Head attacks Gove reforms

Andy Mellor, headteacher at St Nicholas Primary School.

Andy Mellor, headteacher at St Nicholas Primary School.

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PROPOSED changes to the national curriculum have been slammed by a Blackpool headteacher who says the Government should “leave teachers to get on with teaching”.

Andy Mellor, headteacher at St Nicholas Primary School, spoke out as education secretary Michael Gove announced his revised curriculum this week.

The Department for Education says it wants to “restore rigour in what primary school children are taught”.

As part of the changes, proposed for September 2014, there will be an extra focus on maths and pupils will be expected to know their 12 times table by the age of nine.

Modern foreign languages will be introduced to children in primary school and they will also be expected to recite poetry.

The current system of levels used for Sats tests and measuring pupils’ progress could also be axed as part of the changes.

But the latest shake-up is part of a long line of changes which distract staff according to Mr Mellor, (above), who is also Blackpool’s representative from the National Association of Headteachers.

He said: “We had a new inspection framework in January, another one is due in September and here’s yet another change to the curriculum.

“It’s time to leave the teaching profession to get on with teaching.

“If there was some consistency in schools, it would be easier to raise standards.”

Mr Mellor has welcomed the plan to introduce foreign modern languages to children from the age of seven but believes resources will need to be put into schools to make this possible.

The rest of the plans offer “little that is new” however.

He added: “Schools teach how to add, subtract, multiply and divide – and within that times tables - as part of the existing curriculum so there is nothing new here.

“I also wonder how Mr Gove expects forcing children to memorise poetry will contribute to a love of reading.

“Children need to have the wonder of it explained by skilled teachers rather than repeating what may seem meaningless text.

“I fail to see how this approach raises standards.”

The Government say the curriculum has been designed to be more demanding than the existing one.

It has studied education systems across the world including Hong Kong, Singapore and America for examples of good practice.

But this too is not focusing on the needs of children, according to Mr Mellor.

He added: “Mr Gove has cherry picked what fits with current Government ideology not what’s best for our children.

“Singapore and Hong Kong are among the best systems in the world but they are culturally very different and also have the highest rate of teenage suicides.

“Finland is high achieving and has raised standards without reciting poetry and an obsession with synthetic phonics.

“It has been ignored however, as it has no inspection and no league tables – so doesn’t fit Mr Gove’s plans.”