Teachers call for slimming of curriculum: Six unions put forward changes to assessment and testing

THE national curriculum should be slimmed down and many of its legal requirements replaced by non-statutory guidance, a new document drawn up by the six teacher unions says.

The nine-page document has been sent to Sir Ron Dearing, chairman of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, who is reviewing the curriculum and testing. It urges him to pare down each subject to its 'basics', which should be agreed by a special committee for each of the four age groups.

It argues that the achievements legally required by the curriculum should be 'substantially reduced, leaving far more in the realm of non-statutory guidance'. It rejects the argument that such guidance can be overlooked or ignored, on the grounds that numerous other mechanisms, including governing bodies, statutory tests, regular inspections and teacher appraisal, now ensure teachers carry out what is required.

On testing, the document fails to suggest how specific improvements could be made - presumably because the teacher unions have differing views. But they 'reassert that assessment must support, not dominate the curriculum, and must take full account of continuous teacher assessment . . .'

They also criticise the present testing arrangements for attempting to combine too many objectives - for instance, using the information obtained not only to measure attainment but also to make comparisons between teachers and between schools, and to draw conclusions about national standards.

The document demands greater teacher participation in reviewing the curriculum, and sets out a formal process for introducing revisions.

The aim of Sir Ron's review, as set out by John Patten, the Secretary of State for Education, is to 'simplify the current framework (of the curriculum and testing) so as to remove needless over-elaboration and over-prescription, while retaining clear teaching objectives which lever up national standards and underpin robust testing arrangements'.

Sir Ron is inviting comments from 1,400 schools and 200 bodies representing teachers, parents, governors and employers, on four key areas: slimming down the curriculum; revising the 10 assessment levels; simplifying the testing arrangements; and improving the central administration of the curriculum and testing to enable schools to implement them more smoothly.

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, which will announce the result of its ballot on a boycott of all tests next week, said: 'Sir Ron must not ignore the weight of professional opinion against the prescription and overload of the curriculum this submission identifies . . .'

Bryan Maybee, chairman of the Independent Schools Association Incorporated, was also critical: 'The national educational scene is in turmoil because Mr Patten's pattern for education has become too prescriptive, too overloaded with assessment and simplistic testing.'

Leading article, page 19

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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 General

Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee Teacher - Maths

£18000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organization is the larges...

Recruitment Genius: Delegate Telesales Executive - OTE £21,000 uncapped

£16000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: High quality, dedicated Delegat...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - School Playground Designer

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor