A backward defensive stroke from the DfE

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

Back in the mists of time – it was October 2103 – I wrote about a letter I'd received from the DfE explaining what it wasn't doing about sustainable development.  I commented, with what I felt were pleasing cricket metaphors ...

This is the DfE straight bat; a solid defensive stance trying to cover all the stumps, and with both feet well inside the crease.  I'd say that it will take an in-swinging yorker to discomfort them.  SEEd is having a go at this, assembling a team of strike bowlers from its friends in the campaigning business to try to influence what the main 2015 election manifestos say.  In reality, it will likely be finesse rather than pace that will break the resistance.  Let's hope Graham Swann is on the team.

Of course, this is a limited overs match, and SEEd may well be hoping for most luck with the side currently fielding.  We shall see.

And see we did.  To everyone's surprise, including its own, the home team won (to mix metaphors) by a short head.  But, to no one's great surprise, the SEEd horse was unplaced.

I'm reminded of all this by a letter written by DfE minister, Nick Gibb, to the admirably persistent Chris Southwood.  Chris wrote asking if DfE would be going to respond in any way to the Paris Agreement to help future generations understand climate change and to actively participate in achieving the targets set.  This seemed a very reasonable enquiry – the full text of her letter is here.

Gibbs response is here.  Needless to say it does not answer Chris's question – except to say that the government thinks it important that young people study the facts about climate change and the environment, and that, happily, the national curriculum provides opportunities to do so.  Huzzah!

But what about all those youngsters who no longer have to study the national curriculum in England?   They now comprise the majority of secondary school students, because of the shift to Academy status, and a growing proportion in primary schools.

It is certainly telling that Gibb's response was in relation to the increasingly irrelevant national curriculum, rather than in relation to the 2002 Education Act which still applies to all schools.  Section 78 is key.  It begins ...

78 – General requirements in relation to curriculum

(1) The curriculum for a maintained school or maintained nursery school satisfies the requirements of this section if it is a balanced and broadly based curriculum which ...

(a) promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society, and

(b) prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.

If I had the energy, I'd ask Gibb how schools are supposed to do this without critically addressing the Paris Agreement, reminding him that, to do so, will involve more than setting out facts.  And I'd also ask him when he is going to act on his responsibility to remind schools to do this.


Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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