Set texts

12:43 by Editor · 0 Post a comment on AAWR

It is not the Government's job to hand out reading lists

When he launched the National Year of Reading, Ed Balls, the Children's Secretary, was pictured engrossed in a book called Keeping Pet Chickens. Now that the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill contains a clause that would permit the secretary of state to decide which books children must be examined on at GCSE and A level, it may not be long before Keeping Pet Chickens is mandatory.

”permit the secretary of state to decide which books children must be examined on at GCSE and A level...”

Ministers insist that the power would be exercised only as a last resort, in the unlikely event, for example, that Shakespeare had stopped cropping up in examinations. The reasons for using the power would need to be stated in a published memorandum between the department and the regulator. The secretary of state can already intervene in the curriculum because the relevant authority answers to him. The new clause refers, strictly speaking, to examinations. But nobody can be examined on books that they have not studied so it also refers, in effect, to the curriculum.

It is not that there is anything wrong with Mr Balls's taste in books. He has listed his favourite books as a child: Enid Blyton's Famous Five adventures, Malcolm Saville detective stories called the Lone Pine Adventures, The Wind in the Willows and, his professed favourite, Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome.

But there is no need to mandate specific reading from the centre. There is no need for this new power to be taken.  continues here

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