Curriculum changes threaten museum visits

Patrick Steel, 10.07.2013
Sector unimpressed by cultural education proposals
The government has published changes to the national curriculum alongside Cultural Education, a document setting out its ambitions for cultural education in England, following the publication of Darren Henley’s review of cultural education in February 2012.

Plans to make the controversial history curriculum compulsory have been dropped, but museums and the wider culture sector are calling for further changes to be introduced, noting that museum visits will be threatened by the proposals.

Nick Winterbotham, chairman of the Group for Education in Museums (GEM), told Museums Journal: “Launched alongside other learning and cultural business, the new-look national curriculum looks rushed, and it has been.

“GEM was heavily engaged in the redraft and the most significant concession is that the history curriculum is no longer obligatory.

“However, we should not fall into the trap of seeming to welcome even a watered-down version of the ideologically-cramped single chronology that was proposed in the spring.

“There is still a presupposition that non-academy state schools in England should learn a white Anglo-Saxon protestant English history time-sequentially, and this may yet threaten visits and Key Stage 2 learning programmes at sites and in museums.”

The Cultural Learning Alliance (CLA), in its initial response to the proposals, noted: “The national curriculum must be further developed, as in its present form the draft won’t enable an innovative or fit-for-purpose cultural education.”

In particular, the CLA observed, fit-for-purpose GCSEs for arts and cultural subjects must be developed.

Sector response to the Cultural Education document has been similarly lukewarm, with the Museums Association’s head of policy and communications, Maurice Davies, saying: “I think it's a very disappointing plan compared to the rich and ambitious suggestions of the Henley review.”

Winterbotham added: “At best [the document] is a list of quite nice arty stuff. There's no budget for it; it completely ignores science and technology as elements of modern culture, and is a very weak response to the Henley Review which will presumably now sink without trace.”


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Nicola Sherhod
MA Member
Curator, Bunyan Museum & Library
10.07.2013, 19:16
The new version is worse than the first- and seems almost more restrictive. The excitement of discovering we (17th century/ Civil War) might be on at KS2, has now turned to panic as we loose the one link to KS2 we (like a large number of other museums dedicated to one individual) had - the local history study - no example of a significant individuals are mentioned. John Bunyan Museum.