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National Curriculum is too 'bloated', says MP.

Byline: JONATHANWALKER

The National Curriculum should be cut back to give schools more control over what they teach in the classroom, according to a West Midlands MP.

Lynda Waltho (Lab, Stourbridge) was one of the authors of a report warning that the "bloated" National Curriculum had left teachers "de-skilled" and "demotivated".

The MP, who was a teacher for 12 years before entering politics, said too many subjects had been included.

She is a member of the Commons Children, Schools and Families Committee, which has published the results of an inquiry into the national curriculum.

Ms Waltho said: "I was a teacher when much of the National Curriculum was introduced, and we needed it at the time..

"There were children coming to our school who had studied Roman history five times in different classes, and nothing else. We needed to have some way of making sure key subjects and skills were taught.

"But the curriculum has become too packed. Every specialist has drawn up a list of things that they think should be included, and it gets added in.

"We've also had new topics such as citizenship studies and first aid added, and while it's good that they are taught in schools the result has been that there's simply too much." The committee's report warned 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." It said all schools should only be required to follow a national curriculum in the core subjects of English, maths, science and information and communication technology - a freedom currently only extended to academies.

The report said: "At times schooling has appeared more of a franchise operation, dependent on a recipe handeddown by Government rather than the exercise of professional expertise by teachers." Schools Minister Sarah McCarthy-Fry insisted it was important to impose minimum standards on schools.

She said: "No one wants to go back to the days where there were no minimum national standards for what children were taught and parents had no idea what was going on in classes.

"It is down to teachers to use their professional judgments in designing their own lessons around the core, statutory curriculum. " Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: "The Government should stop meddling and trust teachers. Instead of producing endless guidance, and collecting streams of daft data, the Government should encourage local professional decision-making based on meaningful research and support teachers in sharing effective teaching practices." Liberal Democrat schools spokesman David Laws said: "This report confirms that the National Curriculum is stifling teachers who want to give young people a broad education. There is a glaring inconsistency in Government policy which allows academies more freedom over the curriculum while denying it to the majority of schools."" The curriculum has become too packed LYNDA WALTHO MP

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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 3, 2009
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