Letter: New national curriculum

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The Independent Online
Sir: The new slimline national curriculum is now with us, but is it a recipe for peace and harmony in our schools? Sadly, it doesn't look like it. The Government appears quite unable to place any trust in the teaching profession.

The opportunity that Sir Ron Dearing (chairman of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority) gave us to establish a new national consensus about what really matters in education looks like being squandered because ministers can't resist the temptation to involve themselves in the small print.

Yet more battles seem inevitable. The education department is set to fight the National Union of Teachers over testing, headteachers over collective worship, English teachers over the 'literary canon', minority faiths over religious education, local authorities over grant-maintained status, the health department over sex education and anyone with any sense at all over team games. On top of all this, the Schools Curriculum and Assessment Authority is proposing a restructuring of the curriculum, the immediate effect of which will be to place a huge additional load on teachers as they struggle to rewrite policies, schemes of work, planning documents and record- keeping systems.

If the new curriculum is to stand a chance, those given the task of implementing it will need to feel a sense of ownership and commitment to the change. This will not come about if ministers continue to prefer the advice of the politically motivated to that of professionals. Teachers are likely to find themselves, yet again, labouring to implement far-reaching changes under a hail of insults against a background of constant bickering and fighting.

We cannot afford a continuation of the chaos of the past few years. In the interests of the children, politicians should now stop interfering and let those charged with devising and implementing the new curriculum get on with the job.

Yours sincerely,

JOHN HARRIES

Headteacher

Hillbrook Primary School

London, SW17

9 May

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