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Will revision of the school curriculum improve standards?

11:02 UK time, Thursday, 20 January 2011

Education Secretary Michael Gove has said he wants more "facts" in England's national curriculum, as he launches a review of what children are taught. Do you welcome the review?

Under the review, a panel of experts will examine what is taught in England's schools. Mr Gove has told them that English, maths, science and PE must remain compulsory for children of all ages.

Speaking on the BBC's Today programme, Mr Gove said the panel would determine what content should be specified in the new curriculum. "I'm not going to be coming up with any prescriptive lists, I just think there should be facts".

However, Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, has said: "Ministers' desire to return to the public school curriculum they were taught over 25 years ago is not in the best interests of today's young people."

What do you think of the reduction of the school curriculum? What improvements would you like to see to the education system? What subjects would you like to see taught? Are you a parent or teacher?

Views from teachers and parents

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Comments

Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    No more "top-down management", huh?

    I can't speak for other subjects, but as a geography undergraduate I find what Mr. Gove is saying about the alleged state of geography - that we only ever learn about the UK - is a complete fallacy and not representative of any of the geography courses that my friends and I (from a multitude of educational backgrounds) took in secondary school.

    The Kobe earthquake, the Montserrat eruption, water management in the Colorado basin, biodiversity in and threats to the Amazonian, Congolese and Indonesian rainforests, the last major quake in San Francisco . . . these are all case studies that my geography teachers went into great detail about.

    Mr. Gove's planned return to "fact" based geography is extremely disturbing to anyone in the geographical community, because it conjures up an image of 50s style geography classes where children learn where lots of countries and memorise capital cities, but learn nothing about the human and physical processes that occur there. That is not geography, rather it is general knowledge, and geographical academia moved past that decades ago.

  • Comment number 2.

    so English is compulsory ?

    id say its a pile of rubbish

    you tell me how writing up coursework on animal farm and reading poems should be compulsory???

    how about teaching something useful?

    id say English is very important but not they way it is at the moment!

    nobody is interested in poems or what message animal farm sends out about pigs etc. you'd get a better response if you asked the kids to read a harry potter book.

  • Comment number 3.

    I would like to see politicians keeping their ignorant noses out of education. Any chages that are needed are best identified by those within the education system i.e. the teachers, lecturers, staff, students and pupils etc...
    I suppose cutting EMA's and increasing tution fees is going to help education standards? Another Tory enigma to solve.

  • Comment number 4.

    Kids need to be taught how to teach themselves and reason, not merely absorb facts.

    Some still believe in Father Christmas at 12.

  • Comment number 5.

    It goes to show that teacher’s professional judgments are not taken account of. Is Michael Gove really implying that a teacher will plan a lesson for History without thinking to mention any facts? Or that teachers will teach Geography but not think to relate it to a specific country?

    Lessons, particularly in Primary schools, should be about learning ad developing skills, such as research, investigation, ICT and not just about learning cold, hard facts. You can't transfer the knowledge of facts, whereas skills can equip you for life.

  • Comment number 6.

    Let's face it - they can't get any worse after 13 years of Labour blundering. They threw billions at education only to see us slip further and further down the merit tables. A third of school children leave eduction without basic literacy and numeracy skills. Well done Labour!

  • Comment number 7.

    The biggest farce continues to be the secondary school 'options' process that seems to be tailored to the school rather than the student. The choice of non-core subjects is so wide now that the children are forced to choose between core subjects e.g. choose one of History or Geography in year 9.

    State schools are trying to please everyone rather than sending our children into the world with high stands in core subjects, IT literacy and social skills as a basis for their future in community.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think a lot of the teachers who are protesting this are just worried that if they have to teach facts instead of woolly, vague soundbite nonsense, they will be shown up as lacking; there have already been issues over the standards of numeracy and literacy among classroom staff, and I know that my own child is being taught French by someone who doesn't actually know how the language is pronounced. As a parent I welcome a return to an education in which my child is not taught simply to pass tests with no understanding of what she is learning; I have no problem supporting her education at home, but when it comes to having to provide her with the answers the staff don't seem to have, I begin to wonder how they earn their pay. I was astonished to read in your list of what is presently compulsory that modern languages are included, since at a parents' meeting last night I was told that my child's high school 'hadn't bothered' with any language teaching at all till the current year, because 'the kids weren't interested'. They are taught almost nothing about anything which could lead them to a job or career, but they have spent hours and hours on sports and lessons about healthy eating, the benefits of cycling, and helping their parents to give up smoking (I don't smoke, nor does anyone in our household, so there went a good fifteen hours of my child's educational time at both primary and secondary on a big fat nothing, but obviously it was far more important than teaching her that the Second World War actually involved Japan and Russia too...) It is high time the education system went back to educating kids instead of propagandising them...

  • Comment number 9.

    No.

    The standard of education will rise when politicians stop tinkering with it.

  • Comment number 10.

    Will reducing the number of compulsory subjects from 13 to 6 improve standards? Of course it won't!

  • Comment number 11.

    Something needs to be done. Of the teachers I know they were sick of the interference and lack of scope they were allowed. They were effectively told how to do their jobs and the instructions changed so regular that children couldnt keep up never mind the teachers. And that was just primary school.

  • Comment number 12.

    While useful facts are an obviously important of the curriculum there should be more emphasis on teaching practical skills. For instance, I think it good that food technology is now taught to both sexes but I have noticed that the actual ability to cook a wide range of dishes is a lot rarer among school leavers. I also think there should more teaching of logic and analytical skills so the pupils are better able to use and understand the various facts they have to learn.

  • Comment number 13.

    There are certainly too many compulsory subjects! Options at GCSE are rather not options as there is no room for them after all the other compulsory subjects.

    The problem with Mr Gove is: 1: Politicians generally have no clue in running anything to do with education; 2: facts are only one feature of learning. Of-course, education will never get better as it’s certainly not the politicians fault but all the rubbish teachers.

    Or is it that education will never get better because first: education (schools) should not be seen as a dumping ground for children while their parents go off the work. Lets have after school clubs so their parents can work ... sorry students can do interesting things.

  • Comment number 14.

    Mr Gove's seems to be over-influenced by the notion that every child should be educated in the same way. In particular, the model he favours echoes that followed by English public schools. This was originally designed for the sons of gentlemen who would never be expected to do real work. The inclusion of PE as a compulsory element of the curriculum can be traced back to the importance formerly attached to "the playing fields of Eton". The exclusion of any technical skills reflects the attitude that these should only be taught to dummies. Post imperial Britain does not need so many army officers and administrators. It needs instead, more engineers and designers and technicians of every kind.

    The aim of education should be to develop the potential of every child. Every child should be taught to use the English language and Mathematics to the highest level that they are capable of, because these core skills are the basis of so much else. But why not include written instructions on how to assemble a flat pack or even how to remove an engine from a car in the material used for testing comprehension.

    For the rest, every child should sample as many things as possible, and then given the opportunity to concentrate on those areas where they have the most ability and interest.

  • Comment number 15.

