Politicians should be stopped from meddling in school policy and using visits among pupils as photo shoots, the former head of the national curriculum said last night.
Mick Waters told a seminar at the House of Commons that power had to be “wrestled away from meddlers and unelected advisers and placed back in the control of wider society – employers, teachers, parents and pupils”.
The former curriculum head at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority was speaking after The Independent revealed more than 2,000 teachers had signed an online petition protesting at the Education Secretary Michael Gove’s “back to basics” plans to reform the national curriculum.
“The crux of our inertia is the influence of national politicians,” Mr Waters added. “Most national politicians confuse policy with posturing, polarising and positioning. A few are peddling half truths over international comparisons or abusing the rights of pupils with cynical hectoring.”
He argued that MPs should set up a national council of professionals to run the education system instead.
The comments follow a flurry of activity from opponents of Mr Gove’s plans for a new national curriculum. Maths experts warned that his plans for more rigour – including learning the times tables up to 12 by the age of nine – risked alienating pupils.
“It is not enough merely to prescribe all the elements that children should learn, to emphasise ‘rigour’ and to hope that as much as possible goes in,” said Mike Ellicock, chief executive of the charity National Numeracy, in a letter to Mr Gove.
The Department for Education has insisted its new curriculum “will give every child the broad and balanced education they need to fulfil their potential”. “We are giving every school more freedom and trusting teachers to use their creativity to shape the curriculum to the needs of their pupils,” it added.