A number of academics from ESRI were signatories to letter to Michael Gove published in the Independent on Wednesday 20th March so we are reposting it here.
Gove will bury pupils in facts and rules
We are writing to warn of the dangers posed by Michael Gove’s new National Curriculum which could severely erode educational standards. The proposed curriculum consists of endless lists of spellings, facts and rules. This mountain of data will not develop children’s ability to think, including problem-solving, critical understanding and creativity.
Much of it demands too much too young. This will put pressure on teachers to rely on rote learning without understanding. Inappropriate demands will lead to failure and demoralisation. The learner is largely ignored. Little account is taken of children’s potential interests and capacities, or that young children need to relate abstract ideas to their experience, lives and activity.
The new curriculum is extremely narrow. The mountains of detail for English, maths and science leave little space for other learning. Speaking and listening, drama and modern media have almost disappeared from English.
This curriculum betrays a serious distrust of teachers, in its amount of detailed instructions, and the Education Secretary has repeatedly ignored expert advice. Whatever the intention, the proposed curriculum for England will result in a “dumbing down” of teaching and learning.
We believe our concerns are widely shared. A recent CBI report argued that “we need to end the culture of micro-management”, and (citing the Cambridge Primary Review) that “memorisation and recall are being valued over understanding and inquiry”. Further, “we have a conveyor-belt education system that tolerates a long tail of low performance and fails to stretch the able”. The new curriculum will only make things worse.
Mr Gove has clearly misunderstood England’s decline in Pisa international tests. Schools in high-achieving Finland, Massachusetts and Alberta emphasise cognitive development, critical understanding and creativity, not rote learning.
We urge parents, teachers and other stakeholders to respond to the Government consultation in its few remaining weeks, and demand a fresh start.
Signed by (from ESRI/ MMU)
Prof John Schostak
Dr Peter Hick
Prof Heather Piper
Prof Tony Brown
Dr Linda Hammersley-Fletcher
Dr Gee Macrory
Dr Cathy Lewin