Curriculum 'stuck in Victorian era'

Schools in England and Wales are still stuck in the Victorian era, according to a major study to be published this week.

A report for the education charity Edge says most modern ideas about education continue to be dominated by "19th-century concepts of merit and ability".

As a result, children less able to thrive in a traditional academic environment are still being prepared "for toil in the fields and factories", says the former Education Secretary Lord (Kenneth) Baker in a foreword to the report.

The report was compiled by Professor William Richardson – the former head of education at Exeter University who is now secretary to the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, which represents 250 of the country's leading independent schools – and Dr Sue Sing, a research fellow at Exeter University.

The document argues that schools must give more emphasis to practical subjects and problem solving if the UK is to compete in the global economy. "Nineteenth-century definitions of merit and ability were largely worked out among universities, public schools and reformed grammar schools," the document says.

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