Government prescription is worse for pupils than anything schools do, says Bernard Trafford

In an article in the TES, 20/07/12, head of Newcastle Royal Grammar School, Dr Bernard Trafford talks about giving all schools independence over curriculum.

In 22 years of headship, I have lost count of the "new strategies" based on simplistic ministerial assumptions about how children learn. Gove's proposed national curriculum goes one better, cherry-picking elements from all the highest performing systems in the world. Great idea; hopeless in practice. Smart schools have always nicked ideas from others: the posh term for it is "sharing good practice". But you have to assimilate those ideas into what works for your school, with your children. A small group of advisers and a politician can't do that for a whole nation.

Here is a funny thing about the proposed curriculum. The government's flagship schools - the academies - don't have to follow it because they are (allegedly) independent. This suggests the great new plan is directed specifically at schools that have not converted. Are they the bad boys and girls, the slow learners in school terms? I think we should be told.

Will any politician ever find the courage to trust schools? To set the broad direction and then trust the profession to be creative, demanding, challenging and inspiring? I fear not.

Click here to read the article © TES