Richard Garner, via a kind reader’s email:
A devastating attack on what is taught in primary schools is delivered today by the biggest inquiry into the sector for more than 40 years.
Too much stress is being placed on the three Rs, imposing a curriculum on primary school pupils that is “even narrower than that of the Victorian elementary schools”, it says. The inquiry is recommending sweeping changes to stop children being left disenchanted by schooling at an early age.
Children should not start formal schooling until the age of six – in line with other European countries – the 600-page report on the future of primary education recommends. It was produced by a team directed by Robin Alexander of Cambridge University.
Tests for 11-year-olds and league tables based on them should be scrapped, and instead children should be assessed in every subject they take at 11.
The report is heavily critical of successive Conservative and Labour governments for dictating to teachers how they should do their jobs. Professor Alexander cites “more than one” Labour education secretary saying that primary schools should be teaching children to “read, write and add up properly” – leaving the rest of education to secondary schools. “It is not good enough to say we want high standards in the basics but we just have to take our chance with the rest,” said Professor Alexander.