Review of Cultural Education – Call for Evidence

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Education have launched an independent review, to be led by Darren Henley MD of Classic FM, to consider how all children can experience a high quality cultural education.

Darren Henley welcomes views from teachers, parents and pupils as well as individuals and organisations involved in delivering the whole spectrum of cultural education to young people in England.

You can respond to the call for evidence online at:

Use of pens in written exams ‘cannot go on’

Interesting premise here – that, in an age of technological advancement and communication, the examinations system needs to reflect this:

The days of using pens and paper in exams must be brought to an end, the head of the country’s exams watchdog, says today.

 Isabel Nisbet, chief executive of Ofqual, said that if school exams did not go online soon, exam preparation “will become a separate thing to learning” for candidates brought up on computers.

Read more in the Independent, 25th February 2011

Education Bill

A new age dawns as Gove’s Education Bill comes into being. Some significant changes ahead for all aspects of the education system as we know it.

Appearing in the Bill, some significant actions relating to: Early years provision, discipline, the School workforce, Qualifications and the Curriculum, Educational institutions: other provisions, Academies, Post-16 education and training and Student finance.

Check out the following links for further information and summaries of the Bill’s key content:

Secondary phonics

In its report ‘Removing barriers to literacy’ Ofsted concludes that secondary schools should continue with the systematic phonic teaching that primaries do so well. According to the report, many older students are falling behind with their literacy skills and this is attributed in part to a lack of post-primary phonics.

Other barriers include missing assessment data for year 7 students, insufficiently challenging targets being set, and, in some schools, a culture of poor behaviour. The report states that those from poorer backgrounds, and white British boys in particular, continue to generally underachieve in relation to their peers.

Ofsted: older pupils falter without phonics (TES)
Removing barriers to literacy (Ofsted report)

National Curriculum Review


Michael Gove launched his review of the national curriculum this week with a focus firmly on the need for learning ‘facts’. He claims that there is currently too much attention paid to teaching methods rather than subject content. However he is ‘not going to be coming up with any prescriptive lists’ for teachers … he just thinks ‘there should be facts’ to equip students for the ‘knowledge industries of the future.’

Mr Gove also says that the new national curriculum should ’embody for all children in England their cultural and scientific inheritance, enhance their understanding of the world around them and introduce them to the best that has been thought and written.’

Concerns have been expressed by opponents to the review who worry that proposals will subject children to a ‘1950s-style curriculum.’ Mary Boustead, general secretary of ATL, warns that ‘subjects and skills taught in schools should not be based on ministers’ pet interests.’

Gove stresses ‘facts’ in school curriculum revamp (BBC)

National curriculum review puts emphasis on facts (The Guardian)

School curriculum gets back to facts and figures (The Independent)

The English Baccalaureate

The introduction of the new English Baccalaureate (via the recently published government White Paper) has met with mixed reactions. Some consider it to be a step in the right direction in terms of putting the English education system back on the global map, whilst others feel it is move too far towards an ‘academic’ schools culture which simply does not cater for the needs of many pupils.

Read more:

Michael Gove speech (in which he refers to his vision for education as we enter the new year, and makes reference to the English Bacc)

Pupils fail to hit new academic targets – The Independent

Retrofitting new measures onto league tables has angered headteachers – The Guardian

The flaw in Michael Gove’s league tables – The Guardian

The Guardian, key headlines on the English Bacc

The Importance of Teaching



Education Secretary Michael Gove has set out a radical reform programme  in the schools White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, published yesterday. It outlines the department’s plans, which amount to the biggest reforms for 20 years.

The DfE website has more information about the paper and the issues which it addresses.

This article in today’s Independent contains a useful summary of the key proposals.

Ministers urged to focus on quality of teaching

Ministers should focus more on improving the existing teaching workforce than on recruiting new teachers to the profession, research suggests today.

 A study by the think-tank Reform says ministers should do away with regulations which prevent schools from improving the quality of teaching themselves. It calls for workforce agreements to be scrapped, with heads given the right to set pay and conditions for staff, and reward those that perform well.

 Read more