I didn't think it was possible for state schools to get much worse.
It appears that the Government has identified a few areas where pupils are still learning something.
The essential point about the new curriculum is that it gives teachers much more flexibility about how to organise learning. They do not have to be trammelled by subject labels. They do not have to plod methodically through programmes of study. Instead, they can pursue learning through cross-curricular themes. They can adapt the pace and content of learning to the needs of individual pupils.
In short, the new curriculum is designed to permit something the government has espoused - without really defining - "personalised learning".
As one curriculum expert put it, this whole vast exercise of revising the curriculum has really been about one thing - giving teachers permission to use their own professional judgement.
This really does sound like the death knell for state education in the UK. The reason the National Curriculum was introduced in the beginning (by the Tories) was to try and stop the kind of teacher who thought Romeo and Juliet was 'heterocentric' indoctrinating pupils. Alas, as the mighty Mel P described in "All Must Have Prizes", the last place you needed to look if you wanted a decent curriculum were the institutions that taught and theorised about teaching. The curriculum became a tool of the cultural Left, another of the endless series of culture war defeats of which the Tories, fighting their economic battles, seemed to be unaware.
Paradoxically, the only hope under these circumstances is for schools to be given even more freedom - above all to set their own admission - and exclusion - criteria. Vouchers aren't an essential part of that process - if money follows the pupils as currently you've pretty much got the equivalent. Today's Labour Party at bottom see social engineering as more important than education, so they will never do it.
Who are going to do it ? Cameron's Tories ?
These reforms will drive even more of those who can afford it to the private sector - which the Government will attack in whatever way it can. We're going to see polite trench warfare as Labour attack things like the charitable tax concessions - pricing out a few "poorer" parents as some red meat for their supporters while making no difference to the rich.
It's a pity this world is an overcrowded place, with no unclaimed habitable land. Did such a place exist, I'm sure there'd be a rush for some 21st century Mayflower equivalent.
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