Expert adviser to Education Secretary Michael Gove claims primary school curriculum plans are 'fatally flawed'


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Indy Politics

An expert adviser to Education Secretary Michael Gove has claimed his plans for an overhaul of the primary school curriculum are “fatally flawed”.

Professor Andrew Pollard, a member of the expert panel set up by Mr Gove, says the plans are “too narrowly prescriptive for the real world of the classroom”.

Under Mr Gove's proposals, the Government will outline which words children should be able to spell by the end of each year of their primary schooling.  Its consultation document lists 236 they should be able to spell by the age of 11 - including accommodate, embarrass and vocabulary.

In addition, children will be expected to be able to recite their times tables up to 12 x 12 by the age of nine and recite poetry by heart at the age of five.

Professor Pollard, in his blog at London University's Institute of Education, said the proposals failed to recognise the range of ablities found in schools - particularly the needs of the less able pupils.

He said they would have a profoundly “constraining” effect on teaching in the classroom, adding: “The approach is fatally flawed without parallel consideration of the needs of the learners.”

However, Tim Oates, the chairman of the expert panel, rejected Professor Pollard's criticism, saying what was proposed was “not some rigid straitjacket”.

Stephen Twigg, Labour's education spokesman, said Professor Pollard's views must be an embarrassment to Mr Gove, adding that the Education Secretary should have adopted “an evidence based approach to his review of the curriculum”.

The plans, published on Monday, also call for the teaching of a foreign language to be compulsory for all children from the age of seven.  The proposals, which are now out for consultation, are designed to come into force in September 2014.

Teachers' leaders have said the plans are an attempt to turn the clock back to traditional teaching styles in use in schools in the 1950's.