What’s it all about, Govey?

Elmhurst School for Boys

10th June 2012

As Principal of an academically high-achieving prep school, I should support Michael Gove’s latest proposals whole-heartedly. High standards of language skills, of reading, writing, spelling and grammar are essential if children are going to do well in today’s competitive world.

But I’m also a supporter of independence. The schools that do best in both state and independent sectors are those which are innovative and want to stretch and support their pupils in the way they know best. Excessive intervention from the government is always a danger.

At Elmhurst we are pleased to embrace the best of what central government can offer; but to do the best for our boys, we need the curriculum time to be able to teach all subjects, not just those which are the current fad. I’m worried that more intervention from the government won’t actually improve the standards, but will fill up the curriculum time with over-prescriptive lessons and tests. And the trouble with national tests is, they clog up teaching time with exams.

Of course, none of these proposals affect us very much, since we cover all this ground anyway, and indeed go far beyond what Michael Gove is proposing. We already teach French (and a bit of Latin!); we teach traditional grammar and spelling, and history and geography as discrete subjects.

I only hope that any new educational initiatives will benefit those they are intended to help, and don’t merely overburden the already stretched primary schools.

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