Following our alert of 10 June about the Secretary of State’s proposals for England’s (primary) national curriculum, we now draw colleaguesʼ attention to evidence of serious differences both within the governmentʼs National Curriculum Review Expert Panel and between some members of that panel and ministers. Andrew Pollardʼs blog and published correspondence between Pollard, Mary James and the Secretary of State reveal considerable tensions behind the scenes, and for some readers this will raise questions about the validity of the entire review exercise. It certainly prompts a necessary question about accountability. Who exactly are the hitherto anonymous ʻexpertsʼ behind the proposed English, maths and science programmes of study?
These revelations, moreover, are not the whole story, as we and other organisations involved in the review can confirm. Having said that, it is important to retain a sense of historical perspective. CPR’s final report showed that educational decision-making under the previous government was no less problematic, and CPR itself was at the receiving end of what looked like government-led wrecking tactics where its findings on curriculum and assessment were concerned. The problem now, as then, is the probity and efficiency of England’s educational policy process as a whole, and the questions people are raising today about the current national curriculum review apply with no less force to the period 1997-2010. (Readers may care to look again at the analysis of all this in Children, their World, their Education, chapters 3 and 23).
In any event, during the period between now and late July when consultation on the new proposals remains open, professional eyes should stay wide open too.