A Lords cross-party select committee, of which Alistair Lexden was a member, spent several months last year looking in detail at the way pupils between the ages of 11 and 16 are being taught in schools.
The committee stated in its report last December that “the 11-16 curriculum must be revised to incorporate a greater emphasis on technical, digital and creative areas of study.” It continued: “Creative, technical and vocational subjects have seen a dramatic decline in take-up. Opportunities to experience more practical, applied forms of learning have become increasingly limited.”
A Lords debate on these and other proposals in the report will be held in due course. Alistair Lexden highlighted their importance through an oral question in the Lords on 8 February.
He asked: “Do the Government agree that the report of your Lordships’ Education for 11-16 Year Olds Committee requires careful study by all political parties in an election year, showing as it does how an overloaded curriculum and an unduly heavy exam burden can be reduced and how declining opportunities to study technical and creative subjects can be reversed? Are not such reforms essential for the future of our country?”
All those who contributed to the short discussion that followed agreed. A Liberal Democrat education expert said the “committee proved that the curriculum is overloaded with knowledge-based subjects, does not include enough digital or computing, and in a lot of schools the arts are completely neglected.” Lord Baker, the greatly respected former Education Secretary in the 1980s, declared that British industry “wants school leavers to have practical skills, employability skills and data skills, and these are not effectively covered by the present curriculum.”
The report in question, Requires improvement: urgent change for 11-16 education, was published by the House of Lords on 12 December 2023.