Gove's obsession with bygone era will fail pupils, says schools' chief

Children should be prepared for Star Trek society, Education Secretary is told

Richard Garner
Monday 12 November 2012 01:00
Michael Gove: The Education Secretary’s planned reforms of GCSEs have been criticised
Michael Gove: The Education Secretary’s planned reforms of GCSEs have been criticised

Education Secretary Michael Gove is hankering after "a bygone era where everything was considered rosy", the leader of the country's independent girls' schools says today in a damning verdict on his reform programme.

Louise Robinson, president of the Girls' School Association, argues schools should prepare pupils for the "Star Trek society" of the 2020's instead of looking back at the 1950's and 60's.

In an interview with The Independent, Mrs Robinson, headmistrees of Merchant Taylor's Girls' school in Crosby, Liverpool, added: "You can't be forcing a 1960s curriculum and exam structure on schools. These children are going to be going out into the world of the 2020s and 2030s. It is going to be very different from Michael Gove's dream of what it should be."

Her remarks show a significant rift is developing between Mr Gove and independent schools over his reforms which are based on a return to a more traditional academic model.

Mrs Robinson, who will make her plea for a more modern curriculum a key focus of her address to her annual conference later this month, is particularly critical of his planned reforms to GCSE. Under Mr Gove's blueprint, they will be replaced in the core subject areas – initially of English, maths and science – by his new English Baccalaureate certificate.

She said she feels the Government is "moving too far, too fast" on the reforms by not allowing time to pilot them in schools first.

"I don't think it is taking into account the future," she added. "I personally think we're going back to a bygone era where everything was considered rosy. I don't like the idea of the creative curriculum being forgotten about and treated as though it is second class."

Arts, drama and music are not included in the subjects for the new EBacc. Pleading for an emphasis on developing skills needed for the future, she added: "The Star Trek society is already here. We need to look at the way the world of the future is going. At present the way we run our schools is based on the 19th century."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: "We make no apologies for wanting to raise standards across the board so that young people leave school equipped with the skills they need for work or further study.

"We have been clear that GCSEs are in desperate need of a thorough overhaul. Throughout the expansion of the academies programme and the introduction of free schools we are raising the number of good school places."

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