Primary pupils 'need specialist teachers'

Curriculum reform would raise standards, says report
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The Independent Online

Primary school pupils should have specialist teachers for subjects such as sport and music instead of having just one class teacher, a major review of primary schooling will recommend next month.

Sir Jim Rose, the former head of inspections at Ofsted, the education standards watchdog, believes the idea could be key to raising standards, particularly among older primary school pupils. Sir Jim was appointed by the Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, to lead a review of the curriculum. His report will be published in November.

He told MPs on the Commons Select Committee for Children, Schools and Families that he had reached the conclusion after seeing the impact primary school music teachers and PE teachers had on their subjects. "That's something confirmed time and time again by Ofsted – more specialist teachers," he added.

His idea echoes comments made by the former general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, David Hart, in an earlier speech on how the primary school curriculum should be reformed.

Sir Jim is also making it clear he believes Mr Balls should set up a separate inquiry to look at the national curriculum tests for 11-year-olds. The Government last week abolished tests for 14-year-olds but said those for11-year-olds were "here to stay".

Mr Balls' decision to retain them has provoked an outcry from teachers' leaders, with Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, warning in today's Education supplement of The Independent that he has provoked a "head-on collision" with primary school heads.

Primary heads argue that the tests – and accompanying league tables – have led to too much exam-focused teaching in primary schools as a result of a determination to do well in league tables.

As a result, pupils have become bored with the curriculum. Secondary heads also argue that because of the type of coaching, they do not give a true picture of a child's ability – and most have opted to retest the pupils on their entry to the secondary sector.

Sir Jim argued to the select committee that it might be time to revisit the idea of testing a sample of pupils – rather than a full-blown national test for all pupils – to check on standards, as happened before the introduction of the national curriculum.

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