"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Brits Offer Window on National Curriculum Problems

As the growth model/national curriculum wing of the ed industry edits pitches for the next Administration, it may be worth considering Britain's experience with a national curriuclum in a realm much smaller and much less heterogenous. A clip from a really fine piece in the Guardian:
The national curriculum is 20 years old. Do we still need it? A new inquiry plans to investigate. Janet Murray reports

Tuesday February 12, 2008

The national curriculum, 20 years old this year, is to come under the scrutiny of a comprehensive inquiry announced last week by the commons select committee on children, schools and family. There have been several reviews on specific issues, most notably the Nuffield review of 14-19 education in 2003, and, more recently, the key stage 3 and primary reviews, but none took a broad overview.

This inquiry will ask the big questions. It will consider whether there should be a national curriculum at all, how it might be improved, and how well it fits in with other policies and strategies. Certain issues have been highlighted for discussion, such as the impact of testing and assessment regimes and the implications of personalised learning.

News of the inquiry has largely been welcomed by educationists but, with a new secondary curriculum due to come into force in autumn, some people question its timing.

The problem, says Mick Brookes, the general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT), has been a one-size-fits-all approach that has hampered creativity in the classroom. Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), adds: "There is much of merit in the national curriculum, but the major problem faced by teachers is that it is inflexible and overcrowded."

And with teachers under increasing pressure to "teach to the test", children are missing out on vital parts of their education, such as art, music and outdoor education, says John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers (NUT). "At the moment, testing seems to be the only way of gathering evidence of children's progress." . . . .

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