To: Michael Gove: Secretary of State for Education

Re-formulate the proposed new National Curriculum (Primary)

Re-formulate the proposed new National Curriculum (Primary)

Dear Secretary of State,

We believe that the proposed new National Curriculum is not fit for children, teachers or for education in the 21st Century. To maintain successful learning and the well-being of our children and their teachers, we demand that the curriculum is re-formulated. In the interests of democracy we urge the DfE to show greater respect for a wider range of stakeholders and their existing knowledge and expertise during this process.

Sue Cox (University of East Anglia)

Supported by:
Association for the Study of Primary Education
National Association for Primary Education

Why is this important?

We believe that the new proposals for the National Curriculum (Primary) 2014 are not fit for children, teachers or education in the 21st Century and must be re-formulated. We believe that the present proposals demonstrate a lack of respect for and trust in the experience and expertise of the teaching profession, parents/carers and children themselves.

We believe that the proposals contradict the stated intentions. We agree that certain items may be worthwhile (especially where experts from Subject Associations have had an input). Overall, however, there is a lack of rationale and coherence. There has been insufficient consultation on aims, from which principled curriculum design may flow. Aims and underlying values have not been well articulated.

This is not a curriculum that will raise standards. The proposals overall do not take sufficient account of what is known about how children learn. They do not allow sufficiently for individual differences. They may appear to be demanding and yet, in many respects, are superficial. Specifying a great deal that must be taught cannot ensure that children will be able to learn this content in a meaningful way.

There is an over-emphasis on knowledge as received ideas and information, rather than collaborative, creative, higher order, disciplined thinking and reasoning. We are concerned that children will not be engaging in deep learning that meets their individual needs and challenges their thinking. Instead, the expectations are that they will perform in response to very specific demands. We believe that this will lead to failure and increased disadvantage for many children.

We believe that the overly detailed and prescriptive content in the core subjects of English, Maths and Science will destroy the possibilities for breadth and balance in the primary curriculum and there will be insufficient room for other valued areas of learning.

We believe that the proposals invite a simplistic approach to assessment. We are concerned that assessment arrangements (not yet published) will be target driven. We believe this will create a risk to children’s education and well-being. This is a very real risk. There is already evidence in public sector services of the damage that can be caused by over-emphasis on the achievement of targets.

More respect needs to be shown for the way the National Curriculum has evolved since 1988 and what has been learned through the enormous efforts and experience of teachers; children; researchers; educationalists and policy makers.

Reasons for signing

  • I think the curriculum being taught at present is putting too much pressure on children, parents and teachers. The expectations are too high and one size fits all approach does not take into account individual's abilities. My child who is in year R has unbelievable amount of homework to do every night. The English and Maths they are being taught is way more than they are capable of. I am worried that they are going to be put off by learning. This government needs to get real.
  • The curriculum is deeply unpopular with parents, teachers and ultimately the children. Its hard to encourage our children (without pressure), they express thoughts of 'we don't like learning, don't like pages of writing/tests) I only like writing at home'. Children that are not ready particularly in Yr 1, feel the pressure, show resistance, comment that its not fun, have headaches and are tired. Parents are worried. The evidence of how detrimental this curriculum is, is right here.
  • Its ridiculously boring.