The head of the body responsible for monitoring teaching standards in Great Britain will make an impassioned plea today for relesing children in schools from the stranglehold of the national curriculum and give teachers the freedom to decide what should be taught. Keith Bartley, chief executive of the General Teaching Council, (GTC) will warn that the current primary school timetable presents pupils with lessons that are “too formal, too early.” He will urge a relaxation of the strict regime based on tests, targets and league tables may be the best way to motivate and inspire children. Mr. Bartley believes education is “at a crossroads” after decades of an education system which has been “prescriptive of the curriculum, assessment and testng and latterly of teachng methods.”
As one who has taught for 51 years, I can only cheer the statements of Bartley. His comments came just before a debate at the Teachers and Lecturers conference where a royal commission is investigating why so many children dislike school. Parents told the inquiry “teachers should be allowed flexibility to decide how and what they teach, to inspire themselves and the children.”
Teachers come in all shapes and abilities as do people in every occupation. One doubts if business leaders like Billy Gates chart out in detail what their creative researchers should say and do. Instead, they trust the ability of individuals who have been trained to use their creative thinking talents to uncover new ways of developing industry. The same freedom is required for teachers. If there are incompetent teachers, one has hired princpals and department chairpeople to focus on assisting them while allowing competent and brilliant educators to use their talents in order to energize students.