a curriculum that prepares tomorrow's citizens to work for the world we would like for them.

RICHARD GIFFORD

83 St Mary's Road Faversham Kent

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