Cambridge Primary Review - a brief guide to key points

16 Oct 2009

 The final report of the Cambridge Primary Review - Children, their World, their Education - is published this morning. 

The 600 page report makes 75 recommendations for future policy and practice.

 It’s probably fair to say that this is the biggest review of primary education in England since the Plowden Report was published in 1967. It has taken three years to produce and has amassed a huge amount of evidence. 

 Although it’s unofficial – and much of it won’t please either the government or the Tories – its influence is likely to be felt in the long term, even though it probably won’t lead to much in the way of immediate government action.
 The Review has many themes, including saying that:
  • Primary schools need to escape their Victorian past (characterised by relatively low funding compared to secondary schools, over-reliance on generalist teachers, often poor facilities, and an archaic school year etc).
  • The ‘politicisation’ of primary education has ‘gone too far’ and should be reversed.
  • The crude polarisation between traditional and progressive teaching is unhelpful.
 Some of the key points include (the numbers in brackets relate to paragraph numbering in Chapter 24: 'Conclusionsand Recommendations’)
  • End school league tables (73).
  • Replace current SATs tests at age 11 with new form of assessment which goes wider than just narrow aspects of Maths and English and which involve less disruption (71).
  • The government’s current Literacy and Numeracy hours should be reintegrated into broader maths and English lessons (51).
  • Government should stop telling teachers how to teach – ‘teaching should be taken out of the political arena and given back to teachers’(59).
  • The national curriculum should take up just 70% of time with a ‘community curriculum’ - set locally – for the remaining 30% (47).
  • The curriculum should comprise 8 ‘domains’: arts and creativity; citizenship and ethics; faith and belief; language, oracy and literacy; mathematics; physical and emotional health; place and time; science and technology. N.B. This does not mean that kids would be timetabled to do ‘oracy’ instead of English or ‘place’ instead of geography but that this is how the teaching would be shaped! (47,48)
  • There should be more use of specialist subject teachers in the upper primary years. (128)
  • Teaching Assistants should not be used as an alternative to employing more teachers (132)
  • Status of primary teachers must be raised to parity with secondary teachers, in part by raising the qualification ceiling. (138)
  • The level of primary per pupil funding should be raised to match secondary schools (150). £2 billion spent on Numeracy and Literacy Strategies could be redirected for this. (151)
  • The Foundation Stage should be extended to age 6, with the more formal national curriculum delayed from age 5 to 6 (28).

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