Business leaders have thrown their weight behind critics of Education Secretary Michael Gove’s planned new curriculum by warning the “sheer scale of prescription” will turn pupils off science lessons.
In its response to the plans, the CBI warned that they would give pupils little time to do practical experiments - a move which is likely to thwart attempts to persuade pupils to develop a serious interest in the subject - at a time when the future of the economy hinges on inspiring pupils to take up science.
The CBI also raised concerns about new proposals for design and technology, saying the “lack academic or technical rigour” and are “out of step with the needs of a modern economy”.
Their conclusions, published as consultation over the new proposals ended, follow a week in which organisations representing maths experts and supporters of geography have also voiced opposition to the plans.
In addition, an online petition for teachers protesting at the fact-driven curriculum and Mr Gove’s dismissiveness of any opposition to his plans has now secured more than 3,000 signatures. Details of the petition were first revealed by The Independent.
“It’s a huge embarrassment to Michael Gove that business leaders are sounding the alarm about his out-of-date curriculum,” said Labour’s schools spokesman Kevin Brennan. “He needs to listen to these warnings that his plans will damage our economic future.”
In its submission to the consultation, the CBI says it shares the Government’s view that mastering English and maths is central to education - but is worried that more needs to be done in science and design and technology “inspire and excite young people”.
It warns: “Encouraging young people to develop a serious interest in science depends above all on their having plenty of opportunity to get hands-on experience of conducting practical experiments
“The scale of detailed prescription on programme content for science in particular runs the risk of hindering creative delivery.”
Neil Carberry, the CBI’s director of employment and skills, added: We’re concerned that the sheer scale of prescription risks hindering teachers’ creativity, flexibility and innovation in the classroom.”
The Department for Education insists that the new proposals will give teachers more freedom to develop their own teaching styles and deliver their subjects as they see fit. A spokesman said: “The draft national curriculum is challenging and ambitious and will give every child the broad and balanced education they need to fulfil their potential.”
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