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Primary Education Shake-up in England

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  1. Read the text and find the answers to the following questions:

· What changes to primary school curriculum are recommended?

· When will the changes be officially fixed?

· What does English preschool curriculum feature?

· What is the reason for introducing change in Key Stage 1 curriculum?

· What is the situation with early childhood education in the USA?

· What do British politicians think of Rose Review?

 

Americans aren't the only ones expecting national-level policy changes in early childhood education. In England, schools are preparing for what could be the biggest shake-up in primary education in decades, according to news reports. In early December, Sir Jim Rose, an advisor to English Schools Secretary Ed Balls, issued an interim report on the state of English primary education. His recommendation: Shift away from teaching about discrete subjects and introduce more opportunities for children to play and develop cognitive and motor skills.

The final recommendations of the Rose Review, as his report is called, are not expected until later this year and, if accepted by the government, they won't be in place until 2011. But, the new ideas have already caused a stir in England. Not only do they represent a major shift away from the National Curriculum of 1988, a set of concepts that are supposed to guide the instruction of all English students beginning in preschool. These changes come with a concerted emphasis on early education and early education alignment. On that last point, especially, U.S. policymakers should take note.

Many of the recommendations in the Rose Review focus on children aged 5 and 6 -- the two years known in England as Key Stage 1. The report recommends scrapping the current curriculum that specifies 12 subjects for mastery, such as history, geography, music and art, and replacing it with six more broadly drawn "areas of learning," including "human, social and environmental understanding" and "understanding the arts and design." This change would mean that Key Stage 1 would look less like the Key Stage 2 curriculum, which is for ages seven to 11, and align it instead with the curriculum for the public preschool program, called the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). The preschool curriculum features more play-based learning and is also built around six areas of learning and development, which are similar to the six "areas of learning" proposed by the Rose Review.

What is driving these changes is growing evidence (found in this report from the U.K.'s National Foundation for Educational Research and elsewhere) that a child's transition from preschool to the first year of formal schooling can be abrupt, unsettling and foreign to young children who are suddenly expected to sit still for longer periods of time and offered less time for play. The Rose Review says schools can ease this transition by extending play-based learning into the upper grades.

The preschool-to-kindergarten transition is a big issue in the U.S., too. In 1998, the National Education Goals Panel prodded educators to smooth the transition to help achieve its goal of having all children kindergarten-ready. Some states and school districts have developed their own transition programs. They include calling parents ahead of the first day of school, holding open houses and distributing flyers. Yet these efforts are often too little, too late. Many are hampered because children come to kindergarten from a diverse array of preschools and registration continues late into the summer. Teachers often do not know who their students are until a few days before classes start, if then.

Officials from both sides of the political aisle in England have qualms about Rose's recommendations, according to media reports. Conservatives worry that re-aligning parts of the curriculum with preschool years could erode standards, and Liberals want teachers to have more freedom to set their own priorities, though the report does appear to give them control over how they teach. Could a similar debate be kindled here in the United States as we find new approaches to linking preschool to elementary education? Until we know how proposed reforms will look, it's hard to say, but "building up" from the early years is a strong step in the right direction.

 

______________________

shake-up – реорганизация

interim – промежуточный

concerted – согласованный

scrap – выбрасывать, списывать

prod – принуждать

qualms – сомнения, беспокойство

 

  1. Look through the text again and find words and constructions you may use in your professional discourse (scientific terms etc.). Translate and memorize them.
  2. Find the transcription of the following words and practise pronouncing them: guide, alignment, environmental.
  3. Decide whether the following statements are true or false according to the text:

· The changes in primary education are expected both in the UK and the USA.

· Rose Review recommendations concern the methods, not the principles stated in the National Curriculum of 1988.

· Subject teaching will be eliminated from primary school.

· Rose Review deprives teachers of all independence and initiative.

 


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