NUT: If Gove forces the learning of poetry by heart it will make his calls for freedom and choice ring hallow

Commenting on the National Curriculum Review for Primary Schools in England, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union for Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“Much of what is in the proposals can already be seen in schools. Children learn poems, do mental arithmetic and learn grammar. By making this prescriptive along with a whole raft of other requirements, Michael Gove’s cries for ‘freedom’ and ‘choice’ in the way teachers teach are ringing increasingly hollow.

“Languages have been in and out of the primary curriculum over the past ten years. As a consequence there is a significant shortage of qualified teachers in this area. For languages to be taught successfully in primary schools we need to see proper investment in training and support both in schools and initial teacher training.

“Whilst the abandonment of awarding of ‘levels’ may be positive, we await the detail of what ‘grading’ will look like. The creation of league tables on the basis of ‘grades’ poses as many problems of teaching to the test as those based on ‘levels’.

“The proposed ‘ready to progress’ measure raises serious concerns. Children and young people do not develop at the same time and this strategy takes no account of either summer born children or those with special educational needs.

“These proposals will create a task orientated curriculum. It will simply stultify the learning process and, due to its inherent inflexibility, make it impossible for many children to achieve in the time and space they need.

“Michael Gove says that he will work closely with the teaching profession to access how the new curriculum will be ‘enhanced and assessed’. It is a missed opportunity not to have had the voice of the classroom teacher on the Expert Panel.”

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