With one years notice the Secretary of State for education has announced significant changes to the national curriculum affecting primary schools. This will be yet another major upheaval for the teaching resources in order to accommodate substantial changes in the teaching format.
The latest changes are the outcome of Michael Gove attempting to arrest the declining position of Britain’s educational system in the international educational league tables. But importantly it follows a staggering number of such initiatives that have been both costly, time consuming and many have been proven to be fruitless. Concerned teachers believe this is yet another change in the on-going attempt to improve our educational standards. Pupils in school have been the guinea pigs in testing new initiatives for generations and it is of considerable concern that this latest change will take five to 10 years before it can be proven whether it has worked. If it works it will be deemed a huge success but it follows a long list of educational initiatives that have failed miserably.
To be well educated is a primary objective in the preparation of our children for adulthood. This objective has been fundamental in government policy for decades yet there have been significant weaknesses in the educational programme that has singularly failed to track with the needs of modern society and industry. The criticism of the existing curriculum is profound and the changes are therefore significant. This alone indicates the weighty misfit between the educational programme and the needs of our children. It beggars belief that these changes, if they are to be successful, have taken so long to be introduced. Despite a huge concentration on the science curriculum over the past five years designed to generate interest in science as a career, science is only now being introduced for the first time into the primary school activities. At the age of five children will become aware of the wonders of science that could well spawn their interest throughout their schooling and career ambitions. This may seem obvious but why has it taken this long to manifest a move to inspire young children.
The primary educational program is vital in providing the groundwork to support children as they enter secondary school. In a similar fashion the secondary education is vital to support learning in further education and in employment. Yet this fundamental need for children; to be well educated in maths, literature and science has only just entered the thought process of the government.
We can only wish our children well and our teaching resources the resilience to accommodate these changes wholeheartedly. Without them and we can only look at more of the same and the potential of a further decline in our standing in the world educational league tables. This may be difficult after the vote of no confidence in the Secretary of State’s educational policies given by the teaching unions earlier this year. But to decline his proposals would be a travesty to the next generation of children and although government initiatives have not had the success originally intended let us hope these latest changes actually achieve the desired objective and that we do not witness a scheme fall apart through teacher resistance or changes in government that frustrate the overall objective which is to improve our educational standard and give children what they actually deserve.