    Can't do any harm. I can't believe the kids today are more intelligent than 20+ years ago, so why do they keep getting higher and higher grades? Dumbing down of subjects, easier subjects taken and easier (multiple choice) questions on exam papers?

  • Comment number 16.

    I sense that there are some major cuts on the way. Halving the compulsory subjects means running schools in the mornings only, letting teachers of non-compulsory subjects go, and making teachers of compulsory subjects part-time. Teaching of non-compulsory subjects will be handed to the private sector, who will employ teachers and use the schools in the afternoons for kids whose parents who can afford the fees.

  • Comment number 17.

    I think it will help, but the main problem, in my opinion, has yet to be addressed: the teachers and their unions.
    They are not fit for purpose in the 21st century needs for education. They still seem stuck in the 20th century class politics and far too PC and leftist in general.
    Until we reform this aspect of the education system ANY reforms will be like 'pulling teeth' as OUR children's education falls lower and lower on world rankings as per recent reports.

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    I did o levels in computer design and programming, engeneering and electronics as well as maths, physics and chemistry followed by A levels in Computing, maths and physics.

    None of the seconday schools in our area offer electronics as an GCSE and nor could i find a school offering a GCSE in computing they all offered ITC which appeared to be how to use MS Office.

    When i left university I was earning 16k (approx equlivant to 25-28k in todays numbers) with in 6 months, 20 years later university students doing my course earned an average of 18k after 12 months and saddled with massive debt!

    We as a country need engineers, software developers and currently we are not producing them!

  • Comment number 20.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 21.

    Modern education needs to be relevant if children are to learn and absorb it. Learning the geographic process behind ox-bow rivers isn't important but learning the geography behind a sat-nav or google-earth is something that kids can understand and relate to because they see and use them every day.

    I'd like to see more emphasis placed on proper skills like cooking (actually how to cook and not just boil an egg or bake a cup-cake) which could introduce children to food's not on their plate at home. First aid is another example. sewing would be useful as I've often had to dispose of clothes (mainly socks) because I didn't know how to repair them. Instead of learning about differential equations in maths how about learning about home finances to explain to children that when they grow up they will have to pay rent, national insurance, income tax, council tax, car tax etc.

    I also find it slightly ironic how much emphasis government's place on teaching English to halt the decline of grammar, and do this through a 500 year old playwright whose language has no relevance to modern society. That's not to say I don't enjoy Shakespeare but I've been far more successful in coming to it of my own accord in later life than I ever was in reading English Literature at school.

    It seems to me that Mr Gove's suggestions will continue to detach modern children from the world around them and provide them with 50s knowledge and skills that are inapplicable once they finish their education.

  • Comment number 22.

    Here we go again!! Oh, I am glad I have retired from the chalkface!!

    So Mr Gove wants more "facts", does he? Well, any fool from a public school can remember facts. Me, if I want facts I google them. What I want is original thinking, the ability to see outside the box, I want creativity, I want something new, new insights lead to new industries, new wealth, new jobs.

    Facts? They're merely an inaccurate summary of history!!

  • Comment number 23.

    If it helps children to do simple maths and arithmetic without the use of a calculator or anything else so they can manage if the electrics fail, and if it means more of them can write adequately and so stand a better chance of presenting an acceptable introductory letter with cv in order to apply for a job - good.

    Those who have long argued that correct spelling, punctuation and grammar are not important may find themselves shot in the foot now that so many applicants submit cvs for each post. Not only will those with the best qualifications and experience for the job be favoured, but also well presented letters may speak volumes. Employers can now be incredibly fussy.

    If I occasionally watch a general knowledge quiz - not covering television, popular music, entertanment or sport - the lack of knowledge revealed is quite embarrassing. Of course people cannot know everything, but after a while I am left wondering if they know anything.



  • Comment number 24.

    standards wont improve until this country returns to the 3-tier school system and re-introduces a selection system. Yes, every parent wants their child to go to "upper school" and do A-Levels, but some kids are just better off getting non-academic qualifications. There is nothing wrong with it and it shouldn't be seen as something bad, but trying to push every square pupil through the same round hole wont help anyone. If similar ability pupils would be together, they could get targeted work which would help them more than making everyone Joe Average. Comprehensive Schools have failed on the continent, why should they work here.

  • Comment number 25.

    Speaking as a well-educated parent, teacher and school governor: NO!!!

    What will help is a cessation of the ceaseless meddling and micromanagement of education that successive governments have engaged in. Just because they went to school does not mean that they have the first idea when it comes to education. It is not as if many have even held a real job or have any idea what employers want...

    We have educational professionals and existing 'critical friends' in the shape of governing bodies: let us get on with our job and you politicians get on with doing yours.

  • Comment number 26.

    It might - certainly science and the arts need to come back to the forefront like they used to be, before the current Dark Age began. However, I doubt it. The government perpetually acts in ignorance. It understands little about the education system and little about the problems faced by teachers and students and little about the needs of society. Instead they will continue to manage education like a financial business (because their narrow minds know no other) and thereby make a pig's ear of it! They will continue to preach what knowledge should be taught and what should not - banishing us to an ever deeper and darker Dark Age, and all because they think it is 'best for the economy'. The English Establishment evidently believes that 'ignorance is bliss' and so they have prescribed an abundance of ignorance to the lucky People.

  • Comment number 27.

    I think a review of the National Curriculum is long overdue. At the moment there is far too much which is specified, teachers have little discretion in what or how they teach and the whole thing is far too crowded. Add to that excessive, detailed record keeping on everything that each child does, with teachers spending ridiculous amounts of time creating records that no-one looks at.
    Let's aim for quality and simplicity with more autonomy for the teachers in what and how they teach as long as the results are up to scratch.

  • Comment number 28.

    Not if it is the Gove gospel ..in my opinion the man is totally out of his depth...hopefully he will be voted out along with the rest of the tory top brass at an election later this year...before too much damage is done to our education system

  • Comment number 29.

    As much as politicians shoudln't keep mucking about with education the teaching fraternity should messing about it as well. there's still the 70's ideology for all the increases in exam results there's still too many leaving education illerate and not grasping the fundamentals of maths and science. Universtities are having re-train supposedly bright students to get through their entrance exams and employers don't trust whats coming out of schools. Education should be more a community experience teachers, parents and employers working more closely together. From experience I have children wanting to do 'A' levels who would never have been considered taking them when I was at school because they just aren't bright enough. They merely get processed at school rather than finding their academic level such as GNVQ's

  • Comment number 30.

    Well it's been at least 6 weeks since our schools were last meddled with, so this is not unexpected!
    Seriously, why do we put up with this sham "leadership"?

  • Comment number 31.

    " 2. At 11:51am on 20 Jan 2011, scotty1694 wrote:
    so English is compulsory ?
    id say its a pile of rubbish
    you tell me how writing up coursework on animal farm and reading poems should be compulsory???
    how about teaching something useful?
    id say English is very important but not they way it is at the moment!
    nobody is interested in poems or what message animal farm sends out about pigs etc. you'd get a better response if you asked the kids to read a harry potter book."

