Michael Gove has failed to 'engage and excite' teachers over national curriculum plans, headteachers warn

 

Education Secretary Michael Gove has failed to “engage and excite” teachers over his plans for a new national curriculum, headteachers warned today.

They were responding to a letter signed by 100 academics in today’s Independent warning that the proposals would cause lasting damage to education standards by insisting children learn “endless lists of spelling, facts and rules” thus sacrificing understanding for rote learning.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the professional expertise of school leaders was “frequently overlooked” - particularly on the challenges of implementing such massive changes.

“Government risks sacrificing the engagement of the teaching profession in order to score cheap political points,” he added.  “Yet that engagement is the only thing that can make a new curriculum work.

“When the classroom door is shut, it is what a teacher believes and values that gets taught not what’s written in a dry document on the department’s website.”

Mr Hobby acknowledged there was a need for change, saying “there is much that we could have agreed on: there are arguments that could have inspired the profession to new and greater heights”.  “This has not yet happened,” he added.  “What a high price to pay for a few sound-bites.

“We urge the Government to raise the game on communicating where the national curriculum fits into the broader work of a school, to listen to specific concerns on subjects like history and computing and to take implementation seriously.”

Mr Gove also faced fresh concern over his proposals today with wildlife experts warning they could lead to children failing to be taught about the need to protect the natural environment.

The wildlife Trust said current proposals had “quietly” dropped any reference to English pupils being required to be taught to “care for the environment” or about “ways in which living things and the environment need protection”.

Simon King, president of the Wildlife Trusts, pressed Mr Gove to reinstate teaching about the natural environment into the curriculum.

“I can hardly believe that anyone would want to make changes to the curriculum that could lead to large-scale human suffering and damage the rest of life on earth,” he said.  “Yet Michael Gove proposes to stop teaching children to care for the environment.”

Ministers have made it plain their aim in the new draft document is to slim down the demands made on teachers - leaving them freer to decide for themselves what they should be teaching

Under the Government’s proposals, which are currently out for consultation, children should be taught standard English from the moment they arrive at school and more weight is given to grammar, spelling and punctuation.  In maths, they should learn their 12 times tables by the age of nine while in history the document says pupils should know “how the British people shaped this nation and how Britain influenced the world”.

The academics, led by Professor Terry Wrigley of Leeds Metropolitan University, said the proposals would lead to a “dumbing down” of teaching and learning.

The Department for Education said the distinction made by the academics between knowledge and skills was a “false dichotomy”.

“We are reforming the examination system to test deeper cognitive skills such as mathematical problem-solving and extended writing, which are neglected now, but these skills ... depend on solid foundations.”

However, Stephen Twigg, Labour’s education spokesman, said: “yet again Michael Gove’s back-of-an-envelope plans have been criticised by experts.

“We need to ensure young people have the knowledge and skills for the modern world of work.  Going back to an outdated, narrow curriculum will damage our future economic prospects.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
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

Recruitment Genius: MIS Officer - Further Education Sector

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Operating throughout London and...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: Project Manager

£35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K - £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been we...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect