Gove on Question Time

(133 Posts)
ipadquietly Fri 22-Mar-13 20:17:47

What a disappointment on so many levels:
1. The panel was totally ignorant about the details of the new curriculum, and, because of this, could only play lip service to Gove.
2. No-one in the audience made any points to challenge Gove. Indeed the only teacher to make a comment happened to work in an independent school which didn't have to follow the curriculum.
3. The challenges from the panel were anecdotal - Horowitz harping on about the parlous state of literacy; one of the women (?) harping on about being a school governor but seemingly knowing nothing about the new curriculum and the labour woman spouting anecdotes about her children (I mean.... politician on Question Time spouting anecdotes about her children shock) with zero political argument.

It gave the slimy little toad a chance to speak crap and get an almost standing ovation.

I could have screamed.

muminlondon Fri 22-Mar-13 21:09:17

I'm glad you have started this thread and you are absolutely right with all your comments. Emily Thornberry for Labour was poor - kept interrupting but without any new point to make. The Green Party spokeswoman (Natalie Bennett, had to look that up) was good but not given much opportunity to speak. Gove was not challenged at all - the unworkable nature of the curriculum, too much packed in at inappropriate ages, history taught in chronological order from aged 7 never to be repeated. He was so rude and dismissive. And then everyone clapped like penguins when he waffled on about the English language being a 'wonderful instrument'.

Elibean Fri 22-Mar-13 21:27:40

Oh how I wish I had the chance to ask him one or two questions myself angry

grovel Fri 22-Mar-13 23:11:00

I think that Gove may well be wrong but I admire him for having a vision of a well-educated child of whatever ability. I've got no sense of that from the unions. They know what they want for themselves - I've got no clue what they want for children (apart from the meaningless and self-serving platitudes on their websites).

ipadquietly Fri 22-Mar-13 23:23:19

But how do you 'teach' a child if they are unable to absorb that knowledge? The draft curriculum assumes that every child will be able to access the (unrepeated) curriculum. There are children in my Y2 class who have trouble understanding words like 'island' and 'machine' and we have to 'preteach' topics because of their lack of vocabulary. What are they going to make of democracy, peasantry, heptarchy, crusades...... ideas totally outside their (very narrow) frame of reference?

The whole idea is a produce of an arrogant upper middle class, which is totally ignorant of the problems in primary schools - lack of vocabulary, social problems, neglect, EAL, etc.

Sometimes, we have enough trouble trying to decide what day it is (and I do repeat the exercise...time and time again).

muminlondon Sat 23-Mar-13 00:19:10

That's really well put. Learning is a spiral - it gets wider and broader each time you pass the same familiar signposts and suddenly more of it clicks into place. With this curriculum, you get what one historian described as 'a seven-year-old understanding of the Saxons, a 10-year-old understanding of the Middle Ages and a 14-year-old understanding of the industrial revolution'. What happens to those kids who just don't get it the first time, get ill, whose parents lose their house because of benefit cuts, who is dyslexic or as switched off as the majority of the population by the 'heptarchy'?

Gove isn't listening to historians, academics, or teachers - the people who know children, who know how to do the job and what works. He's just writing the curriculum himself based on his own memories of school. It's just so weird and insanely arrogant. Teachers in private schools are in the same unions as those in state schools - so that they can get a pension and liability insurance. And that's radical?

I trust teachers - Gove meanwhile is on another planet.

feelokaboutit Sun 24-Mar-13 23:51:59

Yes I agree OP, why wasn't he challenged on Question Time? My kids' primary school is in the process of being forced to become an academy... (http://savegladstoneparkschool.blogspot.co.uk/).

Some of us had tweeted Natalie Bennett asking her to challenge him on forced academies (the Green Party is the only party to have publicly come out against this, though individual members of the other parties are opposed) but she didn't. Of course she must have had hundreds of tweets and isn't necessarily going to do what each one says but I gather that the most oppositional thing she said to him (according to h, I was sleeping unfortunately) was that he should "listen" more.

Considering that there are so many issues which he could have been challenged upon (and yes, the curriculum is up there at the top), I too am cross that he wasn't, and to hear about the ovation he got when talking about the English language - that's just angryangryangry.

feelokaboutit Sun 24-Mar-13 23:52:55

Sorry, the school website is: savegladstoneparkschool.blogspot.co.uk/

feelokaboutit Sun 24-Mar-13 23:56:13

The whole idea is a produce of an arrogant upper middle class, which is totally ignorant of the problems in primary schools - lack of vocabulary, social problems, neglect, EAL, etc.

Totally agree with this.

tethersend Mon 25-Mar-13 00:08:15

What irked me was that the panel seemed to agree with his spurious assertion that creativity is only possible when a base of academic knowledge has been acquired.

The entire EYFS says that it's the other way around.

Hamishbear Mon 25-Mar-13 02:36:33

I think that's right to a degree though, learn the science before the art & agree with this statement I heard:

'Rote learning is the trellis the free thinker can climb'.

India Knight has written a good article in the Times that touches on some of this, will come back and quite from it when I get time a bit later.

Hamishbear Mon 25-Mar-13 02:37:59

'Quote' from it I mean.

tethersend Mon 25-Mar-13 07:25:33

What about children's creative play?

It's widely acknowledged that children need to play creatively before acquiring academic skills.

That's not just my opinion- Check the EYFS.

Hamishbear Mon 25-Mar-13 07:56:36

I think there's a place for both.

As India Knight concluded in her article: School is school. You learn stuff and it’s hard work. And, yes, homework is a drag, but there you go. Do it and then you can play and draw and daydream. You can spend entire weekends pretending to be a pony, or Doctor Who, and canter about for the whole holidays.

But when you’re at school, you are being given the tools that, if you work hard and are lucky, may help you to end up doing something fantastic. The tools are about to improve dramatically. What kind of person would begrudge children that?

Engelsemama Mon 25-Mar-13 08:02:38

Did anyone read his article in the Mail this weekend? It's clear that he despises teachers and has no respect for them. We're all 'leftist Marxists' apparently.

It makes me very glad I'm not teaching in the UK anymore (not that the system here is perfect - far from it - but politicians don't seem to be able to make such sweeping changes with so little consultation).

Yellowtip Mon 25-Mar-13 08:09:12
wordfactory Mon 25-Mar-13 08:20:59

I'm not a fan of Mr Gove, but I must say I have some sympathy with what he is trying to do.

The primary curiculum in the UK has wandered to far away from rigour, in an effort to be engaging.

The gap between what and how prep schools teach is becoming a gulf, and that can't be right. That has to be looked out, rather than thoughtlessly defended.

Yellowtip Mon 25-Mar-13 08:29:15

So word, are you thoughtlessly dismissing what these academics have to say? Take History for example. Your comment?

wordfactory Mon 25-Mar-13 08:38:47

No I'm not yellow.

But nor do I think those academics (or indeed any of the academics I know and chat to each week) are defending the current curiculum wholesale.

Most of critical of certain aspects of it. Most think it needs a proper rethink.

There must be middle ground here, surely?

Hamishbear Mon 25-Mar-13 08:55:54

The gap between what and how prep schools teach is becoming a gulf, and that can't be right. Yes, Word.

From the Times yesterday: (Michael Wilshaw) He intervened after 100 professors of education wrote to newspapers yesterday calling the Education Secretary Michael Gove’s re-written curriculum “endless lists of spellings, facts and rules”. They said it would stifle critical thinking and creativity.
Sir Michael said children needed an element of rote learning, a grasp of basic facts and to master reading, writing, spelling, punctuation and grammar before they could learn at a higher level, and many prep and private schools used a similar approach.

“I am extremely upset and concerned that there should be this level of criticism for what I think is absolutely essential - more rigour in the national curriculum and a greater focus on basic skills,” Sir Michael said.

*A lot of this stuff patronises our youngsters, to say ‘all this is nonsense, they don’t need this level of knowledge, they don’t need these basic skills to be able to do that’.
“Of course they do. If you look at the private schools, what the prep schools do, there is an emphasis on acquiring those basic skills and that level of knowledge. And this sort of stuff does a huge amount of damage.”*

tethersend Mon 25-Mar-13 09:04:26

Sir Michael Wilshaw is an odious cunt has a certain agenda, IMO.

And forgive me if I take the word of educational experts over that of, err... India Knight (?) when it comes to children's learning.

tethersend Mon 25-Mar-13 09:07:11

The fact that independent schools are not obliged to teach the national curriculum should not be overlooked when comparing the outcomes against state schools.

That and the economic background of the cohort, which has a huge impact on educational achievement.

Hamishbear Mon 25-Mar-13 09:14:55

India Knight doesn't set herself up as an expert of course but her observations were interesting and on the money when she said:

These proposals are, to me, socialist in their intention, which is to equip every child with the sort of education that has traditionally been available to only a very few. How is that wrong? And what do left-leaning academics think they’re doing when they say, “Ooh, no, the children won’t understand any of it; it’s bad for them”? What? As bad as the fact that state-school students are still shamefully under-represented at our top universities?

Yellowtip Mon 25-Mar-13 09:20:06

So tell me word, what is the view of your resident academic Historian with regard to the current NC and what is his or her view of the draft NC? (I take History since it's first on the Guardian list). It's worth getting into the nitty gritty on this one because there are too many headlines flying about. Take any other subject if you prefer (since perhaps it's not Historians with whom you commune).

rabbitstew Mon 25-Mar-13 09:26:03

Well, I really don't think there is a place for 4-year olds to do huge amounts of rote learning. When is the new curriculum planning for this greater emphasis on rote learning to start? At a more appropriate age for formal education, I hope?

tethersend Mon 25-Mar-13 09:27:01

India- is that you? grin

If I thought for one second that Gove's proposals would improve academic attainment, I'd embrace them wholeheartedly.

To imply that anyone who does not agree with the proposals is against improving attainment is, well, odd. And quite ridiculous.

Hamishbear Mon 25-Mar-13 09:40:35

Rabbit I am with you about 4 year olds & rote learning - all mine did at that age was play with mud and sand - but friends in Asia have a different view and now sometimes I wonder.

Whilst believe that not all children are born equal in terms of their intellectual capacity, they tell me the brain is highly neuroplastic in the early years. Since birth, synaptic connections are made between brain cells and these are constantly pruned as the brain matures. So, they say, the more stimulation a child gets, the more connections are formed, so there's really no limit as to how much more one can achieve when given the right environment and stimulation. So I have quite a few friends that expose their children to a second and third language and times tables etc very young indeed (they say that they may as well know them - in case of times tables - and then they can use them as an arithmetic tool as required - the understanding part comes later). The children are very normal and well balanced smile.

Mine were behind for quite a while as I did nothing at home - beyond sharing picture books in the early years - and they came to reading and writing around 7.

Yellowtip Mon 25-Mar-13 09:45:51

Hamish I find the Asian approach terrifying.

Hamishbear Mon 25-Mar-13 10:12:56

Yellowtip, jumping in here re: History if I may. May I ask for your help re: the below? You clearly know about History. Read this in the Times:

Ofsted subject experts contributed to the new national curriculum and Sir Michael himself was involved in the programme of study for history, which he used to teach. “I was always a very robust critic of the history programmes of study,” he said. “The thematic approach, as far as I’m concerned, didn’t work well. Youngsters didn’t really have a good understanding of sequence and chronology and when things happened.

They therefore didn’t have that robust understanding of what we all want youngsters to have, which is how society has developed in the way that it has and what were the key events in history which shaped out present society.”

From a personal point of view YES to the last paragraph. I find I am very muddled in my thinking - I went from WW2 to 17 and 18th Century French Kings at A'level. Prior to that in primary I seem to have jumped about a lot. Robust understanding? No, I wish!

Of course I can look things up but I always envied Prep school friends & their parents (earlier at Prep school) who knew about: Bible days, The King and the Oak (Ceres was a Greek goddess - who knew? Certainly not me), Geoffrey of Monmouth - the First Great Story Teller, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Britain Long Ago moving on to King Lear, Boadicea, Julius Ceasar visiting Britain, St Alban, King Alfred the Great and the coming of the Danes, Norman Conquest, William the Conqueror, Hereward The Wake (a bit of poetry thrown in), Thomas a Becket (with a bit of Tennyson), Richard the Lion-Heart and the Crusades, King John/Great Charter, Simon de Monfort, the First Prince of Wales, Edward the Black Prince, Joan of Arc, Printing, Thomas Wolsey, Good Queen Bess, The Armada, Sir Francis Drake, Pilgrim Fathers, Great Writers of the Stuart Period: John Milton, John Bunyan, The Plague and the Great Fire of London, Clive and India, Wolfe and Canada, John Wesley, The First President of the USA, Napoleon and Wellington, Burns and Scott, Queen Victoria, End of Slavery 1833, Florence Nightingale, The Relief of Lucknow, George Stephenson, Union of South Africa, King Edward and Queen Alexandra, Earl Haigh etc... Seniors in their cases did Egyptians and Romans.

I would have KILLED for the above - although I know it's old fashioned and outmoded, and think we'd herald an 11 year old with encyclopedic knowledge of the above as a genius these days. (The only people with this sort of immediate general knowledge now are of Judith Keppel's - Who Wants To Be a Millionaire fame - generation and lauded as remarkable. They used to be all over the place in our Junior schools in the 20s and 30s in the days before X factor and reality TV). Interestingly the old history text books I have suggest every teacher should have a map in the classroom that they point to and refer back to.

I am trying to share some of the above with my children but the problem is they think they should be dressing up as Romans - as they do at school -and making silly jokes (thank you Horrible Histories smile.

I do think it's very sad that the above used to be taught in Junior Schools a long time ago and much of it will be lost forever to many children. Ok, it might not be PC and the world has moved on but haven't we thrown the baby out with the bath water?

Hamishbear Mon 25-Mar-13 10:15:18

Yellowtip - it might look that way from the outside but (and I can only speak for those I know) it is far more balanced than it might appear to 'outsiders'. School only goes on for half a day in many places which means there's more time too. School ends at 1:30pm for my friends so they have the whole afternoon to fit in some extra study, sport and yes, lots of play.

rabbitstew Mon 25-Mar-13 10:47:56

Hi, Hamishbear. My eldest ds1 is excellent at learning by rote. It was absolutely no effort for him to learn his times tables by the age of 5 - he had an interest in it and taught himself. He can also tell you the dates of all the Kings and Queens of England. However, my younger ds2 is far better at applying his knowledge. Ds1 needs more help learning how to use what he knows, so I fear for a curriculum which will make him look astonishingly clever throughout primary school, only to realise at secondary that you actually have to do practical and creative things with everything you have learnt.
As for the teaching of history, I fail to see in what way teaching children about early history as tiny children and then going through it chronologically throughout primary school is going to help those children get a real understanding of the chronology of history. How much do you remember of what you were taught (and did not revisit) at the age of 4 or 5? What I really enjoyed and gave me a better view of history as the Cambridge History Project. At GCSE level, I learnt about the history of medicine over a vast swathe of time (right back to trepanning in the Stone Age), I did an in-depth study of the Elizabethans, I learnt about the Arab-Israeli conflict as a piece of ongoing history, and I learnt about castles and the evidence you can gather from visiting historic sites. That was interesting and useful history. What Michael Gove seems to want is a very partial view of history, including a lot of Kings, Queens and battles - lots of rote learning and picking of the bits of history that Michael Gove is interested in.

rabbitstew Mon 25-Mar-13 10:51:14

I do agree with you, however, that teaching little bits of history without fitting them into some kind of timeline, and never teaching any kind of history which covers a long timeline, and allowing the same era to be taught several times without adding to the knowledge or skills while doing it (ie accidentally, because you didn't know some children had already studied it) is not great.

Copthallresident Mon 25-Mar-13 11:08:16

HamishBear Your are not in the UK, the indies are running about reassuring parents that they will not be bound by the demands of an overly restrictive and prescriptive curriculum that will indeed fail to inspire and prepare pupils for study at higher levels . My DDs Head is particularly outspoken about the way in which the proposals that have failed to include the teaching professionals and academics in their development.

I am particularly caught up in the completely unanimous response of the academic and teaching professions to the proposed History curriculum, it really is a return to "Our Island Story" but as written by Mr Gove (not even as witty and engaging as 1066 and all that). I couldn't have put it better than it is put in the article yellowtip posted. Surely from where you are logging on you can see the dangers of such a narrow anglocentric view. Even the few Historians Gove did consult and were supposedly involved in the drafting have washed their hands of it as it was completely drained of all meaning in Gove's redrafting.

Agreed, I was furious at the way Gove went unchallenged on Question Time.

musicalfamily Mon 25-Mar-13 11:22:46

I am very critical of the way this government seems so bad at consulting with and listening to the experts, this is not only in education but other matters such as health reforms. I don't have enough experience to assess the new curriculum but I would have thought that if ALL professionals are against it they must have valid reasons.

Having said that, I do have experience of what my children are taught in terms of history at their (outstanding) primary and it is frankly rather thin on the ground.

Yes I do have one son who delights in reading the History of Britain at playtime and knows every date and fact in chronological order; but for all the other children, including my other 3, they have absolutely no idea of history in comparison to their peers in my country of origin, for example.

I have looked at children's history textbooks there and they are very well made, simple, inspiring, yet full of interesting facts - not sure why we can't have something similar - we don't need to look that far...

Xenia Mon 25-Mar-13 11:23:14

I hope all children are taught the chronology of history. They are mostly interested in that - where we started and how we got to where we are now. If they change to children have a better overview that sounds like a good plan. I am sure my children have done that (in fee paying schools). You can see the sequence in perp schools up to common entrance.

Part of common entrance history is chronology
www.iseb.co.uk/pdf/Syllabus_CE_History.pdf

Hamishbear Mon 25-Mar-13 11:26:32

Hi, Copthall. I need to look at Yellowtip's article but broadly I agree with you.

I have these wonderful books - old Junior history textbooks - and it's just there's a huge, rich depth of knowledge which I fear is being lost (well its probably already been lost). I guess I am making a broader point. Rabbitstew, I think the chronology as I see it and it appears in the books I've read is hugely informative and appealing (but that's not what Gove is suggesting I know). I am saying there's a joy in the order of history as it used to be taught and a magic in its depth.

Hamishbear Mon 25-Mar-13 11:30:34

Interesting re: the Prep history curriculum Xenia.

bluescissors Mon 25-Mar-13 11:53:46

I agree with Xenia. In prep schools children are taught the chronology of history - they are not going to remember all the facts and details, but children love battles, they love horrible diseases - it brings history to life. It doesn't have to be a list of dates, but it instils a love of learning information and for some it might be the start of a deep affinity with a subject. At my DCs prep there is a lot of rote learning - spelling tests, grammar tests, times tables tests, reading records and book reviews to be written each time they finish a book, exams at least twice a year. The parents fret...the kids just get on with it. IME it gives them a good foundation on which to build and then when they are older they can choose what interests them at a later stage in life. I'm staggered what my DC know at their age. I think we underestimate what DC can do.

Copthallresident Mon 25-Mar-13 11:56:15

Hamish I am off to actually study some History (but not white men's so probably not within Gove's definition of "History") but the irony does not escape me of Gove, a man manifestly ill equipped to understand other perspectives, and who supposedly rejoices in the importance of the development of western liberal values in our island nation, adopting the perspective of the current dynasty of Chinese rulers when it comes to the teaching of History to the next generation wink

Whatever the weaknesses of the current curriculum, undergraduates arrive in our universities today far better prepared with analytical skills and the ability to understand other perspectives and to develop a strong argument from their own conclusions than my generation ever were. These proposals can only erode those skills. Indeed looking at the Pre U curriculum they will leave pupils ill prepared even for that level of study.

Personally I think chronology is over rated, I assimilated that from 1066 and all that, it doesn't take 9 years of unremitting chronology and cramming up with dry facts. What the way History is taught now does is to make it relevant, to highlight that History is made up of many people's stories, some people like us, some people unlike us, and can be seen from different perspectives. All vital skills in the global marketplace (my uni sends most of it's students into the global marketplace) . My DDs have been very inspired by the way they have been taught History, my lifetime of engagement with the study of History was in spite of the way it was taught to me in a 70s Grammar School, not because of it. It is pleasing to see that it is important to my Science geek DD to understand the History of Science and to question the perspectives that have been and are taken within it grin

Hamishbear Mon 25-Mar-13 12:13:48

Interesting, Copthall, but twas ever thus; have you seen what history is being taught in American schools in general terms?

Really, re: University? Interesting.

Chronology doesn't have to be only about dry facts as Bluescissors points out really well. Bluescissors as I quoted upthread, 'rote learning is the trellis that the free thinker can climb'. I really agree with this and SO agree with you when you say I think we underestimate what DC can do.

Who would have thought that Junior aged pupils once learned about Burns and Scott (in history!) and teaching notes suggested the teacher: 'linked with literature lessons, and freely read suitable excerpts from the works of both men. Some extracts could be memorised'. To give but one example. Unthinkable today and would probably be assumed well beyond an 11 year old.

Yellowtip Mon 25-Mar-13 13:05:35

I'm glad to see that Copthall has done a far better job of answering Hamish than I could have done myself smile

But Hamish, I do think you might be slightly glorifying the amount that your prep school friends were taught. I'd have thought the only people with that sort of sweep were those studying History at Oxford in the old days, when undergraduates started at the beginning of British history and went right through the whole lot up until the bitter end.

And Xenia you clearly think that the CE syllabus looks good. To what extent do you consider it varies from the KS3 NC though?

bluescissors Mon 25-Mar-13 13:22:05

Yellowtip - I have had a quick glance at the KS3 NC on the DoE website. It looks similar, if a bit more far reaching, probably because the CE syllabus is being tested 18months after the pupils start it. So if we start from the premise that there is no difference in what the pupils are taught, what you do with the information becomes important.

My DC was studying the Black Death as part of the CE syllabus. So was his friend at the local outstanding secondary. My son had homework which consisted of analysis of 3 sources of the period and later that week a timed essay describing aspects of the period (20 marks) and explaining it's impact on the future of England at the time (10 marks). His friend had a word search to do over the weekend. Just an anecdote, so don't flame me. I repeat, we underestimate what our DC can do.

Farewelltoarms Mon 25-Mar-13 13:22:23

Fwiw I've got a first in modern history from Oxford and I don't have the foggiest about most of the things on the list given by Hamishbear. As she says, such knowledge is most useful for a pub quiz. Not sure what else.
At primary school surely it's not about what facts they learn, but the way they learn them. I want my children to learn how to learn. I don't want them to be able to recite the kings and queens of England.

rabbitstew Mon 25-Mar-13 13:28:00

But Hamishbear - is the new curriculum expecting much of children, beyond rote learning? And is expecting children to learn lots by rote expecting very much of them? Maybe that's just coming from someone with children who have prodigiously good memories...

I repeat, I do not think Michael Gove's ideas for the teaching of history in primary school will help children develop a good understanding of chronology. Nor do I think his ideas will help children develop a love of history. Only excellent history teachers can do that and I haven't heard any history teachers jumping up and down with excitement declaring that at last, thanks to Michael Gove, they can teach properly.

I note, looking at Xenia's link, that prep schools have no apparent interest in life in Britain before 1066.

Anyone else reading Andrew Marr's "A History of the World"? I'm finding that a fascinating read.

Hamishbear Mon 25-Mar-13 13:44:18

The list I got from a history textbook used by some of my parents generation whilst they were at prep school. The history within is deeply fascinating and I do think there's much that's worthwhile there. Looking at the Preface, it's undated but it says it was produced the the 'Board of Education': The syllabus should vary according to the circumstances of the school, children should hear graphic descriptions of great events (and outline narrative does not appeal to children). The history should always be continued to modern times. Some knowledge of ancient history is desirable. Attention should be concentrated on broadest and simplest aspects. Regular revision throughout the course is essential. Informative pictures are indispensable. [All very sensible so far I think]. Lastly, history is an instrument of moral training [not sure all would agree with that].

Farewelltoarms many traditionalists I know say that's exactly the issue what used to be known routinely years back at Junior school isn't known by graduates & undergraduates now. We have become far more skills driven - rightly so in many ways - and as so many say why bother with the detail when you can google? Thing is though I so envied those that that this sort of framework at their fingertips and rich depth and body of knowledge their schooling had afforded.

Bluescissors we are told routinely that homework has been proven to be useless and adds no value at primary school level?

Hamishbear Mon 25-Mar-13 13:48:03

Rabbitstew will look at the book - have heard it's good. Thanks for the reminder.

Hamishbear Mon 25-Mar-13 13:50:26

Re: new Gove's new curriculum - I am not sure I've seen anything that gives enough detail for me to have an informed opinion.

Xenia Mon 25-Mar-13 14:03:09

Yes but the common entrance syllabus is what they learn in the last 2 or 3 years to age 12+. Before that children would always do cave men, Greeks, Egyptians etc.

Then for your GCSE or iGCSE obviously you do fewer topics as you cannot do the whole history of the world. I have no idea if this is the board my children will do for iGCSE - options below

Overview of content
Students study at least
two depth studies
from this list 1-9.
A maximum of one option from
each group can be studied.
Students must study options fr
om more than one country.
The following options may not be combined:

Option 1 and Option 5

Option 2 and Option 4

Option 3 and Option 7
Group A
1 Development of a nation: Unification of Germany, 1848-71
2 Development of a nation: Unification of Italy, 1852-70
3 Autocracy and revolt in Russia, 1881-1914
Group B
4 Development of dict
atorship: Italy, 1918-43
5 Development of dictatorship: Germany, 1918-45
6 A world divided: International
relations between the wars, 1919-39
Group C
7 Dictatorship and co
nflict in Russia, 1924-53
8 A world divided: Superp
ower relations, 1945-62
9 A divided union: Civil
rights in the USA, 1945-74

Students choose
one historical investigation
from this list A1-A6
A1 The French Revolution, c1780-94
A2 The origins and course of the First World War, 1905-18
A3 Russia in revolution, 1914-24
A4 The USA, 1917-29
A5 Colonial rule and the nation
alist challenge in India, 1919-47
A6 The fall of communism in Europe, 1979-91
Students choose
one breadth study in change
from this list B1-B7
B1 Changing nature of warfare, 1803-1905
B2 Changes in medicine, c1845-c1945
B3 The changing role of international ßorganisations: the League and the UN,
1919-2000
B4 Conflict, crisis and chan
ge: The Middle East, c1919-c1995
B5 Conflict, crisis and change: China, c1911-c1989
B6 Change in Africa from colonialism to independence, 1939-2000
B7 The changing nature of warfare, c1936-c2003

rabbitstew Mon 25-Mar-13 14:16:40

Xenia - yes, isn't it more sensible to learn all that in 2 or 3 years up to age 12+, rather than ploddingly between reception and year 6.

