STRENGTHENING THE AUTHORITY OF THE
107. If the National Curriculum is to be managed
more proactively and strategically it is essential that the agency
with main responsibility for the development of the National Curriculum
is truly independent from the Department and carries authority.
Given the degree of consensus across the political parties
on the need for a national curriculum, the purposes it should
serve and what it might look like, we see no reason not to take
108. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority
(QCA) began operations in 1997 with a regulatory and non-regulatory
role in relation to the National Curriculum and qualifications.
In 2007 the Department announced the creation of a separate regulatory
body with responsibility for regulating qualifications and teststhe
Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator (Ofqual).
Once the relevant legislation is passed, Ofqual will be independent
of Ministers and will report to Parliament.
In this context the QCA will become a development agency for the
curriculum, assessment and qualifications. In its new form as
the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA) the
QCA's objective will be to "promote quality and coherence
in education and training in England".
It main role will be to provide advice to the Department and to
conduct or commission related research. It is to remain a Non-Departmental
Public Body (NDPB) accountable to Ministers. 
109. Concerns were raised in the evidence submitted
to us about the potential weakening of the QCA's independence
and authority once it becomes the QCDA.
The majority of comments on the future role of the QCA saw
the possibility that the Department might take on an even stronger
role in setting the direction for curriculum policy and, in doing
so, increase the likelihood that reforms will follow political
rather than educational imperatives. Professor Hargreaves, a former
Chief Executive of the QCA, commented:
] when the QCA was set up, the Secretary
of State could demand advice from it on any matter that he determined.
However, within the Act was a power for the QCA to give advice
to the Secretary of State, whether or not he wanted it. From time
to time, while there, I drew on that empowerment and gave advice,
although it was not always welcome. I hope that, under the new
arrangements, the QCA will be given the responsibility and power
to give advice whether called for or not. That is very helpful
to the QCA and gives it a degree independence [
The draft Apprenticeship, Skills, Children and Learning
Bill indicates that the QCDA will have the kind of remit that
Professor Hargreaves describes, but we would like its power extending
beyond this. We recommend that, as with the Office of the Qualifications
and Examinations Regulator, the Qualifications and Curriculum
Development Agency is made independent of Ministers and instead
required to report to Parliament through the Select Committee.
110. Some public appointments, including that of
the Chair of the QCDA, are subject to pre-appointment hearings
with the relevant Select Committee.
The involvement of this Committee, albeit in an advisory role,
in holding pre-appointment hearings with the nominee for the post
of Chair of the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency
will play an important part in maintaining the independence of
the Agency from the Government.
Establishing an overarching structure
for learning 0-19
111. One recommendation of the Rose Review interim
report is that the primary curriculum should follow the new secondary
curriculum in terms of being underpinned by a statutory set of
it suggests that the statement of aims for the secondary curriculum
"holds good for the primary phase, and indeed for the [Early
Years Foundation Stage]", and requests comments about the
statement's suitability in this regard.
We believe that, as well as considering the appropriateness of
the secondary curriculum statement of aims for the primary curriculum
and the Early Years Foundation Stage, the Rose Review should consider
the potential to apply the statement to 14-19 provision also.
This is particularly apt in the context of the decision to extend
the participation age to 18. Professor Ann Hodgson, Institute
of Education, University of London, argued that there should be
some form of aims-based curriculum entitlement for these learners:
In my view, we ought to have some form of curriculum
aims and purposes right up to the age of 19, not just to age 16.
That is not to say that everyone should be studying exactly the
same thing, but we as a country should have an idea of what we
wish an educated 19-year-old to have experienced throughout their
time in education. [
] we have a duty to think about what
kind of knowledge, skills, experience and aptitudes or capacities
we want to develop in young people [
112. We strongly recommend that an overarching
statement of aims for the National Curriculumencompassing
the Early Years Foundation Stage, National Curriculum and 14-19
learnersbe introduced, properly embedded in the content
of the National Curriculum, in order to provide it with a stronger
sense of purpose, continuity and coherence.
113. In addition, we recommend that a statement
of provision for learners from 0 to 19 is introduced, setting
out the fundamental knowledge and skills that young people should
have acquired at the end of compulsory education.
114. We recommend that the Early Years Foundation
Stage is brought within the National Curriculumand run
through the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority rather than,
as at present, the Department.
115. Bringing 14-19 provision under a shared set
of aims for the National Curriculum would have been easier under
the Tomlinson proposals for the Diploma. Our predecessor Committee,
the Education and Skills Committee, voiced its opinion on the
Tomlinson proposals in its 2007 Report 14-19 Diplomas.
We share the preference, outlined then, for an overarching diploma
that replaced all other qualifications for learners aged 14 to
116. We suggest that the review and reform of
the Early Years Foundation Stage, National Curriculum and 14-19
provision as a continuum and the bringing together of these frameworks
underneath an overarching statement of aims represent necessary
first steps to improving the continuity and coherence of the learning
opportunities presented to children and young people. These changes
must be accompanied by improved communication and co-ordination
between teachers and practitioners across the different phases