Robert McCartney has sparked a debate about the value of the proposed “Enriched Curriculum” which shifts from traditional teaching methods in Key Stage 1 to more play based forms of learning. He believes evaluation research shows the approach fails the children in deprived communities and the reluctance of CCEA for the research to be published proves they have a secret agenda. The CCEA, Department of Education and researchers reject this. The dispute seems to be around what McCartney means by failure. The tentative conculsions show the enriched curriculum does not seem to deliver improved results so it does not fail in comparison with traditional methods:
“At the end of their third year, children in the first cohort in Shankill schools equalled the performance of control groups until (Sproule, Trew, Rafferty, Walsh, O’Neill, McGuinness, Sheehy 2003). Results for children in the second group of schools appear to be following the pattern of those in the Shankill schools. There are no measured gains as yet, except in oral language skills in the first two years, as measured by the Bus Story Test”
However, as it doesn’t seem to be leading to greater educational achievement/progress and thus not narrowing the educational gap between poorer and richer communities, should it be considered a failure?