Parents to help in rewriting curriculum

PARENTS are to be given a formal role in the reshaping of the national curriculum.

Sir Ron Dearing, chairman of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, has promised to consider setting up a parents' committee to help in the slimming-down exercise announced on Wednesday.

Alternatively, he may offer parents' representatives seats on the committee which will oversee each of the new curriculums for 'key stages', for pupils aged 5-7, 7-11, 11-14 and 14-16. The working groups, which will include 120 teachers and head teachers, will begin meeting next week to cut down the statutory content of each of the 10 national curriculum subjects.

The plan to rewrite the curriculum came out of a full-scale review ordered in April by John Patten, Secretary of State for Education, and headed by Sir Ron. Under the new system, testing will be cut by half.

Sir Ron will meet Margaret Morrissey, spokeswoman for the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, on Monday to discuss representation for the group. He agreed to act in response to questions from Mrs Morrissey after he spoke at the North of England edcuation conference in Chester yesterday.

Mrs Morrissey told the conference that she had been assured by Baroness Blatch, Minister of State for Education, that many of the 'good and the great' who had been selected to the review committees were parents. That was not good enough, she said. They might be parents but they were not representatives with a mandate to speak for other parents.

'Ideally we would like our own committee, possibly a joint parents and governors committee, because that would give us some real status.' She added later: 'The Government cannot ask parents to be highly responsible and very involved in the running of their schools and then cut us out of the discussion on a major issue like this.'

Sir Ron would only say yesterday that schools should consult parents when drawing up plans on how to use free time allotted to them under the review. However, he was understood to be consulting his officials last night on how best to give parents fuller representation.

He told Mrs Morrissey after the conference that he would consider her parents' committee idea.

Last night Sir Ron appealed to teachers to test 7- to 14-year-olds in mathematics, English and science this year. Their boycott of testing had prompted his curriculum review.

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Donald Macintyre, page 17

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