02 October 2006

Education Education Education

First fringe event of the day was all about education titled "New thinking on the curriculum". The panel was the Shadow Schools Minister Nick Gibb and Martin Johnson representing from the Association of Teachers & Lecturers (ATL) who are apparently relatively friendly to the Tories. The subject of the debate was the contents of the national curriculum. Martin Johnson seemed like quite a nice guy and was arguing that the curriculum should focus on skills rather than knowledge, but that it should be broad in terms of taking into account the psychological, emotional and morale aspects.

I agreed with Nick Gibb's view that the curriculum should include knowledge as well as skills and was happy to hear that he rejected the extraneous stuff and is in favour of setting/streaming and evidence based policy.

As previously blogged I think the levels of literacy is a national disgrace. I asked a question to the panel about the root cause for this and the one thing they would do. Nick agreed things were poor and suggested the use of phonics, which I agree with. Astonishingly, Martin answered by disputing the assumptions in my question stating that we were doing well in international terms. He thought we were doing well internationally - I kicked straight back and there was something of an uproar in the audience. He then babbled on for a bit - in other words he lost it. I had many people coming up to me afterwards complimenting me on my question.

Another astonishing comment from the panel was that the requirement for IT teachers/skills was a passing fad.

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