    I think you've just shown why it should be compulsory!
    By the way, "Animal Farm" does not send out any message about pigs. It is about politics, socialism, capitalism, prejudice, greed and other aspects of human nature.

  • Comment number 32.

    Absolutely not!
    Michael Gove's comments show that he hasn't a clue what education actually achieves. "More knowledge" takes Geography back around a century to the "capes & bays" approach which was demanded in the days of the visiting school inspector. In order to understand Geography, you need to be capable of applying the skills of a geographer to almost any piece of information. For example, one could track & even map the wasted resources caused by Michael Gove in his ridiculous crusade.
    It would be a far better use of resources to have an educator in charge of national education policy, or is that too obvious an idea and an application of otherwise wasted knowledge?

  • Comment number 33.

    #2: I think you have summed up beautifully why Eng Lit curriculum needs to reworked. It may not have been what you meant, but the curriculum should challenge pupils and expand their knowledge and skills. That is why studying poetry and books such as Animal Farm (it is a satire on communism not a book about pigs - you did know this surely) is so important.

    Coming back to the question: of course changing the curriculum makes no difference, it is teachers who make the difference. Good teachers improve standards, bad teachers do not.

    This is not about improving standards but about defining what the purpose of a subject is. History is a classic example of all that is wrong with the left leaning educational establishment since the 1960s. All too frequently pupils go through their entire education and never study any history earlier than WW1 (sometimes not even earlier than WW2). We should not go back to history as merely a subject where you learn a whole load of dates (how dull). But equally the present teaching of history as merely about acquiring skills of assessing evidence and "emphathising" with someone of earlier is fundamentally wrong. History is both facts and skills, it is about understanding what are facts and what are opinions, how to validate and assess evidence and being able to put a story into the correct historical context.

  • Comment number 34.

    #7. At 11:59am on 20 Jan 2011, hainba wrote:
    The biggest farce continues to be the secondary school 'options' process that seems to be tailored to the school rather than the student. The choice of non-core subjects is so wide now that the children are forced to choose between core subjects e.g. choose one of History or Geography in year 9.

    State schools are trying to please everyone rather than sending our children into the world with high stands in core subjects, IT literacy and social skills as a basis for their future in community.

    ------------------------------

    The choice of "options" in Secondary Schools is not new. My sons were having to make the same "choice" back in the late 1980s/early 1990s (which, as I recall, was under the previous Tory administration). They could not do both History and Geography and had to choose just one. There were many other subjects that were lumped into categories and it was basically tough luck if they wanted to do two from the same category, just like now.

    I would also like to say, that when I was at school (I am over 60 now) we were taught many facts, particularly in History, but with no substance around it making me really dislike the subject. By watching many period dramas, documentaries and films since my schooldays I have begun to realise what a great subject history really was. Yes, children need to be taught facts but they also need to have more information surrounding those facts in order to appreciate the subject concerned. Also, if the teacher can make learning interesting (and fun to) they will have no trouble keeping their pupils attention.

  • Comment number 35.

    The sooner these reforms are implemented the better but let's go one step further and bring back streaming and the 3 tier education system that worked until Labour chose to dismantle it in the '60s.

    I received an excellent State education even though I failed the 11 plus, I passed an exam at 13 and was moved to a Technical High School where I took and passed several O levels.

    Todays children should have the same chances.

  • Comment number 36.

    We obviously have a education minister who wants to give our children the mind of "inspector morse".

  • Comment number 37.

    For the love of all that is sane - why can't governments keep their hands off education. Every single successive government feels it needs to tinker with our schools. Why not set a minimum spend per student (without any "London weighting..books cost the same if they are bulk purchased and what better way to encourage the best teachers to get out of London), fund local authorities appropriately, just let each school get on with it for a few years?

    Sigh.

  • Comment number 38.

    30. At 12:45pm on 20 Jan 2011, chrislabiff wrote:

    Well it's been at least 6 weeks since our schools were last meddled with, so this is not unexpected!
    Seriously, why do we put up with this sham "leadership"?

    ---------------------

    Because you all put up with the last sham leadership who messed with schools many times a month.

  • Comment number 39.

    We went wrong many years ago by making grammar schools for the most intelligent and technical schools for the less able. It was a throw back to thinking that a classical education was superior to a scientific one. In Germany the two were on a par. Many highly intelligent children are good at science and engineering and it is to the benefit of the country to have a highly qualified science base. All my siblings went to grammar schools and one brother who was very scientific would have been better catered for at a technical college
    It has long been a fact that Oxford specialises for the classics and many educated privately do well at these subjects. Private schools have long excelled at subjects such as History and Latin they are so much cheaper to fund. State schools have given more science subjects because the State equip the expensive laboratories necessary.
    Too many MP's have qualifications in subjects such as History the nearest they get to science is perhaps economics! They have a bias towards these subjects with a false impression as to the value of such subjects

  • Comment number 40.

    I went to a traditional state grammar school back in the late 50's. Did Geography at 'A' and 'S' Level and loved it - all those 'facts' to learn. Went to University in the 60's and was promptly informed that almost everything that I had been taught at school was a) just wrong (or at least, very questionable) or b) out of date. Got really interested in what my subject was REALLY about as an academic area. Went into teaching and spent most of my teaching career working with kids of all abilities, to get THEM to question and ask: 'WHY IS ?', not to just learn the answer to the lower order sort of question: 'WHAT IS'? I know what the kids gained most from - it was from investigation, discovering stuff that was relevant to them, debating issues.

    And now, 50 years later, we have a Secretary of State who apparently knows much better.......

    Hope the professional subject associations are gearing themselves up for at least some pretence of a fight - but from past experience, I doubt it.

    The only saving grace from all this nonsense is that Secretaries of State come and go, having made their own temporary contribution to the damage, to be replaced by some other ambitious political clown with another axe to grind and no better grasp of the issues.

    I suppose we should also take some degree of comfort from the fact that, over the years, school education has survived, despite the attentions of the politicos.....

  • Comment number 41.

    As with the our health provision, we need to measure our educational success objectively against other western nations. Right now we are lagging badly in core skills. This must be addressed if we are to be a great nation again.

  • Comment number 42.

    "I'd like to see more emphasis placed on proper skills like cooking (actually how to cook and not just boil an egg or bake a cup-cake) which could introduce children to food's not on their plate at home. First aid is another example. sewing would be useful as I've often had to dispose of clothes (mainly socks) because I didn't know how to repair them. Instead of learning about differential equations in maths how about learning about home finances to explain to children that when they grow up they will have to pay rent, national insurance, income tax, council tax, car tax etc."

    ------------------------------------

    Also when they borrow money, either from a lender or via a credit card, that the money is not free - they have to pay it back. Maybe then, so many people wouldn't get into so much debt.

  • Comment number 43.

    Post number 2 has made my day.

    Aside from the obvious issues in the post, Scotty's other posts include discussions about human rights in Communist countries...even so, he thinks we shouldn't teach Animal Farm because it's just about pigs.

    Awesome! You couldn't make it up.

  • Comment number 44.

