Cambridge Primary Review 2010

Briefing Pack

By Melanie Jones, published 27th April 2010

Alexander Review

We are sure that you are aware by now of the findings of the Cambridge Primary Review. The author, Robin Alexander has been working recently to disseminate information and give teachers and primary education professionals the chance to discuss the priorities for primary education. These ideas, based around the key finding of the review will then be merged into a document submitted to the government.  For your information, listed below are the key points/recommendations of the report and the discussion that surrounded each at the London dissemination conference. 

1.) Maintain the drive to close the overlapping gaps of equity and attainment.

This is a society issue. Every child should achieve their potential from the top or the bottom. Often, too little focus is given to gifted and talented pupils . 

2.) Reconfigure the relationship between early years provision and primary education.

Discussion suggested that the early years stage should be extended as far as 7 years. Such a system would necessitate early years specialists with a decent ITT preparation. This would mean reform of the current PGCE. If this were to go ahead, the transition between early years and the proposed single key stage should be carefully monitored. 

3.) Make Children's agency, voice and rights a reality in school policy and classrooms.

This should go further than just merely a box to tick. It should work to inform all those involved with the lives of children. There should be active involvement and engagement. 

4.) Clarify and redirect the aims of primary education.

Schools should be given an audit tool. It should always start with schools own aims and principles and build up from there. Aims should actually mean something and link to pedagogy, not just be cosmetic. Pupils should be able to identify with them. 

5.) Achieve curriculum reform that avoids the pitfalls identified by the review.

It was agreed that reform should not take place for reforms' sake and that any reform should not be merely switching one set of labels for another. It was agreed that in all subjects, regardless of perceived importance or curriculum time, excellent teaching should be delivered. It was also agreed that there need not be the separation of the so-called "basics" and the other subjects. Instead there should be a broad curriculum with greater opportunity for cross curricular work. 

6.) Move to a recipe of evidence, repertoire, and principle.

It was agreed that teaching should be given back to teachers. A broad curriculum should be designed in consultation with teachers, head-teachers, educationalists, students and parents. 

7.) Raise standards and strengthen accountability.

Firstly, there was disagreement over what constitutes standards. It was agreed that formative and summative assessment was necessary and that some form of national tests are needed at the need of the primary phase, but that these should not be linked to accountability, and instead should be summative.  League tables should be abolished. However, it was also noted that due to the current system, it will be very difficult to divorce assessment and accountability and any move to separate the two would need the involvement and engagement of society. 

8.) Institute a full review of primary school staffing.

All schools should be fully staffed. Head-teachers should be able to decide how best to use their staff. There was some discussion of a possible system whereby subject specialists deliver lessons, although this would be a problem for small schools. 

9.) Reform Initial Teacher Training

A 2 year PGCE was advocated There was also feeling that the report was not radical enough in terms of ITT and that there should be an "end of compliance supported by a militant Ofsted." 

10.) Reform DCSF and TDA professional standards for serving teachers.

It was agreed that the focus of standards should be about pedagogy and that head-teachers should also have their priorities re-assessed towards supporting and influencing the pedagogy in their schools rather than endless streams of administration. 

11.) Reverse the centralising trajectory of recent policy.

Pedagogy should be the vehicle for change. A bonfire of quangos was needed and education policy should be influenced by teachers and educationalists, not quangos. It was agreed that school accountability should be replaced by teacher accountability. It was also agreed that schools should be given a greater handle on educational statistics and evidence in order to refute the press/media. 

Cambridge Review and History: The Priorities:

Should any of the recommendations above be taken on, there are certain priorities for primary historians to be working on: These being:

1.) Gifted and Talented primary history materials

2.) Cross-curricular materials involving history

3.) A possible opportunity to be involved with formulation of policy regarding history, dependent on the outcome of election - especially now that the new Education Bill has been dumped!!!!

4.) INSET training/CPD on the pedagogy behind history teaching, possibly delivered by a history coordinator in the school.