Trendy Education Methods Were Plain Crackers, Says Ofsted Chief

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Byline: LAURA CLARK

THE chief inspector of schools last night warned that trendy teaching methods must not be allowed to return to classrooms.

David Bell said the experimental methods which first took hold in schools in the Sixties and Seventies were often 'eccentric' and sometimes 'plain crackers'.

Millions of pupils were left without basic literacy and numeracy after decades of progressive teaching theories which held that ' children would learn if you left them to it'.

Critics have claimed that trendy methods are once again taking root in schools where teachers are increasingly told to value the imparting of 'skills' over knowledge.

Mr Bell, a former primary school teacher, said the national curriculum had benefited millions of pupils since its introduction in 1988.

'I saw too much that went wrong in the 1960s and 1970s to backtrack on my belief that a broad curriculum must in general terms be defined nationally,' he said.

'I saw too many incoherent or non-existent curriculums, too many eccentric and unevaluated teaching methods and too much of the totally soft-centred belief that children would learn if you left them to it.

'In particular, the notion that children learn to read by osmosis - and I suppose I exaggerate to make the point - was plain crackers.' Progressive dogmas prevailed in many schools during the Sixties and Seventies following the publication of the landmark Plowden report, which lauded 'creativity' over formal teaching. …