21 October 2009

Welcoming the Cambridge Primary Review

Having a keen interest in Primary Education (I have been a school governor for more than a decade) I was naturally interested in the most comprehensive review of the area for forty years and so jumped at the chance to go to the public launch of the debate at the RSA.

The Cambridge Primary Review is broad in scope (hence the report's title), thoroughly researched, well presented and makes some specific actionable recommendations.

On the evening, the report's author, Professor Robin Alexander, introduced the report eloquently and convincingly and justified the enthusiastic round of applause from the packed audience.

The other panellists brought different perspectives to the debate that stressed the scope of the review and the quality of the evidence behind it.

It is a long report, the full version is around 500 pages, and so we were only presented with some headlines and this is my summary of that summary.

Teaching, not testing, raises standards.

The curriculum needs to be extended well beyond the current narrow focus on English and Maths. Arising from this is the need to change the method of assessment (i.e. get rid of SATS) and the way we deploy and train teachers, including the need to have some specialist teachers in the Primary Sector just as there are in the Secondary.

Every Child Matters is still important.

There is a need to focus more on speaking, communication, chatting, debating and dialogue. Children need to learn how to talk more.

The debate on the report has started but well intentioned and well argued though it is I suspect that the powers that be (i.e. politicians) will continue their recent trend of ignoring authoritative research when it is not completely in-line with their own thinking.

I am also concerned, as a Change Management Consultant, that the review has not made a compelling case for change and so it is easier to ignore.

I hope that I am wrong on both counts and I will be doing what I can to promote the report and it's findings, starting with this blog.

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