Curriculums

Schools should brace for five years of upheaval from a triumphant party with Gove at its heart | Melissa Benn | Education

The election campaign is now in a bygone decade but we are still not much clearer about what the Tories have in store for education over the next five years. The relevant section of the Conservative manifesto was, at just 646 words, deliberately vague, and seemed oriented towards perceived Labour policy weaknesses – on Ofsted and discipline – rather than on any real plans for education. Not a word on the future use of the pupil premium, nor the burden…

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British girls have finally made the global top table … for fear of failure. How terrifying | Laura McInerney | Education

Last year, in randomly selected school halls across the country, Britain pitted its 15-year-olds in an academic competition of wits against children from 79 other countries. The Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) tests have taken place across the globe every three years since 2000, and a country’s score is often used to boast about its smartness (or otherwise). The results this year showed the United Kingdom has finally made it into the top five. But our standout statistic isn’t…

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Tate and Steve McQueen call for ‘arts-rich’ school curriculum | Education

Access to the visual arts will be a preserve of privately educated children unless the government takes urgent action to improve the school curriculum, the director of Tate, Maria Balshaw, and the artist Steve McQueen have warned. Tate has joined forces with McQueen and 35 museums and galleries across the country to complain that the curriculum in England is failing children. They are calling for an “arts-rich curriculum” as a “lasting legacy” for McQueen’s hugely popular school photo project which…

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Populism has no place in education – so stop bashing Germans and private schools | Laura McInerney | Education

We live in complicated times. Prorogations. Constitutional crises. It is not surprising, therefore, that the government wants to talk to the public about simple things that “make sense”. Unfortunately, the education policies of the two main(ish) political parties may be feeding the anxious political climate. Take the battle cry of the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, who has set a target that vocational education in Britain will “overtake Germany” in the next decade. It is not clear what he means, but…

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Where will our working-class playwrights come from, now the arts have been sidelined? | Selina Todd | Education

The playwright Shelagh Delaney shot to fame when her debut work, A Taste of Honey, first performed in 1958, turned into a runaway success. She was just 19. The play told the story of a single mother, Helen, and her teenage daughter, Jo, who wanted more from life than marriage and motherhood in the slums. It has rarely been off the stage since and is currently being revived in a National Theatre tour. Fascinated by the work and its Salford-born…

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Politically literate citizens seem to be a problem for Michael Gove | Laura McInerney | Education

From the vast compendium of Michael Gove’s arrogant moments as education secretary one has been on my mind these last few weeks. He was never a fan of citizenship as a subject – the one that teaches children the rules of democracy – and, once in office, set out to slim the curriculum and get rid of “political fads”. You know, such as teaching young people the rules politicians must follow even when their plans are fading in front of…

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Ofsted chief: pupils’ wellbeing at risk as sport is squeezed out of schools | Education

The Ofsted chief inspector has called on the government to do more to increase sport in schools amid growing concern that physical education is being squeezed out of the curriculum as a result of funding cuts and excessive focus on exam results. Amanda Spielman told the Observer it was essential that ministers and school leaders acted to show they understood what should be obvious – that sport and exercise for young people were vital parts of a full and balanced…

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Forest schools: is yours more a marketing gimmick than an outdoors education? | Education

Ash trees rustle in the breeze while beneath them muddy children run free, collecting leaves and searching for bugs in the shadows. This must be a forest school. Or is it? According to academics in a book, Critical Issues in Forest Schools, to be published next month, there is a high probability that it is not a forest school as, it says, large numbers of nurseries, primaries and secondaries are falsely claiming claim to be one. The forest school movement,…

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Dear Damian Hinds, let’s put horrid adult experiences on the curriculum | Michael Rosen | Education

I see you’ve been talking to school students about education. I was very interested in your justification for exams being stressful: “…when you leave school, hard and stressful things come along. Learning about what can be stressful episodes is part of the preparation for later life.” I wonder if there is a principle here: whatever horrible experience we have in later life should either be put on the school curriculum or be part of how the curriculum is taught. For…

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Fear of LGBT-inclusive lessons harks back to 80s, says Peter Tatchell | Education

Peter Tatchell knows exactly who is responsible for the recent protests about relationships and sex education outside primary school gates: it’s the government’s fault, he says. “To its credit, the government has spoken out in defence of LGBT+ inclusive lessons – but it hasn’t backed this up with explicit, concrete guidance to schools about what they can and should do,” says the veteran gay rights campaigner. With religious extremists trying to “hijack the issue”, a culture of fear around mentioning…

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