A mandatory “content framework” for all trainee teachers in England was rushed out by the Conservative government in the final hours before purdah. This framework represents the most profound shift in what the state expects prospective schoolteachers to be taught in over two decades. It is remarkable both for its heavy emphasis on memorisation and for its selective and reductive use of the evidence.
World-leading education systems prepare their teachers thoroughly, giving them a solid grounding in theories of learning as well as teaching. Initial teacher education in England has been heavily skewed towards practical teaching experience for nearly 30 years.
We believe there are enormous opportunities to introduce recent psychological and neuroscientific ideas to new teachers that will help them understand how individual students learn, and support them in developing a challenging curriculum for whole classes.
The content framework will not offer rich preparation for teachers. To the contrary, it builds in low expectations of what teachers should know and entrenches a view of learning as based on the kind of rote-learning and memorisation with which England has become associated, according to the OECD.
The ultimate losers from the introduction of this framework will be the children and young people taught by teachers who have been caught in a narrow, ideological trap as part of their initial training.
Whatever party wins the general election, it should be a priority for the new education secretary to hit rewind and ensure that both children and teachers get something better by way of guidance.