Accord attends Labour Party school curriculum policy review

March 2, 2012

On Wednesday evening (February 29th) the Accord Coalition was invited to attend a policy consultation event in the House of Commons organised by the Labour Party looking at the school curriculum. The debate focused on core principles that should underpin a National Curriculum, and was attended by spokespersons from a wide variety of organisations, including professional subject associations, internal Labour party groups, as well as independent educationalists.

The Accord Coalition was represented at the meeting by its Coordinator, Paul Pettinger. He set out the organisation’s belief that all state funded schools should have to adhere to a National Curriculum of some kind, to help ensure that all schools delivered a broad and objective education that prepares their pupils for adult life in an increasingly diverse society. He argued that as schools gained more freedoms and autonomy, and as new education providers entered the state funded sector through the academies and free schools programme, so the safeguards offered by a National Curriculum became more valuable and important, rather than less.

He set out a range of Accord’s suggestions about how the National Curriculum could ensure that what schools teach is more balanced, including adding Religious Education to it. The subject is currently in the anonymous position of being a compulsory in state funded schools, but not on the National Curriculum, which leads to RE teaching of a variable quality, including faith schools being able to provide instructional RE if they choose.

Accord also argued that Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) should be added to the National Curriculum at Key Stages 1 to 4, because it believed the continual failure to ensure all schools provided it undermined the future health and well-being of their pupils.

Accord finally urged that the laws surrounding schools assemblies be reformed so that schools were able to provide assemblies that looked to forge shared values and draw upon a range of sources to advance pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural education. State funded schools are currently required to provide daily acts of Collective Worship of a ‘broadly Christian’ character, which many consider unworkable.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain said, ‘Accord is grateful for being invited to attend and to contribute towards the meeting, and we hope that our constructive ideas will be taken forward.’

3 Responses to Accord attends Labour Party school curriculum policy review

  1. Maurice Holt on March 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    The safeguards sought by Accord regarding RE teaching do not necessitate endorsement of a national curriculum. Many educationists would argue that its introduction in 1988, along with testing and other forms of accountability, has led to the decline in school standards which is now all too evident, and which has itself led to the invention of schools free from local control. There is much to be said for a less formal system that fosters school-based curriculum development, as in Finland, and as was the case in the UK prior to the misguided 1988 Act which led to a vast aggregation of central authority. I suggest Accord should be more aware of these issues.

    • Paul Pettinger on March 23, 2012 at 11:49 am

      Out of interest Maurice, how would you propose that the Government goes about ensuring that RE taught in state funded schools is genuinely educational, as well as broad and balanced in its schools?


      Paul Pettinger
      Coordinator of the Accord Coalition

  2. Peter Little on March 9, 2012 at 7:37 pm


    Whilst I agree wholeheartedly with your comments, I think that another central issue could be one of the features of the (Tory) Education Reform Act(ERA) of 1988, namely: The provision for a ‘Broad and Balanced Education’ required of schools. There is nothing ‘broad’ or ‘balanced’ about the curricula of schools being run by people with superstitious beliefs in supernatural phenomena(Faith Schools) and by the worshippers of Mammon (sponsored academies). (In the case of a well-known North Eastern car dealer, both types in one batch of academies!) It is most significant that the ConDems don’t think that The National Curriculum is good enough for their ‘free’ and ‘academy’ schools. As for accountability, these types of school are supposed to be accountable directly to the government, but try getting info about these schools and the magic phrase ‘commercial confidentiality’ comes into play. State-funded schools have commercially confidential features do they???

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