Plans to “restore rigour in the key primary subjects” were set out by Education Secretary Michael Gove recently in his new draft overhaul of the Primary National Curriculum.
The plans propose a back-to-basics curriculum, focusing on times-tables, spelling and grammar. Pupils will be expected to have learned their times-tables up to 12 by the age of nine, to multiply and divide fractions by the age of 11 and to start learning and reciting poetry from five years old. The coalition Government has made much of giving schools more autonomy in how and what they teach. Some have welcomed the renewed focus on the traditional “three Rs” as good preparation for secondary school. However, some union leaders fear that this heavily prescribed curriculum will leave little room for teachers to adapt learning to their individual pupils’ needs and to make lessons exciting for them.
This supplement looks at how far a very traditional approach can be reconciled with what we now know about the benefits of a creative education, which promotes the ability to question, make connections, innovate, problem-solve, communicate, collaborate and to reflect critically. Can we have both rigour and creativity? Can we avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater?.