Major reforms to schooling under a new national curriculum unveiled by the Government have been given a mixed response by Fylde education leaders.
Under the new curriculum, details of which were revealed by Education Secretary Michael Gove yesterday, ~ pupils will begin learning about fractions in their first year of school, while primaries will be expected to give lessons on evolution and computer programming.
Robotics, strengthening knowledge of Shakespeare and computer algorithms are also on the agenda.
The changes will affect children aged five to 14 in state run schools but free schools and academies will not be required to follow it. The changes are due to come into effect from September 2014.
Education Secretary Mr Gove has said the changes are necessary to bring the country in line with pupils from other countries, adding what is happening abroad has been factored into the new curriculum. Changes to areas such as history and design technology have been welcomed by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), which added it is pleased teachers were listened to in the Government’s consultations on draft plans.
John Topping, acting headteacher at Blackpool’s Collegiate High School, also gave the new curriculum a tentative welcome, adding: “The ‘best of the old’ I hope will include times tables, fractions and mental arithmetic being mastered in primary school so that high school can then develop specialisms in line with ‘the best of the new’.”
But concerns have been raised by unions, particularly about whether the new curriculum can be implemented from Autumn 2014.
Sam Ud-din, secretary for the Lancashire branch of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: “Our basic concern is there’s no commitment that all these changes will be resourced. If you’re going to change ICT in primary schools that haven’t got the equipment or trained staff to teach it, how are you going to teach that?”
‘Another straw on the camel’s back’ - union
One Lancashire teaching union claims Michael Gove’s new curriculum is “another straw on the camel’s back” for teachers.
Sam Ud-din, secretary for the Lancashire branch of the NUT, said: “The response from teachers is this is another straw on the camel’s back. I’m hearing from more and more teachers there’s no way they can carry on.”
John Girdley, of the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers said history teachers in his union have already questioned the idea of focusing on facts more than encouraging children to be analytical.
He added: “I worry we’re getting more central control of what teachers do, trying to enforce a very narrow curriculum.”