    Yes, it will go some way to improving standards, but until there is a resurection of Grammar, Modern and Technical schools we will continue to slip down the educational standards league table. Comprehensives only educate to below the mean level of the pupils. By having three grades of schools, with movement between them allowe for at 13 and 16, to allow late starters to progress, the lessons and subjects can be more easily be tailored to the potential of the pupils.

  • Comment number 45.

    "Education Secretary Michael Gove has said he wants more "facts" in England's national curriculum, as he launches a review of what children are taught".

    More facts eh? We not teaching RE anymore then?

  • Comment number 46.

    Nobody listens do they?

    leave it alone it works just fine.......

    i am beginning to understand the view that says peaceful protests do not work.

  • Comment number 47.

    A further reason for reforming the National Curriculum is that at present we are teaching children to pass exams, WE ARE NOT EDUCATING THEM.

  • Comment number 48.

    3. At 11:54am on 20 Jan 2011, rememberdurruti wrote:
    I would like to see politicians keeping their ignorant noses out of education. Any chages that are needed are best identified by those within the education system i.e. the teachers, lecturers, staff, students and pupils etc...
    I suppose cutting EMA's and increasing tution fees is going to help education standards? Another Tory enigma to solve.
    ====================================================
    The education system is a mess largely because of the educational establishment. Politicised teachers wanted a working class army to lead their socialist revolution and education of the lumpen proletariat undemined that process - they might even become middle class Tories! But their devalued education process led not to the revolution they wanted but to a self perpetuating chav underclass which helps ruin education for everyone. Education is too important to leave to teachers.

  • Comment number 49.

    I don't mind a review of the curriculum at all; but if anything it's been getting narrower and narrower since my schooldays, especially my junior schooldays. In my last year we had an enormously gifted teacher (benefited from teacher training on his return from WWII) who gave us all an interest in finding things out for ourselves - a spirit of enquiry that endures to this day. It was a far cry from the league-table-driven, prescriptive curricula of today.

    In English Literature, for A-level, we were encouraged to enter into the writer's thoughts, explore his or her mental processes and what he or she was trying to say, as well as the language he or she chose to say it. By the time I came to try a part-time degree in English and Cultural Studies, a quarter of a century later, this wonderful, mind-enriching process had become a sterile picking-apart of vocabulary and grammar - like pulling the threads out of a glorious tapestry to see what it's made of, and persevering until there's only unidentifiable wreckage left. Truly, just so devastating.

    Georgraphy is an interesting one: we did learn about people's ways of life and so forth in the countries we studied; but 40 years on, most of the countries have changed their names, many have changed their boundaries, and their crops and ways of life are totally different too. Geography can only ever be viewed as a work-in-progress. As for history: much might be made, perhaps, of exploring the truth that it's the victors who write it; and maybe exploration of the losers' version would pay dividends. And certainly its scope should be broadened way beyond the last century and the Victorians: the work of Richard III to establish a fair and just legal system with habeas corpus (so under threat in recent times) and other provisions; promptly followed by the dreadful Henry VII and his Star Chamber - detention without charge or trial, and probably summary execution as well. All these things have influenced where we are today, and children seem to learn almost nothing of them.

    So - by all means review away, Mr Gove; but give scope to imagination, to creativity, to finding links to and logical progression from the past, to understanding and curiosity - not just to 'facts'!

  • Comment number 50.

    8. At 12:02pm on 20 Jan 2011, Lemming wrote:
    They are taught almost nothing about anything which could lead them to a job or career, but they have spent hours and hours on sports and lessons about healthy eating, the benefits of cycling, and helping their parents to give up smoking (I don't smoke, nor does anyone in our household, so there went a good fifteen hours of my child's educational time at both primary and secondary on a big fat nothing, but obviously it was far more important than teaching her that the Second World War actually involved Japan and Russia too...) It is high time the education system went back to educating kids instead of propagandising them...


    Agree 100% with this. We hear endless tales of how shools have no money for books, computers or even in some cases enough staff to teach the kids and protect them from bullies but somehow can magick up a bottomless pit of cash to weigh and measure children, employ 'healthy eating monitors' or even (in the case of certain authorities) identify kids now defined by the ridiculous percentile system as 'obese' and pack them off to fat camp.

    No-one ever asked me if I wanted my future kids put on a diet, the whole destructive 'anti-obesity' agenda never featured in anyone's manifesto, yet no doubt any parent who tries to oppose it because they don't want their kids indoctrinated to obsess over weight and food will themselves be labelled with nanny statist terms such as 'noncompliant' and 'obstructive' and find themselves on some database; meanwhile, the genuinely disruptive, unteachable kids get away with murder because dealing with them involves actually doing some work.

    The education system has infiltrated by the lobby / scare industry and re-tasked with the dissemination of state propaganda to the point that it is now seen as not only a method of policing parents but a way of dealing with every real or imagined 'social problem' allegedly faced by society. (As a town planner, I am fully aware of the dangers of politicians believing everyhting can be solved with tick-box policies and legislation - in particular, the 'obesity' agenda is about to become a material planning consideration on which applications for development can be refused).

    No wonder today's teens (and by extension their parents) are growing up to be perpetually anxious about a terrifying world full of dangerous drugs, evil fat people, paedophiles beyond the perimeter fence, irresponsible parents dying of smoking related diseases and the drowning teddies that feature in climate change campaigns, and view everything in the simplistic black-and-white, good-or-bad terms promoted by the lobbyists. Too much and far, far too young. It's time to kick them and the stress to which they delight in subjecting our children out of the classroom along with those NuLab trained teachers who've encouraged and driven such a negative, fearful agenda, and make them places of learning and inspiration again.

  • Comment number 51.

    Posters above have mentioned science, too. I feel it would be a good move to bring science lessons a bit more up-to-date, if it hasn't already happened. When I was at High School, a little, and certainly 15 years ago, when my daughters were at secondary school, our respective science teachers had an ongoing theme of 'of course, I have to teach you this to get you through your exams; but it's all out-dated: with the advent of quantum physics, we know it's not true'. That's just a waste of everyone's time, effort and money!

  • Comment number 52.

    The phrase "If it ain't broke don't fix it" springs to mind. Under a Labour Government standards increased an awful lot, just check the exam results since 1997.

    The tories have already destroyed the lives of millions of children already by trebling tuition fees and removing the EMA, now they want to ruin the education system.

  • Comment number 53.

    You know of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? I think there is another similar disease called School Endless Initiatives Syndrome. Many school teachers suffer from this, as each successive education secretary has to make his mark and so launches a new set of initiatives. Before they have settled into place the next education secretary dreams up a new set.

    Whatever happens in the next 6 months could there PLEASE then be a period of stability for 2 or 3 years when teachers and governors (especially those with the freedoms granted by academy and other stati) can get on with the job.

    Change is essential but in education it seems to be more like a Maoist perpetual revolution (which was originally a tool more for repression and control, rather than progress)

  • Comment number 54.

