Education & Family

National curriculum revamp: Your comments

Pupils in London
Image caption Mr Gove said the curriculum should reflect the "essential knowledge" that children should learn

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.

The review may opt for fewer compulsory subjects, with ministers specifying only four that must be studied.

Teachers and parents have been sending their comments about the proposals:

Teachers

Why are there no serving/current teachers or indeed current students on the "review panel"? Doomed to failure! Yet again! David, Sheffield

Ms Keates has previously been described as "the changing face of educational trades unionism". (Guardian 2006). But I was disappointed to read her response to the present government's plans on curriculum reform, specifically her comments of "pointless" and (negative connotation) "...a return to a 1950s-style curriculum". In my view, as a former member of one half of her union, the underlying values, if not the details, of such a curriculum are precisely what is required today. Michael Knight, Switzerland

As a trainee ICT teacher, I am wondering if I should just return to my well paid industry role. It's looking like Mr Gove has decided that our children know enough about ICT from using Facebook and MSN, and that businesses need them to be able to recite the kings and queens in order whenever they are asked to compile a report on this quarter's sales figures. Simon Clawson, Milton Keynes

I have been teaching history in secondary schools for 15 years. I object to Mr Gove's proposals, and the arrogance with which he has dismissed the efforts of thousands of hard working teachers, who work in the interests of the children in their care, rather than advancing a political career. It's a huge mistake to emphasise the teaching of facts over skills. At best, teaching history will amount to a delivery of meaningless dates, names and numbers which have to be learned by rote. High attainers will be those who are best at memory games. At worst, facts can be misinterpreted to support a range of spiteful and dangerous ideas and attitudes. Without the ability to question, interpret, analyse and evaluate students miss the whole point about the study of history. History changes, it's alive, it's controversial, it's powerful (and dangerous) and, God forbid, it can be fun. Then again, there are certain advantages in "de-skilling" our children. Teachers won't need to worry about developing our pupils' thinking skills. And a future generation of adults won't be able to ask difficult questions or critically assess the performance of future Tory education ministers. Greame Johnston, East Grinstead

I am very concerned that there seems to be no inclusion of any form of creative education. This country excels in the teaching of arts. As a retired art teacher, I wonder where the next generation of designers is going to come from. Nearly every article that people pick up and use in their daily lives has been designed by someone who went to art school. Good design is what sells anything from a chair to a greetings card. The UK has an excellent world wide reputation for design and it brings in money. James Dyson is a graduate of Industrial Design at the Royal College of Art - to give just one, well known product of a creative education. Mr Gove is making some rather big mistakes. His idea of education comes from the 1950s grammar school and will not meet the needs of either society or the majority of children today. Not all children are academic and a major concern of educators is keeping vulnerable children in school. If you offer this menu of subjects, you will find truancy rates increasing and more disaffected students leaving with fewer qualifications. This will have a knock on effect in the future as we have to pay out more benefits. JM, Northants

I am currently in my second year at university, studying to be a secondary school Geography teacher. As part of our course we have to look at changes in the curriculum and the way teaching has changed in recent years. I feel that geography covers a wide range of countries and topics, with most having to include a comparison between an MEDC (More Economically Developed Country, such as the UK) and an LEDC (Less Economically Developed Country, such as Bangladesh) and don't simply cover the UK as suggested. I feel that Geography and other subjects like history, should be kept as compulsory for as long as possible, as they teach students about the acceptance of other cultures and people, and help to explain why the world is the way it is. Renowned educational influence Paulo Freire said that children should be taught "the world" as well as "the word" meaning that education must include reference to why the world is the way it is. Amy Lucas, Sunderland

Parents

As a parent who has opted out of the system entirely, a simplified required curriculum would be a good thing because it might give teachers the freedom to teach and pass on the joy of learning instead of being bogged down in trivial details to comply with the rules. Those complaining that the approach takes us back in time should go compare exam papers and see that the quality of questions and expectation of understanding, as opposed to rote knowledge of the test, was far higher back then. Perhaps there will be chance to have proper science put back into the science subjects. Dave, Cambridge

I would prefer to see a return to 1950s style education with compulsory subjects: English, maths, science, history, geography and PE. I do not consider PHSE necessary. I also think RE should be taught by parents or as an "after school" subject. I want primary schools to spend more time on maths and English especially comprehension and creative writing. My child's school sets the spelling sentences every week and after four years of that every week my child is bored. Teachers need to be more imaginative and creative. Alison Wright, London

How about foreign languages? Why can't our children start learning a foreign language at four, like pupils in private schools? We all know that learning one or more foreign languages opens up a whole new world of employment opportunities, not only in the UK but also abroad. Helena, Manchester

The growing exclusion of the arts, specifically drama, will only bring the achievement levels of our children down. Drama in education should be compulsory because it has the ability to engage all students. This developing sense of top down education will only succeed in alienating many students who need drama to stimulate their minds and education. Tom Edge, London

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