ASCL comment on NFER research about problem-solving skills

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on research on future employment skills from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) which suggests problem-solving, critical thinking and communication will become increasingly essential in the next 15 years.
“This research provides more evidence of the need for a review of the current curriculum. While schools and colleges work very hard to encourage problem-solving, critical thinking and communication skills, they are doing so despite rather than because of government policy.
“The government’s programme of GCSE reform has resulted in courses which rely heavily on memorisation for a large set of terminal exams, while the performance measures it uses to judge schools are overly-focused on a suite of traditional academic subjects. This has resulted in disciplines such as creative arts subjects and design and technology, which promote creativity and innovation, being pushed to the edges of the curriculum. Furthermore, the school timetable is bulging at the seams trying to cover all the curriculum content.
“In our Blueprint for a Fairer Education System, we have proposed the establishment of a curriculum review body to determine a core national curriculum, focused on a relatively small number of carefully sequenced key concepts, with time and space around the core curriculum for all schools to develop their own local curricula.
“We have also proposed a reduction in the burden of assessment at 16. Taken together, these proposals would allow for fresh thinking on what knowledge and skills will be needed for the future, and timetables which are more able to ensure the curriculum is deliverable and meets the needs of all students.”