Challenging Gove’s proposals for the primary curriculum

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October 9, 2012 by lambethteachers

Secretary of State Michael Gove is proposing an archaic and very limited curriculum, in which detailed prescription for literacy, arithmatic and science will marginalise all else. It will encourage transmission teaching and rote learning, and (contrary to Gove’s rhetoric about raising standards) will dumb down children’s learning by marginalising opportunities for enquiry, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and experiential learning.

The curriculum fails to recognise the diversity of students, including those with EAL, SEN or affected by poverty. If implemented, it will allow teachers little flexibility to respond to children’s needs, talents, interests, languages, cultures and experiences.

The targets and expectations on which pupils and schools will be judged are not age appropriate, and generally set so high that the majority of children will fail.

No attempt has been made to involve teachers or parents, and even the government’s hand-picked Panel of Experts was alienated and ignored. It is a prescriptive, top-down curriculum which, combined with England’s surveillance system (Ofsted, league tables etc) will further demoralise, incapacitate and deprofessionalise teachers.

Pupils and teachers will be overwhelmed by excessively detailed lists of spellings, grammatical analysis, arithmetic procedures and scientific facts. In English, for example, the emphasis is on phonics, spelling, punctuation and grammar, marginalising spoken language, reading for pleasure and information, more creative aspects of writing, drama and ICT.

A response to the proposed new Primary School curriculum for England was submitted jointly by the NUT, ATL, various curriculum and other organisations, several key academics and 72 children’s authors (3 August 2012).

and then say that the joint statement and the various contributing statements can be found via the Curriculum page at


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