Teachers lambast ‘Gove’s pub quiz learning’

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EDUCATION Secretary Michael Gove is introducing a “pub quiz” curriculum that will lead to more demotivated students skipping lessons, according to the biggest teaching union.

The National Union of Teachers criticised Mr Gove’s proposals for focusing on rote learning and failing to include social issues such as relationships, citizenship and the environment.

The union argues the new curriculum focuses too much on teaching pupils facts and not enough on giving them the skills to discover and analyse information for themselves.

The conference heard calls for members to “expose the horrors” of Mr Gove’s plan.

Responding to the criticism last night, however, the Department for Education said the claims “could not be further from the truth”.

The NUT’s annual conference passed a motion arguing the new curriculum, due to come into force in September, will leave pupils facing a narrow “kings and queens” history curriculum.

It also warned geography lessons would simply deal with “capes, bays, rivers and mountain ranges”.

“Creativity and enjoyment at school will be reduced, thus alienating young people and leading to more school absence in direct opposition to the Department for Education focus on promoting school attendance and on reducing pupil exclusion and disaffection,” it said.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower described the changes to the curriculum as “desperately ill thought-out”.

“They will lead to many students becoming totally disengaged from education,” she said.

“Further, they will disadvantage pupils with special educational needs and English as a second language.

“Teachers are genuinely fearful that pupils will be forced to learn in a way that is inappropriate.

“Rote learning is the antithesis of experiential learning, learning through doing.

“It doesn’t promote the critical thinking and problem solving skills that are essential for good-quality learning.”

An NUT survey of 2,159 members, conducted in February and March, found that two thirds felt the new curriculum places too much emphasis on “facts” with members arguing this was less relevant in the digital era.

Speaking at the conference in Liverpool, NUT executive member Alex Kenny said: “If we are going to defeat him (Mr Gove) on education, we have not only to expose the horrors of his new curriculum but to develop, and win support for, an alternative curriculum, which as the motion suggests should have social justice and equality at its heart.

“So what’s wrong with Gradgrind Gove’s pub quiz curriculum? It’s a curriculum high on content and low on aims, concepts and skills. A curriculum in which the learner is completely absent, or just a passive consumer of information or knowledge.”

Mr Kenny claimed the 1988 Education Reform Act enshrined in law the principle that a Secretary of State should not prescribe teaching methods.

“The new curriculum is full of prescribed teaching methodologies that take no account of how teachers teach or how children learn,” he said.

“They take no account of the views of subject experts. His obsession with transmission of knowledge means that things like sex and relationships education, citizenship, climate change and the environment, complicated issues that need discussion and unravelling disappear completely from the curriculum.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “The draft national curriculum is challenging and ambitious and will give every child the broad and balanced education they need to fulfil their potential.”