English in England: Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire

Article excerpt

As the legacy of the final Education White Paper of the Labour government in England kicks in--the abolition of the National Strategies from March this year--we begin to see the outcomes of the first Education White Paper of the new government, The Importance of Teaching, published in November.

The National Strategies cease to exist on March 31st this year, leaving many LA strategy consultants and English advisers out of a job. Meanwhile, a new National Curriculum Review has been announced, which will result in a new National Curriculum to be taught from September 2013. According to the DFE, this will 'replace the current substandard curriculum with one based on the best school systems in the world.' An expert panel and advisory committee have been set up to draw up the programmes of study. Draft programmes will be available for consultation in early 2012. It is as yet unclear what the implications of the new curriculum will be for English teaching and related assessment regimes. Some commentators (e.g. John Dunford in the TES) optimistically suggest that a slimmed-down core curriculum could mean that teachers can once again become 'curriculum planners'; however, a great deal will depend on the nature of the prescriptions and associated assessment. A less optimistic view might note the rather conservative make-up of the expert panel, whose leading expert on Engish is Bercie McCabe, director of the Prince's Teaching Institute. …