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Topic: United Kingdom: Teachers Speak Out Re: Curr. Reform
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
United Kingdom: Teachers Speak Out Re: Curr. Reform
Posted: Apr 15, 2013 11:45 AM
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From The Independent [United Kingdom], Monday, April 15, 2013. See
. Our thanks to Brian ______ (don't have last name) for bringing this
piece to our attention.
Teachers speak out against Michael Gove's 'lists of facts' curriculum

By Richard Garner

More than 2,000 teachers have put their names to a petition
condemning Michael Gove's proposed national curriculum reforms.

The unprecedented grass-roots revolt by teachers comes after 100
leading academics signed a letter to The Independent savaging the new
curriculum's obsession with "lists of facts".

The teachers' main concerns are over the contents and direction of
the new curriculum - specifically its return to more rigid rote
learning - and what they perceive as Mr Gove's dismissive attitude
towards his critics,

They are also angry at the restricted consultation period over the
proposals of just over two months - which expires on Tuesday.

The petition, which started as an informal post on one teacher's
blog, will be presented to MPs and members of the Commons education
select committee in Westminster tomorrow.

Debra Kidd, a Manchester secondary school teacher who launched the
petition, said those who had signed were "tired of a 'yadda yadda'
approach" being adopted by Mr Gove to those who disagreed with his

Mr Gove used the dismissive expression "yadda yadda" to reject
criticisms on a recent BBC Question Time.

"They are astonished that a man appointed to serve the education
system behaves like a child who has not yet learned to listen and
respect boundaries," Ms Kidd added.

The blog has attracted 2,000 signatures within a few days, and an
influx of teachers is expected tomorrow as many return to their
classrooms after the Easter break.

Signatories include many from independent schools, the Government's
flagship academies, primary and secondary schools and even a teacher
in one of the Government's new free schools.

The response shows the growing rift between the Government and the
teaching profession over a raft of proposals including curriculum
reform, plans to scrap annual pay increments for teachers (which have
prompted strike calls by the two biggest teachers' unions), exam
reforms which will see restrictions on resits at GCSE and A-level,
and new tests for six and 11-year-olds which have prompted demands
for a boycott.

Concern over the national curriculum grew with the publication of the
academics' letter, which claimed that under the proposals children
would be subjected to learning "endless list of spellings, facts and

At the National Union of Teachers' conference a fortnight ago,
delegates said pupils would become bored with education as a result -
and truancy would rise.

Mr Gove's response to the academics was to ask what planet they were
on, adding: "A Red Planet if their published work is anything to go
by." He also referred to them as "bad academics" and "The Blob" -
"the network of educational gurus in and around our universities who
praised each other's work, sat on committees that drafted politically
correct curricula, drew gifted young teachers away from their
vocation and instead directed them towards ideologically driven

Ms Kidd, who is studying for a doctorate at Manchester Metropolitan
University and was also a signatory of the original letter, said on
her blog: "We do not oppose the acquisition of knowledge. Nor do we
oppose the idea all children should succeed.

"We question the wisdom of the decontextualised testing of knowledge
and the notion that there should be high-stakes testing in which
children's futures become fixed once and for all."

The petition already has the backing of many teachers' leaders,
particularly the NUT. One of the signatories is Alex Kenny, who
chairs the union's education committee.

Ms Kidd acknowledged that she could not be sure that every person who
had signed the petition was currently involved in education, but an
analysis by The Independent found the vast majority were serving
teachers. Some others were retired teachers, or consultants who had
previously worked as teachers.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said of the proposals:
"We are giving every school more freedom and trusting teachers to use
their creativity to shape the curriculum to the needs of their
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

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