Proof that Gove by-passed his own Expert Panel to push through idiotic curriculum changes

The British Educational Association has just published the major correspondence about their President’s (Mary James) involvement with the National Curriculum Review. The documentation details in depth exactly what Mary James and her colleague, primary school expert, Andrew Pollard, objected to in the National Curriculum Review. We already had some information about this from Andrew Pollard’s blog on The Institute of Education’s website. Together with Mary James, Pollard tried to resign after having some real problems with the curriculum changes being pushed through; it was too prescriptive, it unworkable, it was too narrow and unrealistic. But it’s now come to light that Gove basically ignored quite a bit of their advice using his “henchman” Tim Oates to push through the changes he wanted. James and Pollard wrote in their letter to Gove, dated 10th October, 2011: “Consultation with subject experts in English, Maths and Science took place during the spring and early summer, leading to the production of draft programmes of study. They have now been replaced by text produced by Tim Oates and nominees of the Minister for Schools. This process has by-passed the Expert Panel as a whole and we are therefore not a position to endorse the outcomes.” Quite how Gove managed to persuade these two to stay after they sent the letter is a bit of mystery because there’s no indication that their views were taken into account; they were simply allowed to distance themselves from the changes to the primary curriculum. Their silence was bought but not won; well, until now…

The letter highlights seven areas of “particular concern” which James and Pollard clearly still have otherwise they wouldn’t be publishing the letter. These include: the lack of curriculum breadth with little room for the Arts in the new Programmes of Study (POS); the curricular constraints placed on teachers with the changes being far too “prescriptive”; the lack of emphasis on the oral development of children; the lack of provision for helping children to make the transition between the different stages of the curriculum; the lack of detailed aims for the curriculum as a whole, indicating that the curriculum has no sound philosophical or theoretical basis; the pace with which the new curriculum has been pushed through with little regard for involving the relevant stakeholders or taking into account a diversity of views and evidence.

In other words, the letter is a devastating attack on Gove’s WHOLE APPROACH!! James and Pollard put politely what I would like to say loud and clear: Gove and Gibb are idiots who know nothing about education and are now pushing through curriculum changes that have NO legitimacy, will inevitably NOT work, and will mean miserable children learning a redundant curriculum, teachers who are COMPLETELY STRIPPED OF AUTONOMY, and COMPLETE SHAMBLES all round!! God, how are these people in charge? The mind boggles! They don’t listen even to their own experts. They have their own petty political agenda which does not take into account the needs to children. Read  the letter and judge for yourself.


Gove’s “henchman”, Tim Oates, who muscled through curriculum changes for his boss, despite other experts objecting…


Published by: @wonderfrancis

Francis Gilbert is a Lecturer in Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, teaching on the PGCE Secondary English programme. He also teaches the Creative Writing module on the MA in Children’s Literature, which is run by Maggie Pitfield and Professor Michael Rosen. Previously, he worked for a quarter of a century in various English state schools teaching English and Media Studies to 11-18 year olds. He has, at times, moonlighted as a journalist, novelist and social commentator. He is the author of ‘Teacher On The Run’, ‘Yob Nation’, ‘Parent Power’, ‘Working The System -- How To Get The Very Best State Education for Your Child’, and a novel about school, ‘The Last Day Of Term’. His first book, ‘I'm A Teacher, Get Me Out Of Here’ was a big hit, becoming a bestseller and being serialised on Radio 4. In his role as an English teacher, he has taught many classic texts over the years and has developed a great many resources to assist readers with understanding, appreciating and responding to them both analytically and creatively. This led him to set up his own small publishing company FGI Publishing ( which has published his study guides as well as a number of books by other authors, including Roger Titcombe’s ‘Learning Matters’ and anthology of creative writing 'The Gold Room'. He is the co-founder, with Melissa Benn and Fiona Millar, of The Local Schools Network,, a blog that celebrates non-selective state schools, and has his own website, He has appeared numerous times on radio and TV, including Newsnight, the Today Programme, Woman’s Hour and the Russell Brand Show. In June 2015, he was awarded a PhD in Creative Writing and Education by Goldsmiths.

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