Union says learning lists of Kings and Queens does not help children think critically or independently

Tim Lezard

NUT_logoThe national curriculum is too simplistic and culturally narrow, according to delegates at the NUT’s conference in Liverpool.

NEC member Alex Kenny said the curriculum was based on pub-quiz style chunks of information, turning students into  passive consumers of information.

Speaking after the a motion condemning the national curriculum was passed, general secretary Christine Blower said: “Michael Gove’s changes to the national curriculum are desperately ill thought out. They will lead to many students becoming totally disengaged from education. Further, they will disadvantage pupils with special educational needs and English as a second language.

“Teachers are genuinely fearful that pupils will be forced to learn in a way that is inappropriate. Rote learning is the antithesis of experiential learning, learning through doing. It doesn’t promote the critical thinking and problem solving skills that are essential for good quality learning.

“The YouGov survey commissioned by the NUT showed that the vast majority of parents of primary school pupils felt there should be time for play and fun as well as reading for pleasure in the curriculum. There will be little or no time for this in the proposed new curriculum.

“The emphasis on a narrow range of academic subjects will lead to a narrowing of the subjects offered to pupils and will reduce the status of vocational subjects. Michael Gove often talks about emulating good practice elsewhere, often citing Singapore.

“Some of the examples from the curriculum in Singapore include that pupils should learn to ‘appreciate the beauty of the world’, ‘have a zest for life’, ‘be confident’, ‘think independently and critically’, ‘ask questions’ and ‘use initiative’.  A far cry from learning lists of Kings and Queens.

“We need a curriculum that makes learning the vibrant and exciting experience it should be. Such a curriculum should be mandatory in all schools. Many children will be left feeling a failure by a curriculum that will not recognise vocational subjects and contains an excessive amount of inappropriate testing.

“Michael Gove needs to listen to those who understand education and start taking advice on what will really work for all pupils. He should also listen to other stakeholders such as the CBI which has recently warned against memorisation and recall being valued over understanding and enquiry, and transmission of information over the pursuit of knowledge in its fullest sense. This proposed national curriculum will set education back generations.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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