chapter  8
12 Pages

Instrumental Enrichment − Is This the Answer to Raising Standards of Achievement in Our Schools?

Concern with academic standards has been growing over the last few decades. The introduction of comprehensive education for all meant that students who had previously been paid little attention in the education system were faced with curricula designed for the most able and there was a consequent fall in academic performance. With this came the realisation of the wide range of intellectual ability which is now found in secondary schools. This led to the introduction of many courses which involved practical activity, such as the Nuffield courses, but made little use of thinking skills. The orientation towards business and competition in the 1980s led to increasing criticism of standards within the education system (judged mainly by public examination results) by both politicians and the public. The National Curriculum was introduced on the assumption that the publishing of desired standards of achievement would automatically lead to a raising of standards by improving instruction. However, the first Key Stage 3 tests in science, for example, resulted in only 14% of pupils achieving level 6 in the National Curriculum rather than the expected 50%. Recent results released by the Government (Young, 1996) show that 27% of 14 year olds are reaching level 6. Adey and Shayer (1994) believe, therefore, that the National Curriculum was introduced on a false assumption and that it was short-sighted to assume that standards of achievement would be raised.