Primary Education – a common sense approach ??

This morning I read two feeds one that filled me with hope – a common sense approach – and the other which filled me with foreboding.

The first was from a feed on the Scholastic site and was an article by  John Coe – General Secretary of the National Association for Primary Education. The article called, ‘ The End of the Rose Review’ points out Sir Jim Rose’s reminder of our professionalism (as set out in paragraph 2.9 of his Final Report).

At every level between the ages of three and 11 we must seek to achieve greater flexibility so that children’s needs can be taken more into account. There must be more for children and less for the system.

Joe reminds us of our current professional freedoms. That schools control pedagogy and that the Strategies were never statutory. Aside from the statutory curriculum schools control teaching content and they control how the curriculum for their settings are organised. Let us not lose site of the fact that the power is in the hands of schools – the professionals-  to get the best for their young learners in a way that they know fits them.

The second was from a feed in the Guardian. Phil Beadle outlines with some dread Mr Gove’s plans to revert to a form of schooling not fitted for the current century. Just one straight quote is enough to give a flavour: …most parents would rather their children had a traditional education, with children sitting in rows, learning the kings and queens of England, the great works of literature, proper mental arithmetic, algebra by the age of 11, modern foreign languages. That’s the best training for the mind and that’s how children will be able to compete …

This is obviously how he sees education now … as he saw it and experienced it in his school days. He hasn’t moved on. If I were to sum up what I think Mr Gove feels is the most important thing in education today in one word,  I would use the word ‘rote’.

If only, as I keep saying, we could remove education from politics … if only.


Just to be on the safe side I decided to consult the Conservative Manifesto and looked up schools – there did not appear to be a section for education – and this is part of what I found:

Every child who is capable of reading should be doing so after two years in primary school, and evidence from Scotland has shown that there are teaching methods that can make this possible. To make this happen we will promote the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics and ensure teachers are properly trained to teach using this method. And to provide parents with the reassurance they need that their child is making progress, we will establish a simple reading test at the age of six.

I do hope that this does not mean that we are going back  to word recognition reading tests … I remember Schonell … tree, little, milk, egg, book, sit  …. or testing based on the ability not to read words.

And … We will reform the National Curriculum so that it is more challenging and based on evidence about what knowledge can be mastered by children at different ages. We will ensure that the primary curriculum is organised around subjects like Maths, Science and History. We will encourage setting so those who are struggling get extra help.

So … subjects ‘ like’ Maths, Science and History … I wonder where that leaves languages, geography, art, music, PE, design, dance (Sir Ken Robinson would have a view on this) … oh, and english (or literacy) – perhaps that is covered by synthetic phonics.

I decided not to go on about the ‘Swedish’ school model.

Worrying times … let’s take control … a viral uprising seems to be called for.


Helipad at Loughborough University – Doug Dickinson

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