The Primary Reviews
For us, the Alexander [Cambridge] Review’s final report raised valuable questions about the balance of local autonomy and national control, the rhetoric of flexibility and the risk of curriculum constraint, and the potential of factors such as assessment-by-test to distort curriculum priorities.
The Review – and the ongoing work to follow it up – has gone well beyond the confines of the formal curriculum, to raise questions about schools’ role in creating “a world fit to live in.” Its active vision of an energised profession chimed strongly with the ideas emerging from the Tide~ network, while its principal means to that end [the creation of creative teacher networks] mirrors closely what we are all about.
Compared with Curriculum 2000, the Rose Review of the Primary Curriculum proposed a slimmer, clearer formal curriculum which offered teachers a space – and an excuse - to think afresh, to build on what their schools had already been doing as ‘creative’ or ‘twenty first century’ curricula: to give themselves permission to “construct the solutions most appropriate to our needs.”
A 21st Century Primary Curriculum
Several Tide~ teacher projects have explored the proposals which came out of Sir Jim Rose’s Review, and have found a huge amount there that they can work with.
For example, as a focus for thinking about learners’ needs in a changing world, several groups of teachers used the review as an opportunity to visualise their schools’ local communities in twenty years’ time … and the local, national and global trends at play on those communities.
In twenty years, the children now at primary school will be in their mid 20s to early 30s. But what skills and capabilities would they need to be developing now for life in that changed and changing world?
Time and again, the lists that teachers came up with were similar – even identical – to the “Essentials for Learning and Life” proposed by Sir Jim’s review: skills which seemed to meet learners’ needs in a changing world.
Such skills needed to be balanced by understandings, and working groups on Primary Science and Geography found real substance in the conceptual understandings proposed for each Area of Learning in the Rose Review.
A teacher project in Sandwell also successfully used the Rose Review’s over-arching curriculum aims as a focus for creative planning to develop “Successful, confident and responsible global learners.”
Groups also found a huge amount of value in both the tone and substance of Robin Alexander’s Primary Review. Some saw significant mileage for global learning in its ‘Seven Es’, which it proposed as fundamental principles in primary education.
”let us unite … in pursuit of fundamental principles such as
equity and empathy,
engagement and empowerment,
expertise and excellence” - Cambridge Primary Review, Final Report [Page 4]
The Cambridge Review also proposed twelve curricular aims. Consultations felt that they too had great potential around creative planning for global learning, embracing as they do notions of global citizenship, interdependence, empowerment and sustainable development:
- encouraging respect and reciprocity
- promoting interdependence and sustainability
- empowering local, national and global citizenship
- celebrating culture and community
- exploring, knowing, understanding and making sense
- fostering skill
- exciting the imagination
- enacting dialogue