The Titanic Curriculum – Gove’s curriculum will wreck standards of achievement


March 9, 2013 by lambethteachers

Michael Gove claims his new National Curriculum will raise standards. What is the reality?

It consists of extremely detailed lists of ‘content’ (spellings, grammar rules, arithmetic calculations, science facts, famous people in history, names of rivers in geography…) It is very weak on aims, concepts, skills; a lack of coherence, progression, and connection with the world.

The learner is missing – there is no sense of what young children are capable of understanding or being interested in. Everything is abstract – terminology, rules, abstract symbols – torn away from sensory experience or experimental and creative activity. Doesn’t Gove realise that most people learn by connecting symbols (words, formulae, etc.) with reality.

The demands have been pitched too early. There are many examples where Gove has looked at what is expected of more advanced 8 year olds in high achieving countries like Finland, and demanded the same of all 7-year-olds in England. Sometimes Year 6 pupils are expected to learn what used to be taught to 15 year olds.

This can only result in rote learning – children having to memorise what they don’t understand!

This will sidestep thinking and understanding. Children will not build the foundations for later success.

For all his cant about ‘high expectations’, and his panic about falling PISA scores, Gove’s curriculum will do the opposite. It will make children less and less able to think.

This is the Titanic curriculum – biggest ship, full speed ahead, and crash into an iceberg. The ship’s captain has ignored all professional advice, doesn’t trust teachers, has a group of secret advisers who daren’t show their faces, and will wreck the whole ship if he can get away with it – except of course private schools and academies. In other words, he is out to destroy public education in England.


Year 1 (5-6 year olds) must spell Tuesday and Wednesday correctly, and know that ph is pronounced f.

Year 3 (7-8 year olds) must know how to spell accidentally, business, eighth, possession and reign. They must distinguish between accept and except, affect and effect.

KS1 History requires them to understand “the concept of nation and of a nation’s history”, and “concepts such as civilisation, monarchy, democracy”. They should learn about “significant British individuals such as William Harvey and Christina Rossetti”.

In Year 3 (7-8 year olds) they are expected to do calculations such as 5/7 + 1/7 = 6/7

while children of the same age in Finland are dividing cakes into quarters and thirds and learning how to write the fractions.

Stop the juggernaut before it rolls over you !

The consultation finishes in early April. Send in your objections to the DfE but also send letters to newspapers, blogs,  tweet about it, let the world know.


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