Lucy Powell: ‘Constant chopping and changing’ of curriculum has caused ‘impossible’ workload

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.

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  1. Geeta

    I completely agree. We are only going to lose more teachers. What happened to a growth mindset? There’s too much chopping and changing so nothing stays the same long enough for us to master it. This means we fall short of perfection and we are then accused of not meeting standards and so more new policies are introduced. Have more faith in the teaching profession and give us a chance or pretty soon we won’t have any great teachers left.

  2. Joseph Dunn

    The problem is that politicians do not trust teachers and this has been going on for some time.They are vocal at telling teachers what to teach and how to teach and they are clueless as to what really goes on in schools on a daily basis.Now that there is a teacher crisis,there seems to be a bit of back peddling going on but it might be a little late and the UK has lost teachers it cannot afford to.Nick Gibb needs a reality check as he seems to be in denial with regard to teacher recruitment and it looks like he will continue to chant his mantra that there is no problem.