LET our teachers teach.
That was the blunt message today from Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman as an influential Westminster committee urged massive changes to the national curriculum in our schools.
Ministers have too much control over the curriculum, effectively turning schooling into a “franchise operation”, MPs warned..
Teachers have been “de-skilled” and “de-motivated” by high levels of prescription and guidance handed down from central government.
A report by the Commons schools select committee, chaired by Mr Sheerman, called for the national curriculum to be “slimmed-down” and for a cap to be put on the amount of teaching time it accounts for.
At the moment, the curriculum is too crowded, with different groups lobbying to ensure their subject is included, it said.
Mr Sheerman said the main message of the report is that the curriculum must be “simple, and more coherent.”
He said: “We need to trust schools and teachers more and empower teachers to do what they do best.
“There is a regrettable tendency for governments to make continual changes to the structure and framework of the curriculum.
“Ministerial meddling must stop and we require the Government to establish the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA) with full independence, reporting to Parliament through the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee.”
The report adds that “the bloated nature of the current National Curriculum also stems from excessive ad hoc changes, which have often stemmed from the particular priorities of successive ministers.”
The report said that all schools should only be required to follow a national curriculum in the core subjects of English, maths, science and information and communication technology (ICT) – a freedom currently only extended to the Government’s flagship academies.
The main purpose of a national curriculum is to set out the minimum entitlement for every child, the cross-party group of MPs said.
Therefore as little as possible should be prescribed, and decisions on anything that is mandatory should be taken as close to school level as possible, rather than by central government.
The report, on the current state of the national curriculum said: “At times schooling has appeared more of a franchise operation, dependent on a recipe handed-down by Government rather than the exercise of professional expertise by teachers.”