'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'

Education Editor

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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

WORLDbytes: Two-Day Intensive Camera training and Shoot: Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th March

expenses on shoots: WORLDbytes: Volunteering with a media based charity,for a ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 4 Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A school in Tameside is currently l...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £70 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are currently looking for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower