Goodbye QCDA -- what now for the curriculum?

05 Jun 2010

Ever since Mrs Thatcher's government created the national curriculum in 1988, there has been an arm's length body to oversee the curriculum and qualifications. Admittedly that arm's length has seemed quite short at times but now we have the possibility of more direct control over what is taught and tested by central government.

The question now is this: who will do the work currently done by the QCDA and all its predecessor bodies going right back to the National Curriculum Council?

 The government is likely to announce a Curriculum Committee of their favoured 'great & good' in education to consider the forthcoming review of the curriculum. We can expect historians with a traditional view and synthetic phonics experts to feature highly.

But, fundamentally, control of the national curriculum seems to be switching to civil servants within the Department for Education.  How much experience do they have of the classroom? Do they have the background to challenge the curriculum view of politicians or the zealous supporters of a particular view of education?

The new national curriculum may be stripped down to cover just: English, Maths, foreign languages and history. It's possible that even science will be left out. Should such big decisions be taken by politicians and their appointees?

 There are important issues about qualifications too. The government plans to add the IGCSE to the approved list of qualifications.

But do ministers realise that there is no requirement for the IGCSE to be aligned to the English national curriculum?

For example, you can take IGCSE English without needing to read Shakespeare. Is that what Michael Gove wants?

And many experts believe the IGCSE English syllabus is much easier, and much narrower, than GCSE. Do we really want to encourage schools to go for the easier option?

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