The end of an era …

BBC Education News announce today what might prove to be one of the greatest educational ‘turn rounds’  – the end of the ‘strategies‘ : 

The government is set to abandon one of its most significant education policies in primary schools in England. From 2011 schools will no longer have to implement national strategies in literacy and numeracy.

As an aside – do they mean ‘strategies’ or ‘frameworks’  or are these interchangeable?

And there is this wonderful sentence at the bottom of the report:

And ministers have agreed to the findings of a group of educationists and head teachers who said formal Sats tests for 10 and 11-year-olds might eventually be replaced by teacher assessments of their pupils.

For some this will be a breath of fresh air and a chance to localise their teaching to suit their setting, for others, alongside the Rose Review, this could come as a massive ‘pulling away of the carpet’.

‘Another change’, I can hear the teachers crying … but this one should free things up and allow primary teachers to focus on the learning that is relevant to their children and should allow them once again to be professionals making professional decisions.

Publishers who have developed support materials tied to the frameworks will now have the chance to rethink and to think more creatively about the materials that could be used to support teaching and learning in these areas.

Of course, there is the minor problem that before the implementation of this change in policy there will be a general election. I wait expectantly to see what the other major political parties will have to say in this ‘ping-pong’ game of education.

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2 thoughts on “The end of an era …

  1. Hi Doug, They really need to clarify this statement. If they really mean literacy and numeracy strategies then this is just spin as they are already dead and buried and replaced by the Frameworks. If, however, they mean the Frameworks too, then this is indeed big news.

  2. My view is fairly clear, but I don’t think I could sum it up in one sentence. It’s a mixture of ‘jolly good thing too’ and ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’.

    Let me explain.

    I trained post Plowden. I still believe in topics, themes, learning by doing, child-centred education, etc., etc.

    The problem was that the only subject we legally had to teach was RE – everything else was down to school and teacher choice and the skills of teachers and the content of published schemes of work.

    The National Curriculum put in place the core skills and knowledge as an entitlement and isn’t a bad thing. What *is* bad is prescriptive teaching of the content, testing, teaching to the test, and above all league tables and competition which damage schools and children.

    There is now a generation of teachers who have been trained as milkmen (harsh but true-ish). They ‘deliver’ the curriculum. As Ted Wragg once said, “I’ve delivered milk and the Christmas post. I dare say I could deliver a baby. But I’ve never delivered a curriculum” (and never will).

    But young teachers that I know consider themselves to be perfectly trained for modern education and I suspect they will be panicking at the threatened loss of prescription.

    Finally, one reason given for the change is that standards rose quickly but have not sustained that growth. I only have one response:- I’ve long believed that anything of true value in education can’t actually be measured. So what are ‘standards’? Are they the bits of the Victorian curriculum that can be measured, tested and scored? If so, they were never worth chasing in the first place despite all parties believing they are the holy grail of future elections (I’m sorry, Britain’s future prosperity).

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