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The new Maths Curriculum will be published later this year, ready for schools to start in 2014. Ministers, now finalising their draft proposals, want the standards in mathematics expected of pupils in this country to equal those expected elsewhere.
Will the new curriculum succeed? Politeia's new study, Primary Problems for the New Curriculum: Tougher Maths, Better Teachers, analyses the draft curriculum.Its author, Prof David Burghes, welcomes the emphasis on basic academic knowledge and congratulates ministers on such emphasis. But, to aspire to the standards expected in some of the mathematically high performing countries, the final curriculum should be more demanding.
David Abulafia, Jonathan Clark, Robert Tombs
The government's new history curriculum has yet to be finalised. But so far the draft has prompted a lively debate amongst historians, teachers and the public.
The plan for pupils to concentrate on the history of this country, from the Romans to Mrs Thatcher, strikes some critics as being too Anglocentric. Others cavil at themes or even phrases which jar on today's politically correct sensibilities.
However, as Politeia's History in the Making: The New Curriculum, Right or Wrong? suggests, such criticisms are wide of the mark.
Today too many children finish primary school without the foundations of mathematics, and so cannot make progress in the subject at secondary school. As a result they are not equipped to lead and participate in a full adult life. Primary Problems: A First Curriculum for Mathematics emphasises the importance of mathematics in the primary years.
Its author, Professor David Burghes, considers the examples from a group of successful, mathematically high-performing countries, Singapore, Japan and Finland. He suggests that there are lessons for this country both in terms of what is taught and when. Professor Burghes compares the government’s new proposals with these models, and while welcoming certain features, including the greater freedom for teachers, suggests where they might be modified for greater success.
This publication is kindly sponsored by OCR
As universities become ever more competitive globally, not just in the USA but now in Asia, they attract the best scholars, students and greater levels of funding. However, UK universities are being held back by the burdens of government policy. Unless this changes, they could lose their historic global lead. In particular they need freedom: from burdensome regulation in research so scholars and scientists can follow judgement and ‘hunches’; to play to their diverse strengths; and for a satisfactory balance to be struck on funding.
That’s the message from Martin Rees, one of the UK’s most distinguished scientists who also led two of our most prestigious institutions as President of the Royal Society and Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.
Last month Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, announced major reform of the exam system, with GCSEs being replaced with a new English Baccalaureate. In our blog, Sheila Lawlor, David Abulafia and Jonathan Clark welcomed the changes.
One of the changes that was announced was the scrapping of modular examinations. Politeia called for this change in Comparing Standards: Academic and Vocation, 16-19 year olds.
One of the reccommendations made by the Politeia Education Commission was that 'the trend to modular examinations and the use of coursework... should be entirely reversed. Qualifications should be gained entirely by externally set and marked examinations taken at the end of the course.'
With his new reforms, Michael Gove is reversing the trend towards modules and coursework.