The National Curriculum has been disastrous for primary education. Its institution was supported by a string of untruths, such as the commercial necessity of matching educational levels in other EU countries with such curricula, Germany being often quoted as an example. There was not and is not a national curriculum in Germany, nor in the many countries that have emulated the German system. Among many sins, the National Curriculum enforces the teaching of “science” to very young children. This “science” is utter, absurd, destructive nonsense. The understanding of science depends on a prior familiarity with mathematics. A child who is at A-level standard in mathematics can pick up A-level physics and chemistry in a few months, starting from scratch.
State education in this country has collapsed. Teachers no longer have pride in what they do. One definition of a “professional” used to be one who functions independently and whose abilities continually develop with time. This is incompatible with an interfering Ofsted. Unfortunately there are now many inept teachers, hardly surprising as the younger ones have grown up in an academically collapsed system. But if freed, schools might still pull themselves up by their bootlaces.
I am very well acquainted with A-level papers over the last 30 years, particularly with mathematics and physics. The degradation began around 1989 and accelerated insanely after 1997. Very few members of the public know the details, and teachers, who do know, have kept their mouths shut, to their shame. In the U.S. there is a standard college-entry examination, the SAT (nothing to do with the British SATs) that is claimed to have set a stable level for many, many years. The claim is more or less true. The examination is devised and administered by an independent agency. That agency has changed over the years, but the principle of independence has remained. It ought to be obvious that some equivalent in this country would be immensely useful in stopping the rot in pre-higher education examinations, and since results would have meaning, would render much of Ofsted’s work redundant.