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Primary Education News
News Letters: Education needs joined-up thinking
In his budget speech (Report, 21 March), George Osborne talked about building an "aspiration nation". The London borough of Southwark, in conjunction with Cambridge University and University College London a few years ago set up the Ambitions scheme whereby a limited number of children from Southwark schools would be encouraged to apply to study at these top universities and others. The scheme was aimed at children from schools and families where going on to university is unusual and was intended to continue until the child is old enough to apply to university.
Our daughter, currently in year 9, was selected. The most recent Ambitions activity was a trip a few weeks ago to Cambridge University, to include a visit to "Science on Saturday", part of the Cambridge Science Festival. Shorty after the coach left Southwark the facilitator announced that government funding for the scheme was being withdrawn and that she was soon to be made redundant.
As the coach departed from the Elephant and Castle, ostensibly for Queen's Road, Cambridge, the facilitator asked the driver why he was heading south along the New Kent Road. The reply from the driver was that it was the quickest way to Queen's Road, Peckham. So much for the aspiration nation.
• Further to Fiona Millar's article (Payments that will give wrong results, 9 April), I am surprised that no one has mentioned the scandals and inequities that have resulted from performance-related pay in the finance industry.
Mis-selling of endowment policies, payment protection insurance etc are all attributable essentially to payment by results: staff received bonuses for selling such products. At other end of the scale, directors' and chief executives' pay is wildly out of step with the real performance of these individuals. The continuing deficit crisis is the direct result of the poor performance of these greedy individuals.
So why would anyone with any appreciation of these matters possibly think that PRP would be a good thing for teachers? It is beyond me.
• Ofsted's recent press release on teacher training was even more misleading than Rhona Seviour and Norman Blackett point out (Letters, 11 April). For example, it reinforced the myth that there is a sharp distinction between "university-led" and "school-led" initial teacher training (ITT), when in fact schools are already partners in all of the former and universities are involved in most of the latter. On the actual data, although 21 inspections were carried out, only 17 providers were actually visited; three of these were delivering further education ITT only and should not be used to justify a comparison of ITT in schools; one was a monitoring visit resulting in a letter with no grades. That leaves 13 providers of ITT for schools inspected, of which four were higher education institutions, from a total of about 200. This is not a sufficient basis for Michael Wilshaw's statement about the results providing justification for the government's teacher training reforms, which could almost have been written by one of Mr Gove's special advisers.
Executive director, Universities Council for the Education of Teachers
• One key aim of the 2014 national curriculum proposals is for children to learn historical facts chronologically. Topics such "Victorians" will no longer be taught in primary schools and children in key stage 2 will not be taught history beyond the reign of the Stuarts. Unfortunately, no one appears to have told the authors of the primary science curriculum. The science consultation document suggests children should learn about paleontologists such as Mary Anning (1799-1847) and the work of Charles Darwin (1809-82).
The key stage 1 history curriculum suggests five-year-olds should learn about Michael Faraday and William Harvey. It is unfortunate that the science proposals suggest that "electricity" should be introduced to eight- to nine-year-olds and the circulatory system should be taught to nine- to 10-year-olds. Perhaps Mr Gove should drop his concerns about issues such as joined-up handwriting and focus on the failings in joined-up thinking in the Department for Education. The consultation period ends today, 16 April.
Pett, East Sussex