One thing Michael Gove is successfully doing is making parents like me consider private education far more seriously. I suspect his reforms are deliberately ludicrous so as to force more parents into private education and more state schools into academising.

Yellowtip Mon 25-Mar-13 14:30:33

Farewell that's very reassuring smile. I don't know when the Oxford syllabus changed, but I'm sure you're far, far too young for the syllabus I'm talking about. My favourite history teacher (the one who did British history until its end) graduated in 1950, which was pretty convenient in cutting the workload, obviously. Maybe there just came a point when they caved in under the realisation that they couldn't pack any more in.

rabbit DC6 is reading it at the moment (he's 15 though, so it's not prodigy stuff).

bluescissors yes, I agree that that's too small a sample to generalise from smile I think Xenia is doing the usual thing of assuming that the state sector can't do anything comparable when in fact, in this regard, it's doing exactly the same, syllabus-wise (which is what the discussion's about). I think Xenia must have assumed there was something unique about the CE specification when she posted the link. That's quite funny. State ed'd DC7 finished the KS3 History syllabus last year and he and his older siblings did all the stuff in the CE specification and even had essays at times shock. The KS4 syllabus is of course also exactly the same. And KS5.

bluescissors Mon 25-Mar-13 14:31:26

Rabbit - what Xenia has described (cave men, egyptians, celts, romans, tudors, victorians, industrial revolution) was covered by my DC in years 3-6. CE syllabus as detailed by her in years 7/8. So agree with your point that better split this way but there is a place for chronology, dates, kings, queens, understanding the link between church and state etc.

Hamish - I personally am a homework fan. My kids just get on with it and I do believe it backs up what they do at school, if it is relevant and well set, as well as marked and feedback given to the DC - I would not be a fan of word searches etc, and I hate a science experiment to do at home as much as the next person!. I don't tolerate whining and fights. If they don't do it they get into trouble at school. There's lots in life I don't want to do - IMO, the sooner DCs in this day and age realise they have to just get on with it and stop being so entitled to being the centre of their own universe, the better.....rant over! I realise I will get flamed for this opinion on MN!

Yellowtip Mon 25-Mar-13 14:32:14

rabbit all schools will have to follow the syllabus prescribed by the exam boards though, in order to pass the exams!

rabbitstew Mon 25-Mar-13 14:57:40

Yes, but Yellowtip, so far as I'm aware, there are no plans to introduce public history exams for children in year 6. So if I don't like the idea of them learning about the Stone Age in reception and working chronologically through to whatever it is in year 6, then surely I can avoid that by going private or sending my children to an academy school?...

rabbitstew Mon 25-Mar-13 15:03:07

Ah, I see they start learning about the Stone Age at age 7 and work their way on from there.

Yellowtip Mon 25-Mar-13 15:05:15

You can avoid it rabbit, if you select a school which departs from the NC. Many don't, or only tinker. And departures are even less likely after Y6 I'd have thought?

rabbitstew Mon 25-Mar-13 15:22:19

bluescissors - I entirely agree that there is a place for chronology. As I gather new knowledge on a daily basis, I need somewhere to pin it in my mind, so most definitely need a framework. I also need a good awareness of how countries are placed geographically and politically. I entirely disagree that the way to develop an understanding of all this is to start teaching ancient British history at age 7 and methodically plod your way through to the current day over a period of many years, however. That just seems so boring and not the best way of developing the framework everyone needs: there is just too much scope for it to be done badly. I would rather a good teacher did it differently than a bad teacher followed it to the prescriptive letter and mangled the message for everyone. It just smacks of trying to tell those who can't teach what to do, as though that it will make them better teachers not to have any choice in the matter, and chasing away those who can teach, because they don't agree with the approach.

Elibean Mon 25-Mar-13 15:30:10

Well said, rabbit - I suspect therein lies the crux, unfortunately.

The bad teachers will be drawn to Gove's prescriptions and the good teachers are tearing their hair out, and may run a mile sad

muminlondon Mon 25-Mar-13 16:32:19

rabbitstew, very good points and you've put your finger on what Gove and his advisers are doing here. Yes, history in context, with a long view and a narrative, and an awareness of geography, etc. - all of that is motivating and important. And learning times tables and spelling tests have their place and already happen.

But what he is actually proposing is cherry picking, being prescriptive and controlling. He is setting up false debates and I don't think he even bothers to listen to the response. If you disagree you're just a leftie Trot (hilarious if you voted LibDem at the last election!). He's rubbing his hands with glee at being able to brand teachers the 'enemy'. But he's like a dictatorial political zealot - he dangles one idea in front of you which few would disagree with, then escalates the argument in a very subjective and confrontational way without evidence or consensus. When he first proposed the Ebacc as a measure in the league tables I thought it was a positive step towards encouraging a better take-up in languages. Then suddenly it's Mandarin and Latin from the age of 7. It's confusing, elitist and completely unrealistic as an aspiration for all schools given the lack of such specialisms and time available. And it's the same for the draft history curriculum in its current form.

muminlondon Mon 25-Mar-13 18:02:56
ipadquietly Mon 25-Mar-13 19:25:40

Surely anyone who thinks we should teach history chronologically from the age of 7 to all children, of any ability, is mad? How is that going to instil a love of history? I totally agree with someone who said that history in their 1970s secondary put them off - endless dictation - all in chronological order. It is only since becoming a primary school teacher and focussing on the social history, the art, the culture and the quirky details that I began to find the subject fascinating.

How do you think we're going to teach the 'heptarchy' to 9 year olds? 'By colouring a map,' I hear you answer. Tell that to the children, who, at the moment, learn about periods of history by role play, making costumes, firing weapons on the field, cooking and celebratiions, etc, etc, etc.

The whole idea is dreadful. Who says that prep schools have been doing it right all along? WHY should children from 7-11 be bored silly by an over-crowded curriculum which is completely beyond their frame of reference and internal sense of chronology? They are young children, who should be enjoying learning about the world.

In addition, there are children with real learning problems who will have to sit through these lessons. I have an idea what might happen then.... but I guess capital punishment would solve that little pesky problem.

Also..... I also think they really should have included Australia in the geography curriculum. It's very rude to leave it out.

Copthallresident Mon 25-Mar-13 23:19:15

Gove's "paranoid outburst" as Suzanne Moore puts it is beyond bizarre, it smacks of desperation when he is prepared to badmouth (or even you might say invoke MacCarthy) against even those who once advised him. Steven Mastin, head of history at a Cambridge school, who worked alongside historian Simon Schama as an adviser to Gove on the curriculum, said the end product bore "no resemblance" to drafts he worked on as late as last month. Mastin, a fan of Gove's aim for greater rigour, said the proposed version that emerged from the education department tragically failed to offer children the broad and balanced education the education secretary had promised. Something had gone terribly wrong. www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/feb/16/historians-gove-curriculum?intcmp=239

Xenia Wed 27-Mar-13 10:26:29

I don't thi the prep schools are doing it wrong as our private schools seems to be the best schools on the planet and the 8% in them get half the best university places make up most of the best jobs in the UK, 80% of judges etc etc. Perhaps the only area of education which gets it right are the prep school and senior private schools one might argue.

rabbitstew Wed 27-Mar-13 11:15:50

Best schools on the planet?! grin I can see that if people come out of these schools with that view and the "best" employers all came from the same schools and universities, that this would be a self-perpetuating myth. Such a fine line between snobbery and self-confidence.

Elibean Wed 27-Mar-13 11:47:26

Define 'best' wink

Copthallresident Wed 27-Mar-13 11:53:06

Xenia DDs' Prep and Secondary, amongst best in country and so presumably planet hmm did not study History in the way proposed by Gove in any way, shape or form. Perhaps that is because they were anxious to teach their pupils in the way that best suited and inspired them. Years 7 and 8 were devoted to the experience of pupils at their school, from the 18th century on, to their involvement in political movements and wars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries including studying the primary sources and then even transcribing the accounts of those still living as rigorous historical records. Then straight into a detailed study of one of those political movements with the requirement to start producing essays that demonstrated that they had develop an understanding of all the perspectives on the issue and the ability to produce a piece of work with a structure and argument as they would be required to do at GCSE. I was deeply impressed with both the extent it challenged and inspired, perhaps not a curriculum suited to mixed ability and gender, but that is the point of not being overly prescriptive. I am guessing NLCS would have a similar approach, having a similar profile of pupils. My DDs current Head is making it clear they have no intention of changing their approach to teaching History to the one proposed by Gove because for their pupils it would not be inspiring or the best way in which to enable them to develop historical skills.

It was why, when I was asked to help inspire a friend's DD who was struggling with the Common Entrance History Syllabus, I was so appalled at the perpetuation of the same dreadful boring history of powerful white men and battles date by date that I had been subjected to in my 70s Grammar School. It may work taught by some rousing History master to a gang of hormonally challenged prepubescent schoolboys but it most certainly will not work everywhere.

Others better qualified than me have highlighted all the constraints on it's application in state schools, the constraints of covering that depth and range in the timetabled time available, the lack of tailoring to mixed ability, different ages etc etc etc What you teach in a History curriculum and with what aim is always going to be controversial which is why it should be a process of arriving at a consensus about what works in schools and what best prepares students, and inspires them to study at the higher level, not the political agenda of one sad white man who looks back at the past through rose tinted glasses.

But then what do I know, I am a Marxist apparently grin
.

ipadquietly Wed 27-Mar-13 18:55:43

I'll bet my bottom dollar that the children in my class, who are dressing up, role playing, making collages, re-enacting battle scenes, making models,etc have more fun than the poor little buggers in a xenia school reciting their dates (chronologically, of course) and learning their kings and queens (British, of course).

The new curriculum is written by white men who have turned their backs on our multi-cultural society; who are ignoring our SEN children and their needs, and who have no idea how to enthuse young children (or their teachers).

Christina Rossetti is not the best choice of 'creative genius' for 6 and 7 year olds!
I dream of you, to wake: would that I might
Dream of you and not wake but slumber on;
Nor find with dreams the dear companion gone,
As, Summer ended, Summer birds take flight.
Huh? hmm

Xenia Wed 27-Mar-13 19:01:37

Common entrance do not learn loads off by heart or at least mine never did although they do as a part of geography example learn their global locations which is capitals around the world, countries etc and I think that is really useful to know but that is just part of the syllabus. As these schools do better than any others and even the richest of the Chinese from abroad fight for places in them we can be pretty sure they are doing a lot better than your average UK state primary.

Copthallresident Wed 27-Mar-13 19:23:45

Xenia The rich Chinese come to this country for a western education, one that is not just dry regurgitated facts, but embraces analysis, empathy and creativity, If they want the former, they can get it at home, and at least it would be their ruler's version of History, not our ruler's version of ours, even if they are supposedly Marxist (about as much as I am!)

wordfactory Wed 27-Mar-13 20:49:11

The rich chinese come to the UK for a very specific type of independent education.

The more rigour the better.

Copthallresident Wed 27-Mar-13 21:17:00

word There are elite and rigorous schools in China, Hong Kong and Singapore. However the elite seek a western education that will confer status (ie the most valued being Winchester for boys and Wycombe Abbey for girls), confer good Guanxi (status / networking) and equip their children to operate between east and west. In Hong Kong and Singapore particularly there is criticism that the education system does not foster innovation and creativity and therefore is not providing students with the skills they need to succeed in a global economy.

This is what Wycombe Abbey offers it's girls in the way of a History curriculum www.wycombeabbey.com/academic-excellence/History.php

"^The History Department seeks to foster a love of the subject throughout the School. We teach in a lively and stimulating way, allowing all students, with all their different skills and abilities, to flourish. Each of our classrooms has an interactive whiteboard and we use a variety of approaches, including ICT, to enable students to acquire the skills of critical thinking, innovation of approach and independent learning. Our aim is to foster the skills of analysis, research and essay writing, evaluation of a variety of sources and an awareness of the historical process.^"

"^Year 7-9

History is compulsory in Year 7-9. Students have the opportunity to explore continuity and change in Britain and the world from the earliest medieval times to 1918. The course aims to explore concepts of cause and consequence, change and continuity, and examines the nature of the revolution in different societies and periods. Girls are taught a range of skills, including source evaluation and essay writing, and are encouraged to form independent opinions about the significance of past events. Key subjects are medieval kingship and ordinary life in Year 7, and the consequences of the idea of re-birth during the Renaissance in Year 8. In Year 9 we examine the concepts of political, economic, industrial and social change and study the forces driving these changes. We explore the background to some significant issues which are still faced by Europe today, such as the troubles in the Balkans and aim to ease the transition to GCSE studies by considering the causes of the First World War, and events on the Western Front 1914-1918.^"

Note the emphasis on skills, on understanding different societies and periods. It is most definitely NOT what Gove is proposing.

