New curriculum will narrow pupils’ horizons

A leading expert in primary education has described the new curriculum as ‘educationally inappropriate’ for the 21st century.

Professor Robin Alexander, who headed the landmark Cambridge Primary Review of the state of primary education in England, has said that children will risk missing out on the arts, humanities and sport because of the new curriculum’s ‘neo-Victorian’ emphasis on the three Rs, The Independent reports.

Professor Alexander claimed that it will narrow pupils’ horizons by failing to give them the ‘knowledge, skills and experience’ needed in all subjects. He also attacked the Coalition’s drive to make young children ‘secondary ready’, insisting that primary education is important in its own right and not just a stepping stone towards secondary school: “Of course children leaving primary school should be ready for what follows but education also resides in the quality of the here and now. Anyway, what follows year six is life, not just year seven,” he said.

He also criticised the new curriculum for favouring core subjects of English and maths at the expense of arts and humanities: “Such stratification is both educationally inappropriate and pedagogically counter-productive,” he said.

The DfE commented: “It is utterly unacceptable that so many children leave primary school without a firm grounding in the basics of English, maths and science. That is why our rigorous new primary curriculum focuses on these vital subjects. Of course we expect primaries to teach beyond just English, maths and science.”

Do you agree with Professor Alexander’s comments? Share your views with the Eteach community!

5 thoughts on “New curriculum will narrow pupils’ horizons

  1. Completely agree with Professor Alexander’s comments. Primary children learn by making links between all subjects and through seeing learning as part of their real life experience. Separating subjects into discrete compartments does not support integrated learning.

  2. There is no reason why a curriculum that aims to develop knowledge, skills and application of English cannot incorporate all aspects of literature. In the 3R-days of the1950s to 1970s, great teachers contextualised language and literacy in great literature, and made the connections across the Humanities. Mathematics and Science and their technological applications were also part of a curriculum that engaged students in more than literacy and numeracy, but gave greater purpose for learning how to apply those literacy and numeracy skills.

    The real worry for classroom teachers these days is the overwhelming emphasis upon paperwork and assessment for accountability’s sake. Another concern to classroom teachers are the competing ideological interests of academics and governments, mediated through multiple layers of bureaucracy.

    Rather than argue about points of view, set benchmarks for students to attain, and give classroom teachers more in-class support to become more effective in enlivening learning in all of our schools.

  3. Isn’t it about time teacher unions took action on what really matters in our society. Rather than pay and pensions which, speaking as someone in the teaching profession, is important but focus on our core purpose as the fighting ground.
    Give is raping our school system turning it into 19th century factories of limited skills and payment by results and he is getting away with it. If we, the teaching profession, were seen to stand up for educating the whole child, insisting on the importance of the arts, physical education and creating a society of tolerance we would see our professional worth increase, parents would be supportive and the likes of Give would be driven out of influence.

    We laughed at the 19th Century payment by results and rote learning in my sociology lf education lectures in the 80’s. In 2013, 30 years on look where we are!

  4. It is utterly unacceptable that so many children leave primary school without a firm grounding in the basics of the arts and humanities

  5. Completely agree with Prof Alexander As a school music teacher mainly Sec but some primary music can remain with pupils all their lives it should never be a second rate subject Have spent years combatting this philistine attitude and now it seems another generation of teachers will face the same problem let us hope the music work shouts loudly!

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