Professor Andrew Pollard thinks that England’s core subject reform for grades 5 to 11 is misguided and will not improve the student’s educational outcomes. Pollard’s criticized the standards as too driven by testing and less concerned with making sure that students are provided with education that is “broad and balanced.”
Pollard’s comments are especially noteworthy because he is a member of a four-person panel tasked with reviewing England’s National Curriculum. The details of the new study plans for mathematics, English, science and foreign languages were released last week, and mark a substantial departure, both in spirit and content, to the NC they are replacing.
The programs outline the list of skills that students will be required to acquire, rather than list the broad subject areas that the instructors were required to teach. The curriculum specifically stresses skills like mental arithmetics, spelling, literacy and reading comprehension.
Ministers also proposed to introduce more experimentation in science lessons and ensure that all children learn a foreign language from the age of seven.
Schools will be expected to ensure that all children grasp the curriculum content before moving on to the next year.
The National Curriculum panel, which was headed by Cambridge Assessment exam board’s Tim Oates, was asked to study the education policies and programs employed by some of the more successful academic systems around the world and how similar ones might be adapted in England to improve schools in the country. The board looked at tactics employed by countries like Singapore, Hong Kong and Poland, and returned a list of recommendations that those drafting the new standards should follow in order to raise the level of academic achievement in England’s students.
But Prof Pollard said it was “far from clear that these sources have influenced the proposals” published this week.
He claimed that three of the four committee members quit after the publication of the December report because they could not back the “detailed year-on-year” syllabus model favoured by the Government. It left Mr Oates to develop the curriculum alongside Department for Education officials, he said.
Mr. Oates defended the plan released by the government, saying that Pollard’s concerns were “misplaced.” He said that year-on-year goals helped teachers to understand how to focus their own lesson plans to ensure that students meet their academic goals. But that list didn’t force the teachers into a bind, allowing them plenty of flexibility in deciding how the subject should be taught.