Yellowtip Wed 27-Mar-13 22:03:58

Hello word, I notice you haven't contributed to the substance of the convo on Gove and his proposed curriculum changes. So what's your take on the academic objections linked to here? The History stuff has been interesting - once you get past the sound bites about rigour etc. there's more to it, wouldn't you say?

Xenia Thu 28-Mar-13 12:20:52

The Chinese are not clamouring to have a state school UK education and British leaders and those who succeed tend to be those who have studied in private schools. Anyway my link to the common entrance history syllabus seemed helpful.

Children in private schools do GCSE or iGCSE but that will be in addition to what they learned for common entrance or its equivalent and usually they do not follow the national curriculum.

rabbitstew Thu 28-Mar-13 13:10:08

Are GCSEs in no way linked to the National Curriculum? How very silly.

Copthallresident Thu 28-Mar-13 13:24:39

Interestingly Xenia that syllabus has changed in the five years since I supported a DD through it. She had to contend with exactly what military strategies were employed at Stamford Bridge and Hastings which frankly, if you are going to argue that wanting to teach social history is Marxism is akin to Fascism (except I think military history has as much validity and value as social history, just not to it's exclusion) . So the CE has developed in the last five years, clearly in response to the ways it is now studied and examined at the higher levels, as it mirrors GCSE, and from what I can see of the topics they would set you up well for that, but Gove wants to take History in state schools back to an even earlier current state? What Gove proposes for state school NC for Years 7-9 is in no way akin to that CE syllabus. It is a high speed romp through events in Britain since Victoria with some empire centric excursions into India and the like, P169 on here media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/n/national%20curriculum%20consultation%20-%20framework%20document.pdf The worry is what he will then put into place for the GCSE. As the Head at Magdalen College said of Gove's Education Policy "The goalposts are being shifted but not necessarily by someone with a valid GPS"

History teachers, private and state, and academics alike are unanimously aghast at these proposals. Our subject has developed so much in the last forty years into a truly rigorous study of our past in all it's dimensions, the GCSE is acknowledged as one of the most demanding and rigorous but it's challenge is embraced by a lot of pupils who are motivated by the way they have been taught. No one is saying that teaching can't be improved and the way it is taught shouldn't develop in response to the way the subject and society evolves but Gove is a luddite, and pursuing a Maoist project to "own " History at that.

The Chinese, by which you mean overseas Chinese, do not clamour after a state school education because they do not qualify, those who live here are more than well represented in selective state schools. Overseas Chinese do clamour after the status of any sort of UK education, the market is segmented, and whilst only the brightest and well prepared can get into the schools that they attach the greatest status to, at the other end of the market there are also indifferent private schools who are in no way a match for the best state schools, selective and non selective, that survive on the basis of exploiting the demand from the less bright and the less well prepared. I could name names but their (largely overseas) private equity owners would doubtless sue me, but they are actually a national embarrassment...

Xenia Thu 28-Mar-13 16:34:06

Yet if it is free market and those overseas Chinese who cannot get into Eton etc feel they still get enough out of a school for less bright children surely the market decides. If no advantage is conferred then pupils will not be drummed up.

Copthallresident Thu 28-Mar-13 17:56:45

Well the free market is guilty of many more iniquitous and even life threatening abuses in China but some of these schools promise much through their marketing in China and deliver little. It is one thing when wine is marketed with appellation non controlee as positive selling point, and in due course the drinker learns enough to know that was a con, quite another when it is a child's education and they are going to grow up with negative perceptions of the UK brand. I am sure I need not tell you about short term selling versus long term marketing. However with out something more proactive protecting the long term interests of the UK education brand, and of course the same is even more true of our universities, it will just have to come to pass.

muminlondon Thu 28-Mar-13 18:55:56

Private schools spend a large budget marketing themselves and positioning themselves in PR terms but bad reports rarely surface. And it's not in the interests of the ad-sales driven local media to publish negative stories on their clients. At the primary level there is no nationally reported testing for prep schools, so we have little idea how 'good' they are.

muminlondon Thu 28-Mar-13 19:41:23

On this topic see the Good Schools Guide, as mentioned in this TES article 'Second-rate independents ‘fob off’ foreign pupils':

www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6319933

Xenia Thu 28-Mar-13 21:39:09

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The 8% of children at fee paying schools secure over half the best university places, are 80% of judges, and well over 60% of most of the best paid jobs. That cannot just be PR articles hiding uselessly educated children, quite the converse.

ipadquietly Thu 28-Mar-13 21:54:35

I heard about a judge who threw out a child abuse case because the social worker had translated the child's testimony into anatomical names. Apparently, because the actual words of the testimony weren't used during the court case, it was dismissed.

Yes, let's just look at that. A child has almost certainly been sexually abused, but the wrong words are used in the court case....

Perhaps this illustrates the lack of creative thinking in fee paying schools as 80% of judges are educated independently?

rabbitstew Thu 28-Mar-13 21:55:48

Interesting to ponder whether, if there were no private schools, the same people would still be getting the top jobs. How many judges were the children of people not already in high ranking positions and jobs?

Copthallresident Thu 28-Mar-13 22:01:13

Xenia It is well documented that an astonishingly small number of schools account for those statistics and some schools account for an astonishingly large proportion of them. The PR articles and "school finding agencies" try to big up the rest on their coat tails.

ipadquietly Thu 28-Mar-13 23:57:04

Networking.

Xenia Fri 29-Mar-13 10:55:34

That is for the market to decide. If parents at a school day placed 100th in the league tables not in the top 5 find there is no advantage through paying fees they may not pay fees. Clearly the private schools do things pretty well hence why 50% of parents would pay if they had made wiser career choices which would have enabled them to afford fees.

muminlondon Fri 29-Mar-13 13:25:13

The PR certainly works on you, Xenia! I'm sure 50% would like a Porsche (if polled unscientifically) but they don't buy one because they don't have the money, it's not practical for a big family, or they can't drive or have no need to drive fast and make a big noise when doing so.

In reality the private school sector is no bigger than it was 50 years ago. It was in decline, then briefly expanded to 7% of pupils when direct grammars were abolished around 1990, but has remained at 7% since then. Very few new private schools have been built in the last couple of decades - a few prep school chains, takeovers funded in the private equity boom, but the clever operators sold up before the credit crunch and started investigating how to make profits from the state sector instead (and have been writing a new curriculum based on their narrow private school experience).

