Gove’s decision on the EBCs took attention away – initially at least – from another big announcement made on the same day, as England’s helter-skelter reform programme continues: the detail of the entire draft the new national curriculum for first teaching from 2014.
But it is a fair bet that controversy on that front is not going to let up. One person seriously unhappy with one aspect of the proposed primary maths curriculum is Anne Watson, professor of maths education at the University of Oxford.
Watson was involved in the drafting of the document, but says that concerns about the inclusion of long division in the new programmes of study, registered by her and most of the maths teaching community including the overarching Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education, have been ignored by ministers.
Writing to the Guardian, Watson argues that long division is a “ping pong between the government and maths educators”, most of the latter believing that specifying it in the curriculum is not the best way of preparing children for secondary education.
“Why on earth is a government interfering at this level with the teaching of a subject?” she asks, adding that there appears to have been a “blatant disregard” for what is known about how children learn maths by either ministers, their advisers, or both. The government has defended long division as the “most efficient” calculation method.