Academics attack Gove's 'mountain of data' curriculum

Michael Gove The criticism of Mr Gove's policy comes two days after two teaching unions announced a series of strikes

A group of academics has attacked Education Secretary Michael Gove's new national curriculum as "endless lists of spellings, facts and rules".

In a letter published in the Independent newspaper, 100 experts said the new curriculum in England would "severely erode educational standards".

The group said it was "narrow" and did not develop pupils' ability to think.

The Department for Education said it was based on "careful analysis" of the world's most successful school systems.

The criticism of Mr Gove's policy comes two days after two teaching unions announced a series of strikes in a row over, pay, pensions and workload.

Schools across the country are likely to be affected by the rolling programme of walkouts by members of the the National Union of Teachers and the NASUWT, along with a national strike before Christmas.

'Demands too much'

The signatories of the curriculum letter, which include professors from Nottingham Trent, Leeds Metropolitan, Oxford and Bristol universities, said children would have to learn mountains of detail for English, maths and science without understanding it.

They also said the curriculum changes betrayed a serious distrust in teachers.

The letter said: "This mountain of data will not develop children's ability to think, including problem-solving, critical understanding and creativity.

"Much of [the proposed curriculum] demands too much too young. This will put pressure on teachers to rely on rote learning without understanding.

"Inappropriate demands will lead to failure and demoralisation. The learner is largely ignored."

It added: "This curriculum betrays a serious distrust of teachers, in its amount of detailed instructions, and the education secretary has repeatedly ignored expert advice."

'More freedom'

But a spokesman for the DfE said: "The distinction made by the signatories between knowledge and skills is a false dichotomy.

"The new curriculum is based on careful analysis of the world's most successful school systems. We are giving schools more freedom over the curriculum and teaching - not less.

"We are reforming the exam system to test deeper cognitive skills such as mathematical problem-solving and extended writing, which are neglected now, but these skills do not exist in a vacuum and depend on solid foundations."

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said: "Yet again Michael Gove's back-of-an-envelope plans have been criticised by experts.

"We need to ensure young people have the knowledge and skills for the modern world of work. Going back to an outdated, narrow curriculum will damage our future economic prospects."

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