    It would appear to me that most people 40+ are relatively eloquent, of above-average intelligence, holding down jobs (and in many cases the best jobs), can add up in their head and find their way around the country. I bet they also know what impact Winston Churchill had in our history. Does that not suggest that many years ago we were doing something right by teaching the core subjects, with luxury subjects added in to pad things out?!!! Our education system was the envy of the world.
    Now lets look at the current crop!! Seven out of ten youngsters between 2 and 5 can use the internet but not ride a bike! Less than 2 in 10 of the same age group can swim! Only 48% know their home address, only 11% can tie their shoelaces and only 30% can write their first and last names. Whilst being able to use the internet may be a great thing when you are young, it does not follow that you are going to achieve, evidenced by the current crop of illiterate and unemployable kids leaving our educational system (according to our most respected CEOs).
    The system has failed and Mary Bousted needs to take a long hard look in the mirror, because she is part of that dismal failure.

  • Comment number 55.

    Interesting debate.

    The strong reaction against the government's ideas that 'facts are important' seems a bit odd. You can't really reason unless you have facts, and I suspect many teachers dislike facts, because teaching them is hard to do, but easy to check on.

    I was struck by the fact that the only people kids HAVE to know about are Wilberforce and the slave whose name I didn't catch.

    On the one hand, it is an example of the cloying political correctness that prevailed under Labour. On the other hand, I see teenagers studying history, and I can see that they know an awful lot more about the likes of Churchill, Lloyd George etc than they do about Wilberforce.

    And though there are clearly problems with basic literacy and numeracy, these are not purely 'British' issues. I have noticed that a lot of French and German people make serious spelling mistakes nowadays.

    More to the point, I find many of the younger Brits I encounter, as colleagues, and serving in shops, pubs and cafés, seem well-educated and well-adjusted. Maybe it's because very bright people are taking jobs they wouldn't have looked at 30 years ago, but maybe our education isn't as bad as it is made out to be.

  • Comment number 56.

    2. At 11:51am on 20 Jan 2011, scotty1694 wrote:

    so English is compulsory ?

    id say its a pile of rubbish

    you tell me how writing up coursework on animal farm and reading poems should be compulsory???

    how about teaching something useful?

    id say English is very important but not they way it is at the moment!

    nobody is interested in poems or what message animal farm sends out about pigs etc. you'd get a better response if you asked the kids to read a harry potter book.
    -------------------------------------
    Children already read Harry Potter, there is no need to ask them.

  • Comment number 57.

    I think the syllabus of English Language should be changed. Right now there is too much emphasis on creative writing, poetry and other artistic uses of the language. Although there is some practical content like letter writing and report writing, I don't think there is enough.

  • Comment number 58.

    I do agree that the government should be taken out of how education is run but i think teachers today are pretty much useless, you get the odd good one but most do not have a clue. When it came to GCSE choices for my children, it was awful as they couldn't do history and georgraphy or they could only do a certain science and they could only do either French or German - the choices were very hard to make and way too complicated. All this coursework is non-effective too. I took O levels and they seemed much harder than the exams they get today. Geography was my favourite subject and leant all about rivers, lakes, the earths surfaces, mountains, the land and growing crops etc and also learnt all the counties in uk and capital cities across the world - this has stood me in good stead for many things - kids knowing about other countries can be learnt from watching the news, reading encyclopedia's, googling nowadays and it later education, visiting these countries. Whiolst i hated history, i did learn about Brunel Stevenson, the battle of culloden, the textile industy and had some good field trips. With regard to English, i did numerous spelling tests at home and in school and the same with parrot fashion learning my times tables and doing fractions and division and percentages - any other maths is irrelevant at school level. As for Reading Harry Potter in school, that is ridiculus, children need to read something more historical - I did of mice and men and loved it.
    There is way too much mamby pamby with our kids today, everyone has the same opportunity to learn and work hard and if they chose not to and bum about then they get what they deserve - that's not the governments fault.
    Education should be back to basics with core subjects, more discipline and only those who are intelligent enough should go onto higher education and Uni, as it used to be. There used to be no EMA in my day, you got a part-time job. More often than not i hear parents saying i don't want my son or daughter getting a part-time job, i want them to concentrate on their studies - get a grip and harden up - working hard and learning makes us better people.

  • Comment number 59.

    Qualifications are getting easier to obtain, we all know this. Kids haven't just got brighter year on year for the last 15 years, surely there would be a blip at some point if easier qualifications weren't the reason?

    Kids are getting qualifications in pointless subjects, media studies, sports science, bubblegum chewing, etc. I say pointless as they have no benefit in the 'real world'

    The number of graduates we have joining our business who don't have a basic grasp or geography, i.e. where is Manchester, in the north England, south England or Wales? They couldn't answer. Don't even bother asking them where foreign countries are as they've not a clue.

    Ask someone to work a percentage out without a calculator or the internet and they break out in a sweat. Really handy when negotiating across a table with a client?

    If it all came down to who could twitter and social network the most then the young would be running the world however it doesn't and being able to tell me the history of Coronation St or give me an answer once they've checked Wikipedia, doesn't cut it in the real world...

  • Comment number 60.

    Yet another indicator of how hypocritical this govt is. Talk, talk, talk about light touch govt and local determination, etc etc blah blah blah but then they just can't keep their hands off.

    If only we could get rid of all this ideologically driven interference (academies, English bacc and other nonsenses) and leave schools and professional educationalists, overseen by the local authority to ensure coherent local planning and availability of specialist services, to identify a suitable curriculum (which won't be the same for every child because, guess what, they are individuals too, though there is a core of subjects that most should receive at whatever level suits them). Then please could we just leave them alone to get on with it

  • Comment number 61.

    Facts are useless without understanding. For too long governments of various hues have poked their noses into things they`re not qualified in and try to teach grandmothers how to suck eggs. Professionals don`t need government ministers to tell them how to do their jobs. What they do need is the freedom to engage their pupils and encourage them to be the best they can be. Leave it to teachers and parents.

  • Comment number 62.

    So are we going back to memory tests that can be passed parrot fashion but with no understanding at all?

    By way of example, list of facts,

    1066 Battle of Hastings
    1689 Bill of Rights
    1914 Outbreak of WW1

    List of questions that require understanding and evidence based answers,

    1066 - was it anything other than just another invasion by a successful war lord followed by oppression of the locals?

    1689 - How did an 'unalienable' set of rights, granted to all, managed to get repealed over the next 400 years by Parliaments that didn't actually represent the majority?

    1914 - Duke Ferdinand was a minor figure so what else was going on that allowed so many nations to force their people to go to war using his death as a pretext?

  • Comment number 63.

    Facts eh? The man’s sounding like Gradgrind in Dickens’ Hard Times, a story about the dangers of a society without a moral imagination. So glad I studied such delights at my east London comprehensive school, now sadly a sports academy. For how long can they get away with this ignorant drivel?

  • Comment number 64.

    31. At 12:48pm on 20 Jan 2011, yellowsandydog wrote:

    I think you've just shown why it should be compulsory!
    By the way, "Animal Farm" does not send out any message about pigs. It is about politics, socialism, capitalism, prejudice, greed and other aspects of human nature."

    Well, I think English should be compulsory, but it should teach grammar and good use of English, and, as far as I am aware, that's not what it teaches at all nowadays.

