Sheffield heads give a C minus to lesson changes

Headteacher David Bowes celebrates at Tapton School who have had an excellent OFSTED report.
Headteacher David Bowes celebrates at Tapton School who have had an excellent OFSTED report.
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Sheffield headteachers are giving a lukewarm response to plans to shake up the National Curriculum - branding the ideas ‘old fashioned’ and ‘not fit for purpose’.

Education Secretary Michael Gove hopes changes to be introduced by autumn next year will help England catch up with the world’s best education systems.

The new-look curriculum puts a stronger emphasis on skills such as ‘essay writing, problem-solving, mathematical modelling and computer programming’.

But academies, which are now the majority of secondary schools, are not required to follow the new guidelines.

Dina Martin, headteacher of Firs Hill Primary in Pitsmoor, said she would fit the curriculum into her classrooms in the best way she could.

“It seems to me that it is moving us away from what we do really well,” she said.

“There’s a lot of learning by rote - which is really not fit for purpose for the 21st century. Anyone can use their laptop or phone to access knowledge.

“The world is a fast moving place - young people need to think for themselves and solve problems on their own.

“As for nine-year-olds learning 12 times tables - that is nothing new, we are doing that already,” Mrs Martin added.

David Bowes, head at Crosspool’s Tapton Academy, said no academy could afford to ignore the National Curriculum as it set benchmarks reflected in pupil assessments which were in place from the age of five upwards.

“These assessments are the same for us as any other school. There will be flexibility, but this means our lessons will in all likelihood look very, very similar,” he said.

“No-one is terribly happy with the proposals – to me they seem a bit old fashioned.

“But we deal with what we are given because the Government is our paymaster and it is an absolute necessity to serve every youngster’s needs as well as we can.”

How the changes will affect your children

Nine-year-olds will be expected to know their 12 times tables while five-year-olds will write their own computer programmes, as part of the reshaped National Curriculum.

Long division and fractions will be back for primary pupils, while English lessons will include grammar and punctuation.

History will include the ‘heroes and heroines’ of the past, while in geography youngsters will learn how to use maps and locate rivers and cities.

Science lessons will include evolution and climate change.