The meaning of Gove

In a letter to The Independent and The Daily Telegraph this week, a hundred education academics criticised Michael Gove’s controversial new curriculum proposals as an “endless list of spelling, facts and rules” that will prove “miserable for children". Left Foot Forward has looked at some of the changes to the school curriculum proposed by Michael Gove and the criticism they’ve received.

In a letter to The Independent and The Daily Telegraph this week, a hundred education academics criticised Michael Gove’s controversial new curriculum proposals as an “endless list of spelling, facts and rules” that will prove “miserable for children”.

But what was it they were actually criticising?

Left Foot Forward has looked at some of the changes to the school curriculum proposed by Michael Gove and the panning they’ve been subjected to by academics.

MATHS

By the age of seven the education secretary wants pupils to be able interpret simple graphs and know their two, five and ten time’s tables.

At nine students should be able to read years in Roman numerals as well as know their twelve times tables, and by the time pupils leave primary school they should be comfortable with fractions, decimals, multiplication and division.

Criticism

The policy has been criticised for its emphasis on rote learning which, according to leading academics, demands “too much, too soon” of pupils.

ENGLISH

Gove wants more emphasis on spelling, grammar and punctuation which he argues are the “solid foundations” of cognitive skills. From the age of nine he wants children to be able to recite poetry out loud.

Criticism

This “narrow” approach has been attacked by the hundred rebel academics because are worried it will “leave little space for other learning” such as “speaking, listening, drama and modern media”.

SCIENCE

By eleven the curriculum proposes children should fully understand the effects of drugs and gauge the importance of diet and exercise – something at present deemed appropriate only for secondary school pupils.

HISTORY

The teaching of history in the curriculum has been met with almost universal dubiety by academics. Gove wants history to taught as “our islands story” and founded on “how the British people shaped this nation and how Britain influenced the world”.

Pupils would learn the chronology of British history from the stone age right through to the study of influential enlightenment thinkers such as Adam Smith and John Locke (but it would exclude thinkers such as Voltaire and Rousseau) all the way through the two world wars and the modern era ending with Margaret Thatcher’s election victory in 1979.

Criticism

The idea has been slammed by academics as an Anglo-centric “patriotic stocking filler” that will result in “the dumbing down of teaching”.

LANGUAGES

Gove is reintroducing compulsory languages in schools after the Labour government ditched the policy in 2004. From the age of seven children will begin learning a language, selecting either French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, Greek or Latin.

Criticism

There is broad consensus on reintroducing the learning of languages at a young age. Stephen Twigg, the Labour shadow education secretary, has recently backed the initiative.

What do you think? Are the academics right, or is Gove?

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