Diversify the curriculum?


p.25 Guardian, Wednesday 2nd December, 2020

Ofsted chief resists calls to make England school curriculum more diverse

‘Teach science behind climate change not morality tale,’ says Amanda Spielman

The chief inspector of schools in England has pushed back against growing calls to make the national curriculum more diverse, warning against making curriculum changes based on a single issue or purpose.

Speaking at the launch of Ofsted’s annual report, Amanda Spielman said there were increasing efforts to “commandeer” schools and the curriculum in support of worthy social issues and campaigns, including environmental causes and tackling racism.

On the environment, she said all teaching about climate change should be grounded in science.

Asked whether she believed more should be done to make pupils feel represented through a more diverse curriculum, Spielman said: “I think my message would be don’t revise the curriculum in the context of a single issue or purpose – make sure that periodic reviews take all purposes into account.”

In the wake of global protests by the Black Lives Matter movement, there have been calls to diversify the curriculum in schools in England to include black British history and introduce more texts by black and ethnic minority writers into the the English literature curriculum.

Spielman said the curriculum was already broad and designed to give schools flexibility to adapt to circumstances. “The curriculum is there to serve many purposes, one of which is to make children feel represented, but there are so many others.”

Environmental activists meanwhile have complained that the national curriculum fails to reflect the urgency of the climate crisis, and have called for curriculum changes and even new qualifications.

Spielman said activists did not always notice how much schools were already doing on the issue, stressing the importance of science. “I think if it is not grounded in science there is no real understanding underneath it, it becomes a morality tale or something quasi-religious.