The National Curriculum.

(199 Posts)
seeker Tue 11-Dec-12 12:13:59

People complain about it all the time.

Which bits of it do they not want their children to learn?

monica77798 Tue 11-Dec-12 13:17:16

I guess it is different for different people. But perhaps there are some parts that some people think is a waste of time for their children to learn when they could be learning something more worthwhile. Personally I think that maths, English and science are important, but perhaps more emphasis should be placed on basic maths skills (rather than quadratic equations etc that nobody is really going to use in life), but there should be more freedom and flexibility in other subjects and choice of subjects, so that children can explore topics that are of interest to them rather than subjects that are just going to send them to sleep.

LaVolcan Tue 11-Dec-12 14:09:03

(rather than quadratic equations etc that nobody is really going to use in life)

So research scientists don't live in real life?

seeker Tue 11-Dec-12 19:30:43

So you're saying that the national curriculum is too rigorous, Monica? Never heard that one before!

Ronaldo Thu 13-Dec-12 06:30:14

I am not sure it is so much what is taught as the prescribed way it has to be taught - with levels and targets ( and subsequent comparisons and recriminations for teachers).

In may areas pupils would be better taught things that are locally relevent to them and which will hold them in stead for any possible(?!) employment.

The curriculum is over crowded for many students. They cannot take it in. There is a lack of any time for more practical subjects and so probably 80% of pupils are poorly served as they might find some success in those practical skills which are disrespected in the NC.

I could go on about other things in the curiculum and why they are not valid but I wont.

seeker Thu 13-Dec-12 09:11:50

So that's two people saying it's too rigorous. Not what I was expecting qt all!

lljkk Thu 13-Dec-12 09:17:35

NC is regimented.
It's too stuck on sit-down learning styles.
The very existence of NC discourages innovation.
The marking schemes for NC levels are very rigid.

I don't think it's terrible, just too prescriptive. There should be room to teach cooking as science and history as also literacy; instead the NC tends to be require single categorisation, not helpful.

Startail Thu 13-Dec-12 09:39:38

Very rigid and introduces stuff to early and repeats it's self.

DDs do projects on WW2 at both KS2 and KS3, DD1 recycled chunks of hers.

Primary science is mostly a waste of time, most primary teachers are not scientist.

Cooking, studying their local environment, doing topics relevant to their pupils would all be more useful, than here's a battery here's a torch bulb.

It all has to be done again because 50% of the children are too young to get it.

The English curriculum is quite beyond me, I couldn't begin to mark practice long writing practices. The reading tests are hard.

My DDs happen to be very good at comprehensions and DD2 at English of any sort. However, looking at the papers I wonder how much lower and middle ability DCs get out of them. Yes they get their L4s, but how much would they learn doing slightly easier more accessible texts they might truly understand.

Maths is just dry and horrible for any child who has working memory problems because of the concentration on tables and mental maths.

BooksandaCuppa Thu 13-Dec-12 10:04:58

Yep, too prescriptive in terms of levels and sublevels (OK I know they don't officially exist and soon levels won't either) and assessment.

Primary English curriculum stifles creativity: obsessing over how many metaphors and adverbial phrases you've used does not a good writer make.

Primary curriculum generally is overcrowded. KS2 teachers I know of despair of receiving children whose reading and writing could/should be better but who've had to do electronics in yr 1 and 2. As one example.

Secondary curriculum is possibly too broad for less academic children. Foreign languages for students with a poor grasp of English, for a start. It should be more flexible and cater for these students. But I don't know how to solve the problem of deciding who and when these 'less academic' students are without getting it wrong. Without wishing to restart the grammar/sec mod/comp debate maybe one idea would be an opposite of the current division of the top 25% and have pure comps but ones where the 'bottom' 25% (should it be possible to work out who these are) were creamed off at, say, year 9 to do a reduced curriculum but increased life/vocational skills etc?

BooksandaCuppa Thu 13-Dec-12 10:08:53

Oh, and agree with Startail about primary science. I have no idea but imagine it's the one area of the primary curriculum which has the most varied teaching quality

We did a lot more natural history at primary in our day and I think that would still be interesting for students up to 11 and save some other areas of science for secondary?

LaVolcan Thu 13-Dec-12 11:02:54

Being able to deliver good primary science does seem to depend on having a teacher who specialises in Science during their training. In such a person's hands, ( just going by what I saw at my son's school and a school I worked in), it could be very stimulating and exciting. Otherwise, no it's not good.

I imagine that many school teachers lack scientific knowledge because it's only relatively recently that they have been required to have a science GCSE as a basic entrance requirement.

Personally I found at school, the 'nature table' - a clutter of objects dumped on a table - which was all the science we got, just completely turned me off.

throckenholt Thu 13-Dec-12 11:18:48

I think the National Curriculum is not the problem - it is the way it is implemented in schools. The current way is very limiting and very much taught to the test.

It is too prescriptive - in that it doesn't leave much room for exploring interesting stuff as it comes up.

I think the thing I hate most it that it pinpoints at what age any given thing is taught - regardless of the child - their interests and their abilities. Forcing a child to do something too soon can cripple their chances of ever understanding it.

It is control freakery gone mad.

Startail Thu 13-Dec-12 13:40:23

I did science right up to postgraduate level and the old science KS2 exam was by far the worst I've seen and l have done a lot of science exams.

Strangely worded and ambiguous questions accompanied by equally hard to follow drawings.

Answering them seemed to be very much a case of just learning the right phrase to put in the right box.

DD2 just didn't seem to do any science and still got L5 on teacher assessment.

Startail Thu 13-Dec-12 13:42:05

Mind you, GCSE science HW is pretty odd too.

Ronaldo Thu 13-Dec-12 13:53:09

Seeker - please read what is written. I for one ( of the so called two you cite) did notsay it was too rigorous but that it was innapropriate abd that it was prescribed ( lacks flexibility). Someone later used the word ridgid to describe it. I would concur with that.

I do not value being paraphrased wrongly. It leads to a lot of ill will and ill feeling eventually.

Ronaldo Thu 13-Dec-12 14:25:57

On a personal note -which might expalin what I feel is wrong with the NC, I do not want my DS to be in a state school partly because of the NC. He is an able child ( by any ones assessment and without being big headed on my part!) and the NC wont suit his needs or abilities. In fact, rather than rigour, it is "teaching and learning by numbers". The exact opposite of what I want for my DS.

It is not by accident that the best schools in the country are private and do not use NC.

vess Fri 14-Dec-12 13:52:50

It can be great if done properly.
However, it's neither broad enough, nor rigorous enough. And if you have the misfortune to live near a primary school where they've decided "to make it relevant to children's own experience", then your children will spend years writing about footballers and pop stars instead of literature and history.

seeker Fri 14-Dec-12 20:09:56

I'm sorry Ronaldo.

It was you saying "The curriculum is over crowded for many students. They cannot take it in" which made me think you thought it was too rigorous.

If what you meant was "too difficult for the lumpen proletariat, but not rigorous and academic enough for my wunderkind" perhaps you should have said so.

mrz Sat 15-Dec-12 10:29:18

The NC isn't rigid quite the opposite. Are people confusing it with the non statutory Literacy/Numeracy strategies/frameworks and the QCA units for other subjects?

I agree it's overcrowded.

Cat98 Sat 15-Dec-12 18:40:34

Ronaldo - surely your point about private schools is partly due to smaller class sizes, entrance levels of pupils, disposable income, engaged/pushy parents, work ethic and level of competition? The fact that many teach purely to pass exams may also play a part but this may be controversial..

Ronaldo Sat 15-Dec-12 20:19:53

Ronaldo - surely your point about private schools is partly due to smaller class sizes, entrance levels of pupils, disposable income, engaged/pushy parents, work ethic and level of competition? The fact that many teach purely to pass exams may also play a part but this may be controversial.

Actually I think it is a myth (one promulgated on MN too often although I have avoided the controversy) that all the parents of DC in private schools are asyou describe above or that the schools have highly selective levels of intake and "pushy" parents.

Frequently the differences between DC in state schools and those in private ones are similar to each other and as diverse. Not all have pushy parents. In fact many in our boarding dept are dumpred by their parents who want lives free of their DC. Many more are dumped on us because their parents are ashamed of their lacj of ability or they are challenging in some way behavioiurally and we have to sort it out. many more day pupils are dumped on us and we are expected to superbise homework ( prep) and offer support because the parents, frankly are CBA.

Thats the hard reality. I agree we have smaller classes. I agree we have parents who come from slightly higher income groups beyond that, little is different than in state school.

We do instill as schools an ethic of work and of pride and often DC thrive with us because of discipline and no DC with challenging behaviour. DC with challenging behaviour are invited to leave us very quickly. I know most independent schools will operate similar systems in many ways - especially those who do not select heavily ( many despite what the myth says).

But we are nearly all free of the NC. This does allow a balanced curriculum , not one which is crowded with political correctness and too many subjects and a policy of teaching which never seems to do more than place rootless flowers in pretty vases. Often less is far more in the long run.

Not many parents really know what independent schools do and dont teach IMHO.

LaVolcan Sat 15-Dec-12 21:00:34

Ronaldo those will challenging behaviour are asked to leave us very quickly. I am sure that nearly all schools would like to take that easy option but unfortunately it's not available to them.

We are nearly all free of the National Curriculum. Bully for them. Where do you think the NC came from? Did the state school teachers demand this? My recollection is that this was a government initiative. However, state schools are bound by law and have to do their best to make it work.

seeker Sat 15-Dec-12 22:15:12

" DC with challenging behaviour are invited to leave us very quickly"

I'm wondering why this is something to be proud of.......

mrz Sat 15-Dec-12 22:24:00

"Many more are dumped on us because their parents are ashamed of their lacj of ability or they are challenging in some way behavioiurally and we have to sort it out."

"DC thrive with us because of discipline and no DC with challenging behaviour. DC with challenging behaviour are invited to leave us very quickly."

aren't these two statements contradictory ...you admit in the second to failing

TheOriginalSteamingNit Sat 15-Dec-12 22:30:58

I do actually agree, having looked at various sixth forms lately, that history a level is too twentieth century based.

And English is messed up across the board: too much emphasis on 'the reader' and what the readers emotional response might be to things. At degree level, this takes some painful beating out of students.

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