Ministers with “pet subjects” meddling in curriculum and creating “impossible” assessment changes would become a thing of the past under a Labour government, the shadow education secretary has claimed.
During a speech at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers annual conference in Liverpool, Lucy Powell signalled a more hands-off approach to curriculum and testing if her party won control in 2020.
She also warned against interventions from ministers who “don’t know the subjects”.
The current Conservative government and its coalition predecessor have faced criticism for the pace and scale of its curriculum and testing reforms, which included a focus on traditional academic subjects and the introduction of new assessments at key stage 2.
Ms Powell pledged to give teachers more power over what they teach; an approach welcomed enthusiastically by delegates.
“I’m not going to come in with my own set of pet subjects, you’ll be pleased to know,” Ms Powell told members.
“I think my job is to not micro-manage what’s happening in the classroom, but to set a strategic direction for education over a period of time.”
She blamed the government for the extra workload teachers say they now face due to the “constant chopping and changing” of assessment. “[It] changes daily and is impossible to work around,” she added.
“I’ve got kids myself – one in year 7, one in year 1 and one in nursery – and the year 1 curriculum is absolutely mad. It is absurd.”
Earlier in the day schools minister Nick Gibb acknowledged the “challenge” pledged to reduce the burdens on teachers from Ofsted inspections.
He also said that while mistakes had been made during the implementation of new tests for primary teachers these had now been resolved.