    (Knowing that "Animal Farm" is about human nature, while interesting, isn't that important for general life. On the other hand decent grammar and spelling is very important for any job involving writing).

  • Comment number 65.

    What is a fact? depends on which side of history your on, Like the British Empire the Glory days for some? The Con/Fibs government should let the teachers do they job, and try to run this country? in a fair and proper manner for all, not just help The Greedy bankers' and Big Business.

  • Comment number 66.

    32. At 12:48pm on 20 Jan 2011, BDZ wrote:
    Absolutely not!
    Michael Gove's comments show that he hasn't a clue what education actually achieves. "More knowledge" takes Geography back around a century to the "capes & bays" approach which was demanded in the days of the visiting school inspector. In order to understand Geography, you need to be capable of applying the skills of a geographer to almost any piece of information.
    =========================
    I presume from your disparaging comments about "capes and bays" that you consider geography just an element in sociology or politics. But in order to understand a whole range of issues, you need to understand the elements of physical geography and allied subjects such as meteorology and geology (all of which were embraced by "geography" when I was at school in the 60s). Britain's history is a product of it's geography. The abundance of coal and iron and their role in the industrial revolution; the fact that we were an island with abundant hardwoods led us to being a nation of mariners which led to us being a trading and a colonial nation. Without understanding the physical geography of our own planet, how would we understand the physical nature of other planets? Or are these thing not utilitarian enough for you? Physical geography underlies what we are.

  • Comment number 67.

    Given that under Labour the British exam results seemed only ever to get better yet World authorities now rank UK kids’ math as having plummeted to 28th it seems clear we need something drastic to change.

    Perhaps a few more facts and rather less play-learning waffle about ‘human processes’ and ‘point of view' revisionist history etc. would seem appropriate.

    I am told that 50% + of Chinese students study maths, engineering and the other rigorous subjects at Uni whereas less than 15% are said to study the rigorous subjects in the UK, which bodes badly for our long-term future so it seems we need to start kids on hard objective learning as early as possible.


  • Comment number 68.

    Lets just hope Mr Gove adds "Britain during the 1980's" to the history syllabus, then no one will ever vote conservative again...

  • Comment number 69.

    52. At 1:34pm on 20 Jan 2011, thelevellers wrote:
    The phrase "If it ain't broke don't fix it" springs to mind. Under a Labour Government standards increased an awful lot, just check the exam results since 1997.

    The tories have already destroyed the lives of millions of children already by trebling tuition fees and removing the EMA, now they want to ruin the education system.
    ===========================================================
    Fine principle. Unfortunately, it IS broke. And look not at the exam results (where a GCSE in modern dance is as good as one in German or Physics)but to how far we've fallen in comparison with other nations.

    As for "destroying the lives of millions of children", when you go to University at 18+, you are not a child. You are an adult (supposedly) capable of making decisions about the level of debt you wish to incur.

  • Comment number 70.

    48. At 1:28pm on 20 Jan 2011, Steve Edwards wrote:
    3. At 11:54am on 20 Jan 2011, rememberdurruti wrote:
    I would like to see politicians keeping their ignorant noses out of education. Any chages that are needed are best identified by those within the education system i.e. the teachers, lecturers, staff, students and pupils etc...
    I suppose cutting EMA's and increasing tution fees is going to help education standards? Another Tory enigma to solve.
    ====================================================
    The education system is a mess largely because of the educational establishment. Politicised teachers wanted a working class army to lead their socialist revolution and education of the lumpen proletariat undemined that process - they might even become middle class Tories! But their devalued education process led not to the revolution they wanted but to a self perpetuating chav underclass which helps ruin education for everyone. Education is too important to leave to teachers.

    ==================================
    "Education is too important to leave to teachers" - a bit like "Health is too important to leave to doctors" you mean?

    The biggest load of rubbish of the day - 10/10.

  • Comment number 71.

    We do desperately need facts to be taught in all schools throughout the world. Let's start by getting rid of religious teachings being taught as some form of truth. If we want facts let all of us recognise priesthoods for what they really are; preposterous made-up, pseudo-females having an inate desire to control humanity for their own, and, politicians selfish greed and festering egotisms.

  • Comment number 72.

    "No wonder today's teens (and by extension their parents) are growing up to be perpetually anxious about a terrifying world full of dangerous drugs, evil fat people, paedophiles beyond the perimeter fence, irresponsible parents dying of smoking related diseases and the drowning teddies that feature in climate change campaigns, and view everything in the simplistic black-and-white, good-or-bad terms promoted by the lobbyists. Too much and far, far too young. It's time to kick them and the stress to which they delight in subjecting our children out of the classroom along with those NuLab trained teachers who've encouraged and driven such a negative, fearful agenda, and make them places of learning and inspiration again."

    -----------

    Since when have most state schools been places of learning and inspiration. I went through the state school system during the 1950's/1960's, and likewise my sons during the 1980's/1990's (during the last Tory administration), and during our school days, even though we were taught lessons, I could hardly say that the schools we attended actually inspired us at all, and feel that we learnt more about the things that mattered after we left school.

    I have said before and will repeat again, this is nothing new, whether we are under a Tory, Labour or Coalition Government, education will not improve for everyone until it is just left to the Schools, Teachers, Governors and Local Authorities to get on with the subject of educating our children - not the Government.

  • Comment number 73.

    The irony being that this policy seems to be devoid of any 'facts' whatsoever. Gove's interview on the Today programme was a masterclass in not answering any questions. The only things I learned was that Michael Gove used to be a researcher on the Today programme, and that I wouldn't buy a used car from him.

    The only coherent education policy of any government seems to be that the national curriculum must be changed more often than Gok Wan's shirts.

  • Comment number 74.

    I noticed in the article on this earlier that Citizenship is a compulsory subject. What? Where will that get anyone?

    To me English, Mathematics, one foreign language and a science should be mandatory subjects. I would also suggest that a subject that is relating to business e.g. contract law, accountancy, marketing, purchasing etc. should be included. Even if they don't go into an established business these sorts of subject could be highly useful if they go into business on their own. The more entrepreneurial pupils may therefore be encouraged and the world of commerce could be opened up. For others maybe a trade qualification should be made available. I can remember when I was at school there was a car maintenance after school class which was very successful.

    At the same time as looking at the syllabus, the Government needs to look at restoring power to the teachers so as to enable the teachers to teach without fear of reprisals, lawsuits etc. The power has shifted far too much in favour of the pupils and too many parents these days will automatically take the word of their son or daughter as fact rather than the teachers. In short, the whole education system needs an overhaul.

  • Comment number 75.

    Biggest problem is allowing the teaching profession any say in what is being taught. They are paid to teach by the taxpayer and should teach what is demanded of them , not what they decide.Since Labour came to power in 1997, the teachers appear to have more and more say in how they teach and exam standards have fallen and prospective employers and indeed universities are wary of claimed academic achievement.

  • Comment number 76.

