National Curriculum - Children, Schools and Families Committee Contents

Appendix 2—Comparison of the Rose and Cambridge Reviews

Comparison of the remit and recommendations of the Rose and the Cambridge Reviews of the primary curriculum

Taken from Cambridge Primary Review (2009), draft of part of the Review's final report, submitted to the Committee prior to publication.
STATUSCommissioned by government.

Based at DCSF.  

Team membership and management not specified, apart from review leadership and QCA involvement.


Based in a university.

Cambridge team together with 70 research consultants, guided by advisory committee, steered by management group. All named: details at


Treats current policy as mostly incontestable.  

Exclusive focus on curriculum.

Assessment/testing specifically excluded.


Treats no policy as beyond question.

Curriculum placed in broader context.

Assessment/testing included.

EVIDENCE569 mostly closed-response questionnaire returns; 2-month response deadline

'Unsolicited contributions'.

Commissioned evidence reviews from QCA and NFER.

School visits.

Stakeholder meetings.

Official data

Comments invited on interim report

Consultation with opposition parties: not known

818 open-response submissions: 6-month response deadline (latecomers

accepted). Average submission length: 30 pages.

28 commissioned research surveys from 70 academics in 21 universities and NFER, covering nearly 3,000 published sources.  

87 school-based regional 'community soundings'.

148+ stakeholder meetings, including conferences and 9 'national soundings' with major organisations, teachers and other professionals. In all, with the community soundings, over 235 meetings to date.

Official data.

Comments invited on interim reports.

Meetings with Conservative and Liberal Democrat education shadows/groups. 3 sessions to date with House of Commons Children, Schools and Families Committee.

REPORTS1 Interim report, December 2008.  

Final report scheduled March 2009.

29 interim reports, October 2007-May 2008.

37 briefings, October 2007-May 2008.

2-volume curriculum report January 2009.

Final report scheduled spring 2009.

REPORT PROVENANCE     Review leader named, but actual report authorship unclear.    

Very few evidential sources cited, almost entirely official or otherwise within the loop of current policy.

Review leader/report editors named.

All evidential sources cited, mix of official and independent.

PROBLEMSView of what is problematic dictated largely by the review's remit.

Witness concerns mainly restricted to what is covered by the consultation questionnaire.

Considers problems of perceived curriculum overload, unmanageability, progression/continuity from the EYFS, and transition to Key Stage 3. Also school starting age. Central concerns appear to be to reduce the number of subjects and simplify the programmes of study. An exercise in rearrangement rather than reform?

View of what is problematic dictated largely by the review's evidence.   

Witnesses determine their own concerns: exceptionally wide-ranging.

Considers all problems identified by Rose, plus: children's loss of entitlement to curriculum breadth and balance; curriculum impact of KS2 tests and the national strategies; marginalisation of the arts and humanities; the opposition of 'breadth and 'standards'; underlying problems in the way curriculum is conceived and discussed, especially in relation to subjects, knowledge and skills; character of specific subjects, notably English; centralisation, micro-management, and the balance of national, local and school in decision-making. Also, and fundamentally, asks what primary education is for and what its priorities should be.

AIMS & VALUES   Takes as 'platform' the 2007 Children's Plan and endorses as applicable to primary education the existing QCA aims for the secondary

Aims and curriculum devised separately; not necessarily consistent.

Starts from first principles: 12 aims for primary education to shape curriculum, pedagogy and school life, plus 18 procedural principles to guide the work of government, national bodies, local authorities and schools. Aims and principles grounded in the Review's evidence and independent analysis. Finds the QCA aims inadequate.

Aims devised first and then reflected in proposals for curriculum, pedagogy and the wider life of the school.

PRIORITIESLiteracy and numeracy given highest priority.  

Current 3-subject core (English, maths, science) replaced by four 'skills for learning and life' (literacy, numeracy, ICT, personal development).

Language, oracy and literacy given highest priority.

Current core replaced by mandatory commitment to high-quality teaching in all specified domains, regardless of how much time each is allocated.

FRAMEWORKCurriculum conceived as concentric circles of

(i) 3 DCSF/QCA secondary aims

(ii) 4 'skills for learning and life'

(iii) 6 'areas of learning'.  

Curriculum conceived as a matrix of

(i) 12 new aims for primary education

(ii) 8 domains of knowledge, skill, enquiry and disposition, all of which are essential

(iii) national and local/community components (below).

CONTENTThe six areas of learning essentially re-organise existing NC subjects under a smaller number of headings; little re-conceptualisation or revaluation apparent.

No clear perspective on community, culture, society and the world apparent.

Aims detached from curriculum.  

The domains derive (a) from the 12 aims, (b) from a list, grounded in the Review's evidence, of 15 kinds of knowledge, skill, enquiry and disposition which are essential to a properly-conceived primary education. They also build on the EYFS and lead readily to the KS3 curriculum.

The 8 domains incorporate familiar disciplines but also entail radical re-conceptualisation of, especially: language, oracy and literacy; citizenship and moral education; children's health,

emotional development and wellbeing.

The domains require much-enhanced public, political and professional understanding of the importance of science, the arts and humanities, and a challenge to the perception of the latter two as 'soft', undemanding or marginal.

Global, national and local dimensions of curriculum identified. Strong community orientation in response to widespread concern. Culture and cultural engagement are major elements.

In this reconceptualisation the 12 aims are crucial, for they set the educational priorities for the primary phase as a whole.

KNOWLEDGEStatus ambivalent; each 'area of learning' focuses more on 'understanding' than on knowing. Tendency to reductionism in treatment of knowledge and skill. Status unequivocal: knowledge, broadly conceived, is central, alongside a more discriminating concept of skill.


Disquiet about NLS/literacy component of PNS acknowledged, but main concern seen as primary/secondary strategy continuity.

National strategies to continue, with some rationalisation.

Problems with NLS/NNS/literacy and numeracy components of PNS, especially literacy, strongly conveyed by witnesses. Strategies' distortion of the language curriculum a major concern.

Literacy and numeracy components of PNS to be wound up in present form. Literacy and numeracy to be re-integrated with English and mathematics and re-framed in programmes for the new domains.

NATIONAL AND LOCAL Content to be described centrally  but in ways 'that allow for local interpretation'.   Curriculum combines statutory national and local components. Proposed allocations of yearly teaching time: National Curriculum 70%, Community Curriculum 30%. NC to be determined nationally, CC to be determined locally, by new bodies set up by LAs. Statutory national framework for the 8 domains, but national and local programmes of study non-statutory.
STRUCTURESAdvocates building on EYFS, but also lowering school starting age which some see as threat to EYFS.

Possibility of restructuring KS1/ as three 2-yearly phases hinted at.  

EYFS to be respected and built on. Proposals for starting age and clarifying EY/primary phasing will be in the final report.

See above.

CONSULTATION AND DEVELOPMENT Comments invited on the interim report, but the essentials of the proposed curriculum framework appear to be exempted since QCA is invited to have draft programmes of study for the six areas of learning ready by two months before the end of the consultation period.

No significant change to current curriculum and policy infrastructure envisaged.  

Open discussion invited on all issues. The report is presented as both the outcome of a two-year programme of evidence-gathering and consultation and a stimulus to further debate.

Success of the proposals seen as dependent on (a) reform of national

bodies, requirements and procedures, (b) loosening of central control, (c) rigorous professional capacity-building in local authorities, teacher training and schools, (d) deeper understanding of curriculum issues and resistance to the current knowledge/skills reductionism.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2009
Prepared 2 April 2009