Primary ‘basics’ needs improving

Improving basic literacy and numeracy levels should be prioritised in early education, interim reports from the independent Primary Review released today say.

The ongoing research project suggests it may be worthwhile concentrating on the “basics” rather than engaging in the hybrid approach towards primary education currently seen in England.

The 2003 primary strategy emphasised “enjoyment and a child’s individual needs”, today’s research states, before noting that many consider this approach “contradictory” with traditional focus on excellence, attainment and standards.

“For as long as the basic skills of literacy and numeracy remain far from universal they carry a high premium in terms of an individual’s economic prospects,” it states.

“Wage inequality, educational inequality and social immobility are all inter-related and are all affected by education, and the rising wage returns to education seem to be a likely mechanism in generating or at least exacerbating these inequalities.”

The Primary Review warns changing attitudes to globalisation may also shape primary education.

“Understandably, the goal of national global competitiveness has given considerable impetus to the drive to raise educational standards,” it states.

“But it has also led to standards being defined largely and relatively unquestioningly in terms of what is most marketable, even though what constitute standards and quality in education ought to be a matter for debate.”

Liberal Democrat schools spokesperson David Laws said the reports highlighted the “vital importance of education in eradicating poverty”.

“Improvements in primary education would have far-reaching effects by ensuring children from disadvantaged backgrounds aren’t left behind,” he said.

“Choice must be a reality for all parents, and there must be a coherent programme for improving standards in every school.”