    The Geography curriculum may not mention other countries, but they are certainly taught in geography lessons. Teachers ARE professionals, and will include a wide variety in their plans, if the curriculum allows them to. Now, I suppose, government will specify certain cities and countries to study (or else fail your OFSTED) and opportunities to study, say, the coutry a classmate comes from will go out the window, despite it being an excellent teaching opportunity.
    Facts and figures are no use without understanding. A parrot is not intelligent. Facts and figures are, however, easy to measure, unlike understanding, so of much greater interest to government ministers.

    How would they survive without being able to measure progress on a spreadsheet chart?

    What are they going to do with the many children who do not fit onto thair carefully constructed charts?

  • Comment number 77.

    Will revision of the school curriculum improve standards?
    11:02 UK time, Thursday, 20 January 2011

    Education Secretary Michael Gove has said he wants more "facts" in England's national curriculum, as he launches a review of what children are taught. Do you welcome the review?

    --------------------------------------------------------------
    I have a problem when politicians like Michael Gove-rnment start talking about teaching "facts" in schools, one man's 'facts' are another man's propaganda.


    If he wants teachers to teach that 1+1=2 fact, or the Earth is round fact, thats fine, but other topics such man-made global warming are speculation not fact, and should not be taught as fact.

    Also history books are usually written by the victors in wars not the defeated so the 'facts' contained therein could be the victors 'facts'.


    Just look at contentitious debates like the 9/11 conspiracy theories, one side claims to have professional archeticts and engineers to prove the towers fell too perfectly to be just the result of a plane-strike, the other side also has archeticts and engineers to prove the opposite.

    The only way to get a verifiable 'fact' in that case would be to rebuild one of the towers and fly a passenger plane into it to see what happens.

  • Comment number 78.

    Its not very often I say this, but this is one issue where I agree with the unions. The curriculum is constantly evolving, so you can't say that the curriculum as it was at a set point in the past is the best model for the future.

    I don't like the governments insistance that only kids who study accademic subjects will go on to do great things. That places no value on students who are giffted in vocational subjects.

    And Michael Gove needs to get his facts right. I went to a state secondry school in the 2000's and we did not just learn about the UK. I remeber KS3 geography leassons where we had to do a project on the impact of the tourism industry on the Balaric Islands, and we did about volcanos in Japan and third world development in Uganda. We did do some stuff about the UK as well. I remeber the project about how and why Milton Keynes was built being very boring indeed. Sorry if anyone from Milton Keynes is reading this, but when you're 14 years old, the post war housing shortage is not the most interesting thing in the world.

  • Comment number 79.

    67. At 2:19pm on 20 Jan 2011, Paul J Weighell wrote:
    Given that under Labour the British exam results seemed only ever to get better yet World authorities now rank UK kids’ math as having plummeted to 28th it seems clear we need something drastic to change.

    Perhaps a few more facts and rather less play-learning waffle about ‘human processes’ and ‘point of view' revisionist history etc. would seem appropriate.

    I am told that 50% + of Chinese students study maths, engineering and the other rigorous subjects at Uni whereas less than 15% are said to study the rigorous subjects in the UK, which bodes badly for our long-term future so it seems we need to start kids on hard objective learning as early as possible.
    ========================
    Depends if you whole purpose in life is to appear high in world league tables in maths.

    Education should be a bit broader than that surely. Life skills (health/environment/culture) and maybe even 'human processes' are rather important.

    Its not all about providing high-calibre cannon fodder for industry and commerce is it?

  • Comment number 80.

    31. At 12:48pm on 20 Jan 2011, yellowsandydog wrote:

    " 2. At 11:51am on 20 Jan 2011, scotty1694 wrote:
    so English is compulsory ?
    id say its a pile of rubbish
    you tell me how writing up coursework on animal farm and reading poems should be compulsory???
    how about teaching something useful?
    id say English is very important but not they way it is at the moment!
    nobody is interested in poems or what message animal farm sends out about pigs etc. you'd get a better response if you asked the kids to read a harry potter book."

    I think you've just shown why it should be compulsory!
    By the way, "Animal Farm" does not send out any message about pigs. It is about politics, socialism, capitalism, prejudice, greed and other aspects of human nature.

    -------------

    really i had no idea (sarcasm)
    yet none of that has anything to do with ENGLISH, you basically just proved my point that the current English curriculum is silly.
    Because i dont put in ,'. if you still cant understand then im afraid its you that needs to go redo english (it changes you know) people now have the intellect to read without grammar because its pointless, something you havent figured out yet. I am well aware its haven't or have not which ever you prefer however in the real world people are not bothered about tiny details anymore its a waste of time.
    have you not noticed for example cursive is now obsolete?

    keep trying to point out flaws instead of trying to validate your own points, youd be a brilliant in labour!

    keep living in the past see where that gets you

  • Comment number 81.

    The never ending saga of political interference in our State education continues. Is it any wonder that the private education sector has thrived and continues to thrive so well in this country. Is it just a coincidence that education and health, micro-managed by the political classes since 1945, are in such a mess.

  • Comment number 82.

    56. At 1:47pm on 20 Jan 2011, Ax0l0tl wrote:

    2. At 11:51am on 20 Jan 2011, scotty1694 wrote:

    so English is compulsory ?

    id say its a pile of rubbish

    you tell me how writing up coursework on animal farm and reading poems should be compulsory???

    how about teaching something useful?

    id say English is very important but not they way it is at the moment!

    nobody is interested in poems or what message animal farm sends out about pigs etc. you'd get a better response if you asked the kids to read a harry potter book.
    -------------------------------------
    Children already read Harry Potter, there is no need to ask them.

    ---------

    well done inspector how on earth did you figure out children read a childrens book?

    honestly....

  • Comment number 83.

    64. At 2:15pm on 20 Jan 2011, Paul wrote:

    31. At 12:48pm on 20 Jan 2011, yellowsandydog wrote:

    I think you've just shown why it should be compulsory!
    By the way, "Animal Farm" does not send out any message about pigs. It is about politics, socialism, capitalism, prejudice, greed and other aspects of human nature."

    Well, I think English should be compulsory, but it should teach grammar and good use of English, and, as far as I am aware, that's not what it teaches at all nowadays.

    (Knowing that "Animal Farm" is about human nature, while interesting, isn't that important for general life. On the other hand decent grammar and spelling is very important for any job involving writing).

    ---------------

    im pretty sure thats what i said but he is to busy trying to look clever and has missed the entire point of the post

  • Comment number 84.

    It is time to stop interfering with the curriculum. So much for giving decision making power to the teachers!

    Steven Quas Collins

  • Comment number 85.

    At 11:59am on 20 Jan 2011, Edwin Schrodinger wrote:

    Let's face it - they can't get any worse after 13 years of Labour blundering. They threw billions at education only to see us slip further and further down the merit tables. A third of school children leave eduction without basic literacy and numeracy skills. Well done Labour!

    I agree that Labour blundered-by failing to get rid of the National Curriculum and its evil offspring of national teaching strategies and SATs testing!! The NC changed teachers from autonomous professionals to mere curriculum operatives subject to tick box inspections from OFSTED designed to keep them compliant.
    You want the educational performance of students to improve? Train teachers rigourously in their subjects and in the art of education then LET THEM GET ON WITH IT. Accountability should come from having to face parents, and PROFESSIONAL inspectors ie ones that come to observe and question with an open mind and no preset aganda

  • Comment number 86.

