Education committee blames national curriculum for making teaching “a franchise operation”

May 1, 2009 at 12:17 pm Leave a comment

The Children, Schools and Families Committee has published a report that is highly critical of the National Curriculum.

“We heard how the level of central prescription and direction through the National Curriculum and National Strategies has de-skilled teachers,” the committee reported.

“At times schooling has appeared more of a franchise operation, dependent on a recipe handed-down by Government rather than the exercise of professional expertise by teachers.

“The education system needs confident and well-qualified teachers capable of shaping the best possible education for their pupils.

“This has implications for the content of teacher training, but also for the role of the Department and its agencies.

“We want to see the centre to take on a different role to the one it currently has—with much greater emphasis on intelligence gathering and research and development, and less on monitoring and compliance.

“We take the view that the main purpose of a national curriculum is to set out clearly and simply a minimum entitlement for every child.

“In its current form the National Curriculum essentially accounts for all the available teaching time. We would like to see this changed and a cap placed on the proportion of the curriculum that is prescribed centrally.

“We believe that such a slimmed-down National Curriculum should be designed much more than is presently the case from the learner’s perspective, setting out the learning that they have a right to access to enable them to operate as effective citizens.

“Parents should be provided with a copy of the National Curriculum so that they can take on a greater role in overseeing the curriculum that their child experiences.”

The committee also recommended that the National Strategies should be discontinued in their current form and the all schools should have the freedoms that Academies enjoy in relation to the National Curriculum – being only required to follow the curriculum for the core subjects of English, maths, science and ICT.

The independence of the QCDA (Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency) should also be guaranteed by a requirement to report to Parliament through the Select Committee.

The Chairman of the Committee, Barry Sheerman MP, said:

“Simplicity is the main message from our inquiry into the National Curriculum. We need a simpler, more coherent curriculum.

“Poor transitions from one key stage to the next create disruptions which damage the educational experience of pupils. It is vital that this is tackled.

“We need to trust schools and teachers more and empower teachers to do what they do best.

“There is a regrettable tendency for governments to make continual changes to the structure and framework of the curriculum.

“Ministerial meddling must stop and we require the Government to establish the QCDA with full independence, reporting to Parliament through the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee.”

Click here to read the full National Curriculum report.


Entry filed under: Committees, Commons. Tags: , , , , , .

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