Evidence shows that children from the poorest homes hear only 13 million words by the time they are aged four, 32 million words less than children from affluent households.
The figure, given to the government-ordered review of the primary school curriculum, has prompted a campaign to ensure parents spend more time talking to their children and that children struggling to read get more help. Meanwhile in schools the curriculum will move from a subject based approach to a themes based if the progressivists have their way.
While Sir Jim Rose, the former director of schools for Ofsted – the education standards watchdog – who is heading the review, wants to keep the spotlight on improving literacy and numeracy the “progressivist” core in education circles want to move away from traditional approaches. The two are, to a large extent, incompatible.
Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, asked Sir Jim to steer clear of tackling the issue of national curriculum tests for 11-year-olds, but Sir Jim has already told MPs that the tests have been “the elephant in the room” that everybody (mainly teachers) wants to address. He wants to cut the time spent in the last two years of primary school teaching to the test.
No doubt Sir Jim Rose knows that the test is a measure of numeracy and literacy.