    69. At 2:25pm on 20 Jan 2011, Steve Edwards wrote:
    ...
    As for "destroying the lives of millions of children", when you go to University at 18+, you are not a child. You are an adult (supposedly) capable of making decisions about the level of debt you wish to incur.
    =======================

    And these young adults will decide not to go to University.
    The current youth unemployment rate (an already disgraceful 20%) will rocket. Great idea.

  • Comment number 87.

    75. At 2:41pm on 20 Jan 2011, kaybraes wrote:
    Biggest problem is allowing the teaching profession any say in what is being taught. They are paid to teach by the taxpayer and should teach what is demanded of them , not what they decide.Since Labour came to power in 1997, the teachers appear to have more and more say in how they teach and exam standards have fallen and prospective employers and indeed universities are wary of claimed academic achievement.
    ========================
    Teachers teach the set curriculum - they dont make it up.

    Stuff prospective employers - this is education not employee training.

  • Comment number 88.

    2. At 11:51am on 20 Jan 2011, scotty1694 wrote:
    so English is compulsory ?

    id say its a pile of rubbish

    you tell me how writing up coursework on animal farm and reading poems should be compulsory???

    how about teaching something useful?

    id say English is very important but not they way it is at the moment!

    nobody is interested in poems or what message animal farm sends out about pigs etc. you'd get a better response if you asked the kids to read a harry potter book.

    ------------------------------------------------------------
    Best bit of satire I've seen on teh BBC in a long time...assuming that's what it was, otherwise it is a sad indictment of educational standards.

  • Comment number 89.

    "2. At 11:51am on 20 Jan 2011, scotty1694 wrote:

    nobody is interested in poems or what message animal farm sends out about pigs etc."

    Ah, yes, what message Animal Farm tells us about "pigs etc".

    I think you've given quite a good reason why it needs teaching.

  • Comment number 90.

    'Facts' should not be taught in any schools at a reasonably high level.

    Anybody can learn 'facts'(not going to get into a philosophical debate here, but I refuse to use the word 'fact' without reservation!), and in an age where information and 'facts' are increasingly easily available, teaching focus should be on the best ways to use those 'facts'.

    How to form logical and sound arguments, how to find out more 'facts' on your own, and how to evaluate conclusions based on your 'facts' are far more useful skills than leaving education knowing the exact dates of the British monarchs.

    But I guess the Tories and their business buddies don't want people thinking for themselves, they want good obedient sheep to leech the cash and labour out of.

  • Comment number 91.

    "Divots wrote: …Kids are getting qualifications in pointless subjects, media studies, sports science, bubblegum chewing, etc."

    Thank you BBC and Divots! Whenever education is a theme, I always search for the words 'media studies'. It's always good to have a laugh at the posters who are so gullible that they not only accept what the rabid right-wing tabloid columnists write, they assume it's common sense, or common knowledge, not realising how daft and ignorant they appear.
    To take your three 'pointless subjects', the third you made up to lend c redibility to the first and second; the second, sports science, I wasn't aware that many scools offered as a subject; but I can see how useful it might be. Do you watch sport or take part? Surely you can see why we need sports science people?
    The first, simply: you don't know what media studies IS, do you? You don't have to admit it on here, but admit it to yourself.

  • Comment number 92.

    It’s quite funny how Gove puts emphasis on the learning of facts, when Eton educated Cameron made the public gaff of not knowing the date that America entered WW2.

    However, this mistake highlights that knowing simple historical facts, though embarrassing if getting them wrong, are not a pre-requisite to most jobs.

  • Comment number 93.

    Will revision of the school curriculum improve standards?
    Education Secretary Michael Gove has said he wants more "facts" in England's national curriculum, as he launches a review of what children are taught. Do you welcome the review?

    Yet another lot of political interfearance into the National carriculum that will create even more problems and frustration for the teaching of pupils throughout the UK.

    One just has to ask why? Why can't the ruddy politicians leave education alone, or is this going to be an attempt to erase some aspects of History - the holocaust in the second world war, because it offends some other members of another religion who say it never happened?

    Leave education to the people who teach and are qualified in that aspect, the last thing we want is someone qualified in history teaching maths, now who could that be, I wonder, not the chancellor surely?

  • Comment number 94.

    Education Secretaries have been here today gone tomorrow since the early 1980’s. With each new Secretary we see a raft of changes to how our children are taught. No thought is paid to the disruption these continual changes are causing to the education system. Teachers are not given the chance to build proper systems to manage one set of changes before the next set of changes is put in place by the Secretary of State. Then the very same Secretaries of State blame the schools for the falling standards. They need to wake up and smell the coffee; the reason for the falling standards is that our teachers are fully occupied in managing change instead of teaching our children. You look at countries with better educational standards than us, what you will see is stability in their education systems.

    Q. What do you think of the reduction of the school curriculum?
    A. I have always thought that the curriculum was too prescriptive since the Thatcher government took the decision of what was taught in schools away from schools and local authorities and placed them at the hands of the Secretary of State.

    Q. What improvements would you like to see to the education system?
    A. Less government changes to allow teachers to concentrate their efforts on teaching.

    Q. What subjects would you like to see taught?
    A. Obviously English Language, Mathematics, then as it was when I was a school kid, depending on my career plan and ability what subjects are agreed by consultation between teachers and parents/guardians of the child.

    Q. Are you a parent or teacher?
    A. Both


  • Comment number 95.

    `Revision´. Isn´t that what you do just before exams to make sure you know the stuff? Do you mean `Changing the school curriculum...´?
    Standards will improve ONLY if teaching and the demands made of the children are more rigorous.

  • Comment number 96.

    Fact according to whom?
    Better to teach children to deduce what is fact for themselves. You only have to listen to politicians to understand that one person’s fact is one persons lie. Sometimes what one politician considers a fact today they will consider a lie tomorrow. In countries were we have seen genocides, governments have promoted as fact lies about sections of the communities in order to foster hatred between communities. So we need to be very very careful about decide what is fact or not fact.

  • Comment number 97.

    68. At 2:23pm on 20 Jan 2011, Davestargalactica wrote:

    Lets just hope Mr Gove adds "Britain during the 1980's" to the history syllabus, then no one will ever vote conservative again..."

    Or "Britain during the 1970's" if you want to stop people voting Labour...

  • Comment number 98.

    Let's face it, after 13 years of socialist lunacy, this country turns out school leavers who are illiterate, inarticulate, with the inter personal skills of a zombie and a work ethic to match.

    We need to turn the clocks back fifty years in terms of education. Alot more emphasis on discipline, turn out and moral fibre is what's needed. Filling childrens' heads full of "right on", left wing clap-trap should be consigned to the dustbin.

  • Comment number 99.

    All the curriculum changes in the world will not change the lack of interest in learning shown by many youngsters today.

  • Comment number 100.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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