The new curriculum

The new curriculum that has be drafted out and launched is not a new concept. The idea of a new curriculum is always on the horizon. The interesting thing with this new proposal is that because there is such wide spread distrust for Michael Gove the new curriculum is feared. The new curriculum has been on a journey which I have wrote about.

First a panel of experts will examine the current national curriculum, which defines what is taught in England’s state schools. They will then make recommendation that will be feed into the curriculum.

The review panel was named as:

  • Tim Oates (chair) – director of assessment research and development at Cambridge Assessment
  • Bernice McCabe – head of North London Collegiate and co-director of the Princes’ Teaching Institute
  • John McIntosh – retired head of the London Oratory School
  • Sir Michael Wilshaw – head of Mossbourne Community Academy, Hackney, and director of education at ARK
  • Professor Dylan Wiliam – formerly a deputy director at the Institute of Education and professor of educational assessment
Some interesting names here, already you could see a hidden agenda in hindsight!

The review stated::

  • replace the current substandard curriculum with one based on the best school systems in the world and provide a world-class resource for teachers and children
  • consider what subjects should be compulsory at what age
  • consider what children should be taught in the main subjects at what age.

Michael Gove said this about the review and consultation period:

We have sunk in international league tables and the National Curriculum is substandard. Meanwhile the pace of economic and technological change is accelerating and our children are being left behind. The previous curriculum failed to prepare us for the future. We must change course. Our review will examine the best school systems in the world and give us a world-class curriculum that will help teachers, parents and children know what children should learn at what age.

This sounds like a good idea but Labour and teaching unions accused him of trying to foist 1950s-style education on to schools.

Mr Gove said the current curriculum was “sub-standard” and England had sunk in international education league tables, adding that 15-year-old maths students in China were now two years ahead of those in England. He said he wanted to reduce “unnecessary prescription” and that the curriculum would be slimmed down so that it reflected the “essential knowledge” that children should learn.

The current curriculum specifies what students should study in some subjects, such as maths, but outlines only broad areas in others, such as history, leaving teachers to decide on content. Mr Gove said the new national curriculum should “embody for all children in England their cultural and scientific inheritance, enhance their understanding of the world around them and introduce them to the best that has been thought and written”.

He said it should be informed by the best international practice.

The government has issued this statement with regard to the timing of the new curriculum.

The new National Curriculum will begin to be taught in maintained schools from September 2013. In order to allow schools time to manage the transition to the new curriculum effectively, the new Programmes of Study for English, mathematics, science, and physical education will be introduced from January 2013, with Programmes of Study for other subjects coming into force the following year. The review will also advise on how the new curriculum should be phased in for each key stage.

The government has said that English, maths, science and PE must remain compulsory for children of all ages.

The review will then decide on whether other subjects should also be required study for different age groups.
Currently schools must teach 13 compulsory subjects to children aged 5-7, rising to 14 for pupils aged 7-14 and then dropping to eight for 14-16-year-olds. The fourteen subjects are art and design, citizenship, design and technology, English, geography, history, ICT, mathematics, modern foreign languages, music, physical education, science, PSHE (personal, social, health and economic education) and religious education.

This again sound really good.

The curriculum like all things in education can never be static. I believe it’s a good thing that it is change although like so many I have a pessimistic feeling that this will not take education forward, like many of the commentators I believe this Gove style shake up will involve education regressing and taking a step backwards.

I am not the only one; many influential figures also share this opinion.
The NASUWT teaching union said teachers “want another curriculum review like a hole in the head”. General secretary Chris Keates said the review was “pointless” as ministers had “already determined that children should have a 1950s-style curriculum”.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said heads were “hoping for a significant reduction in the depth and breadth of prescription”. He said they wanted a curriculum “that covers the basics while leaving room for creativity, culture and excitement”.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was important that the government looked at the whole curriculum in a “holistic way” and recognised that it was not just about the transfer of knowledge but about the skills and range of experiences children received in school.

Andy Burnham, Labour education spokesman, said Mr Gove was “stuck in the past, foisting his 1950s vision of education on to today’s schools and students”. He said that alongside solid academic study, young people needed technical and social skills to succeed in the workplace and in life. “Michael Gove is trying to tell us today that he is consulting with parents and teachers on what should be taught in schools. But with the English Baccalaureate and the likely downgrading of ICT and citizenship, schools know that he has already made up his mind,” he said.

I am sure this new curriculum will come into place and like all other it will be worshiped by some and loathed by other.

To me the important thing is that the education that is delivered from this is outstanding in the way it benefits the children. After all this the continued red tape is useless if the end product does not benefit the children we teach.

Lets stop arguing and just make an education system that lets teachers be teachers and children learn as the professionals see best! 


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