'Exams, exams, exams': Children's author Sally Gardner says new national curriculum would stifle classroom creativity
'I'd like to see a divorce in the case of politics versus state education'
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Award-winning children's author Sally Gardner today savaged the Government's proposed new national curriculum for stifling creativity in the classroom by leaving pupils with a diet of "exams, exams, exams, exams".
Ms Gardner, who was awarded the prestigious CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) Carnegie Medial for children's authors at a ceremony at the National History Museum at lunchtime today, said it was time for education and politics to divorce from each other.
"I come from a long line of lawyers, judges and hopeless marriages so consider myself an expert in the subject of divorce," she said in her acceptance speech. "Which is why I'd like to see a divorce in the case of politics versus state education.
"Over recent years this relationship has deteriorated beyond repair, forced schools and teachers to accommodate the whims and egos of ministers with virtually no knowledge of the departments they take over, bringing in policies that damage the future of a whole generation of children.
"What a hypocritical partner politics has turned out to be - it says it wants more children reading yet it forces libraries to close: says it wants more great diversity yet insists on uniform exams for all."
Ms Gardner, who herself is dyslexic and was written off as "unteachable" whilst at school in an age when the condition was not recognised, said: "Wouldn't it be better if we could let teachers do what they do best - teach. Not judge each child on a series of standardised tests. Let schools embrace, not exclude, those like me with a different way of thinking.
"Stop praising literacy with one hand and closing libraries with the other."
She said she had been brought up on a diet of Janet and John books as a child - "my nightmare, a reading scheme that I couldn't get out of, that I was forced to stay on until the age of 11, getting no further than Janet and John had a ball'".
Now, though, she added, John was an adviser to Education Secretary Michael Gove while Janet worked for education standards watchdog Ofsted "enjoying the terror her department can bring to schools and teachers alike".
"Both Janet and John agree with Mr Gove that learning by rote (or by rope as I call it - the gallows for the inquiring mind), is the only answer. Cut down on creativity, give the little blighters exams, exams, exams, exams until they all become good sheep."
She concluded: "Lastly, I would like to say: you can spell every word in the dictionary and know every grammar rule in the world but this does not make you a writer and it does not give you an imagination."
Sally Gardner won the coveted award for her novel, Maggot Moon, featuring an unlikely hero, Standish, who - like his creator is dyslexic and stands up to a sinister dictatorship while friends and family "disappear".
Yesterday she described her dyslexia as a "gift, adding: "Without books, I would not be a writer and without the zeal of librarians I would not have won this award.
"I believe teachers and librarians should be free to instil a life-long love of learning, without being policed by an outdated curriculum.
"I firmly believe Gove's new curriculum excludes rather than embraces those like me, and millions of others, with a different way of seeing and thinking."
Past winners of the medal include Arthur Ransome, C.S.Lewis, Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman, Noel Streatfield and Penelope Lively.
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: Details emerge of two young Iranians using stolen passports in search for a better life
Three-quarters of Britons are saying it wrong - the top ten most common mispronunciations
Oscar Pistorius trial: Forensic analyst says athlete 'was not wearing prosthetic legs' when he smashed locked toilet door with a bat
Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: ‘Alright, good night’ – last words from cockpit revealed amid growing confusion
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
- 1 Hells of residence: Inside Macedonia's horrifying student accommodation - where the walls are green and the food is black
- 2 First Kiss video: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
- 3 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 4 Rampaging elephant smashes up house but then 'saves crying baby trapped under debris'
- 5 Ian Wright breaks down in ITV documentary charting his rise to Arsenal and England striker
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad are currentl...
£59287 - £64677 per annum: Randstad Education Group: DIRECTOR OF STEM Leadersh...
£41497 - £45000 per annum + TLR £12,516: Randstad Education Group: We are seek...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: We are now recruiting...