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More school control means more choice'

PUBLISHED: 15:14 15 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:32 25 August 2010

CONCERN: Peter Dalton.

CONCERN: Peter Dalton.

A HEADTEACHER said schools with more control over what they teach, could give parents and students more choice.

A HEADTEACHER said schools with more control over what they teach, could give parents and students more choice.

Peter Dalton, headmaster at Hextable School, Swanley, criticised the national curriculum for forcing struggling pupils to learn too many specifics.

His comments came after a select committee of MPs reported that the core national curriculum had become 'bloated' and should be slimmed down.

Mr Dalton said: "It would give us more flexibility, which would mean we could tailor students' curriculum to their particular needs.

"I do think that a core national curriculum is very useful, but the issue is that too much is packed into it.

"That is definitely the case with young people who struggle with literacy and maths.

"Being on a programme that constantly forces them to keep moving ahead makes life difficult."

Ofsted inspectors report that the performing arts school has saw GCSE results improve significantly, despite pupils starting off with abilities below the national average.

Time spent on specific areas of geography and history could be used for teaching learning skills to struggling pupils, the Hextable head explained.

He added: "If we had more flexibility at Key Stage Three, we could lessen the content load and make sure those pupils make progress where they need it."

Conversely, grammar school pupils are also held back by the government because they cannot sit tougher exams, said John Welsh, head of Bexley Grammar School.

The head who took over the Welling-based school last year said he would welcome a slimmer national curriculum, but that it was more important to allow students to sit International GCSES (iGCSEs).

The government's exams watchdog, Ofqual, reported in March that the low standard of GCSEs was a "serious cause for concern".

Mr Welsh said: "It seems odd to me that more freedom is being given with regard to the National Curriculum while the challenge and rigour of iGCSEs are still being denied to bright state school pupils.

"My request to allow our top science students to take this exam is still being turned down despite Ofqual accrediting the course and reporting that the standard GCSE lacks challenge."

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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