I quite wanted to weep when I read this. In one sense it's interesting and heartening to read that a secondary school teacher feels the same as primary school practitioners. On the other hand it's desperately sad that this feeling of not being able to bring out the best in all our students prevails across the whole education system. If we only aim for the very narrow objective of (in primary) 4s.5s and 6s in Reading, Writing and Maths how can we be enriching any other part of our children's lives and experiences? How will we nurture children's talents, hopes, dreams and minds?
As I've stated many times before (indeed this article states it too) children do need to be able to use the number system, read, write and communicate their ideas. But we are doing them a dis-service if we leave everything else behind. Indeed I'd argue that we are not aiming high enough if we merely want L4s.5s (and even 6s) in those 2 core subjects. Why aren't we striving for L5s in history, geography, art, music. If our children are leaving with true Level 4s etc in those 2 are they also gaining the same in all the other subjects of the national curriculum? How will we ever draw out children's true talents if we narrow our teaching so much. It's like we're kettling the curriculum - so narrow how can we ever achieve anything better? What about the child who is below average in Writing or reading but is exceptional at PE? I expect there are lots of us who've taught such children. Are we going to be the ones to dash their hopes and dreams and not explore their skills? I can balance on a beam and it's nothing to do with my age - I would NEVER have been able to do that. I wouldn't even know how to clamber up there in a non ungainly fashion. I can do other things and like doing those. Other people like doing their thing. As the song goes 'Everyone is special everybody has GIFTS'.
If we used the basics IN the other subjects of course we are more likely to encourage our children into truly achieving their best. We need to enhance their innate abilities and draw out possibilities too. We are, as the article said NOT a business-we are educators and that's our job. We're ignoring the breadth and depth of the now ancient tome 'Excellence and Enjoyment' (do you remember....Ed Milliband?) from earlier on in the decade. Expectations need to be high for ALL those subjects-not just the ones deemed especially important (please don't write in and say but they need to be able to use number, read and write because I AGREE but what do you think you're doing when you're engaging in historical debate, analysing data in science etc?) because they are tested. Those budding scientists, musicians, historians, artists...they can grow in primary school too with your careful WATERING.