Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Stability at Last If Ministers Can Shake on New Curriculum: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Stability at Last If Ministers Can Shake on New Curriculum: News

Article excerpt

Gove and his Labour shadow will meet to seek consensus on reform.

The long-awaited new national curriculum could be the last for a very long time if attempts to build political consensus around the reform are successful.

TES has learned that education secretary Michael Gove is to meet his Labour shadow, Stephen Twigg, who wants to try to thrash out a common approach. Mr Twigg believes any agreement will be in teachers' interests.

When the coalition took power in 2010, it immediately abandoned a new primary national curriculum inspired by the Rose Review. Schools had spent months preparing for the changes, which were to be introduced last September.

"One of the things teachers always say to me is they hate the chopping and changing when there are changes of government," Mr Twigg said. "So if we can forge as broad a cross-party consensus on the future curriculum as possible, then any changes that are brought in can bed in and schools can have a sense of confidence they will last."

The news comes as the long-delayed draft of the new national curriculum for English, maths, science and PE is published. Ministers' responses to initial recommendations made by the curriculum review expert panel are expected imminently.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of heads' union the NAHT, applauded any attempt to achieve consensus. "Although the curriculum is a political issue, I don't think we should play party politics with it," he said. "Teachers will have a lot more confidence in a new national curriculum if they know it is not going to be changed every few years."

Mr Twigg said he did "basically agree" with the view of expert panel chair Tim Oates that the curriculum should not stray into telling teachers how to teach.

But the shadow education secretary wants it to include skills as well as subject knowledge and said he had concerns about the importance the panel had given to design and technology and citizenship. Mr Oates' team of four experts has recommended that the two subjects, along with ICT, should remain statutory but be excluded from the actual national curriculum, with schools free to decide how they cover them.

"There may be some areas where it is a tougher challenge to reach agreement," Mr Twigg acknowledged. …

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