You don't see the bottom falling out of the market because there is always a better option in the state sector - but many of the small privates have quietly closed. The 100 or so independent schools at the top of the tree are very established, very selective and difficult to get into even if you have the money, and mostly in or near London.

rabbitstew Fri 29-Mar-13 13:42:28

Ah yes, but muminlondon, all the people who made wise career choices live in or near London, anyway, so that just proves how brilliantly the market works. Wise career choices, after all, have b*gger all to do with what the world actually needs, they relate only to personal gain and being able to afford private school fees. Everyone should be wise like Xenia and the world would be sorted. grin

Copthallresident Fri 29-Mar-13 13:57:01

And living in London you can never find anyone to do what you actually need grin

Xenia Sat 30-Mar-13 12:24:24

It's an interesting issue. Do you feed your children bad foods and sweets all day because you thinkit's only fair they have as bad a time as children whose parents give them that every day? Of course not. There is nothing morally wrong in advantaging your child.

Did you pick a job as a street sweeper because we need one and not become the UK's leading surgeon because we need street sweepers? Ther eis nothing wrong with doing the best for yourself. The UK is full of little girl brought up to be mother martyr on the minimum wage setting herself up for a life washing husband's socks and children's bottoms in ready training for taking on long term care of her and her husband's elderly parents. Girls are pushed into this - you are female therefore the right career is a low paid one. It's a total con. No reason girls cannot aim high. Nothing morally wrong with picking a career which means you can do the best for your children. There is no moral advantage in working in the local call centre because the UK might need call centre workers. Be the owner of the call centre.

I certainly agree that in every recession parents are unable to pay fees and that boarding schools have declined since the Victorian age in terms of numbers from the UK attending. In less well off areas some private schools have moved to the state sector and some have merged and some closed because some parents have less money and the economy goes in cycles.

rabbitstew Sat 30-Mar-13 19:30:19

Oh yes, of course, Xenia, people dream of being street sweepers and call centre workers... Because of course, it is a choice between sweeping streets and being a brain surgeon for most people. grin. There are absolutely no worthwhile careers in between those two extremes which are challenging, exciting, genuinely worthwhile and which don't pay enough to cover the private school fees. And these people are really missing out not being able to send their children to a school where parents have your attitude - the attitude which appears to think that 95% of careers are not worthwhile, because they don't pay you enough.

'In less well off areas some private schools have moved to the state sector and some have merged and some closed because some parents have less money and the economy goes in cycles.'

Not quite Xenia. Where I live (not a less well off area) some private school have done all of the above. But the bit you're missing is that it's not just because of the recession. As state schools in our city have made significant improvements, less parents are choosing private. They recognise that there are many benefits to state education, such as coming into contact with a more representative sample of society.

The reason higher earners are over-represented by people with a private education is because of the old boys' and girls' networks that are so prevalent. Funnily enough it's nowhere near as marked in engineering and IT as it is in law or medicine.

ipadquietly Sat 30-Mar-13 21:45:51

Some of the parents must be laughing all the way to the bank. Suddenly, the fee guzzling school becomes a Free School! The curriculum remains the same (i.e. do whatever they like) and the funding gushes in from central government! I sincerely hope that class sizes in these converting schools rises and rises.... oh no, I forgot - silly me. They can set their own admissions criteria as well...and pay teachers whatever they like.... and employ unqualified 'experts in their field' to teach the little darlings.

Michael Gove is a twat of the highest order. He is arrogant and egotistical, endorsing policies that worked for him (an intelligent nerd) 30 years ago, and forgetting today's diverse, multicultural, inclusive school population. In free schools/academies, he is creating a system that will only be accountable by end of key stage testing - it will be totally data driven, with no regard to the way each school adjusts its curriculum to suit its pupils (the school's USP).

The new humanities curriculum is just an extra snub to the teaching profession and all of the children in maintained schools in England.

Xenia Sun 31-Mar-13 08:49:41

The schools in the North East I was reading about did report 30 parents immediately moved the children to other private schools when it became clear the school was going into the state sector. However they got a surge of parents happy to pay fees for 12 months from the state sector who knew that when it turned a state school there would be a huge number of parents applying so best to get in whilst still private as an investment in your future school place.

Private schools are not in general decline in the UK at all. They are some of the best schools in the country. Most parents using them are very happy with them.

Copthallresident Sun 31-Mar-13 10:33:49

One of those schools in the Northeast chose the Free School route rather than merge with another school, as several have done in that area, because it felt it was more in keeping with it's original ethos and values, providing an education to girls regardless of means. It was a former Direct Grant school, and at the time the direct grant was withdrawn it was a close decision whether to opt for the LA route or go private but raise money for bursaries . The governing body were far from pursuing a cynical project to access government funds. I wonder how a highly academic school is going to cope with a mixed ability intake but speaking from a part of the country where excellent new school proposals are having to move into disused churches and office buildings it would seem that the city will be well served by gaining a new purpose built school with amazing facilities.

muminlondon Sun 31-Mar-13 12:23:30

Private schools were brought into the state sector under Labour to become Catholic and Muslim VA schools under the justification of 'choice and diversity'. The very few ex-direct grant grammars converting to free schools are, at least, bringing facilities with them and not (all) religious but they are a minuscule drop in the ocean in terms of overall provision.

If you are paying £15-20k per year you know the rules - you're paying for exclusivity and privilege and if you don't get a place, it's par for the course. There"s always state grammars or the Oratory for the middle class to monopolise. But you cannot apply private school exclusivity and admissions policies or the extremely narrow curriculum, proposed by your Tory donor mate's rich wife and associates, to the state sector. It's absurd and so is Gove.

ipadquietly Sun 31-Mar-13 15:45:54

mil But you can apply an extremely narrow curriculum!

muminlondon Sun 31-Mar-13 20:18:43

Yes, although it is inappropriate and unworkable and criticised by academics and experienced well qualified teachers from both state and private sector, Gove will impose it anyway. It's hard to know whether he is trying to drive primaries into the arms of academy chains just to be free of the national curriculum - because it is unteachable and head teachers are pragmatic - or it is just his desire for absolute control.

ipadquietly Sun 31-Mar-13 20:40:40

The cynic in me says that he is trying to force academies! I know that we had that very conversation in a meeting last week.......

Isn't it about time teachers stood up and said that it really is a load of crap and they're not going to do it?

muminlondon Sun 31-Mar-13 21:10:28

Academics are called Marxists for disagreeing with Gove. Teaching union leaders are 'enemies of promise'. I'm just a parent and all I can do is vote the twat out before he damages my DC's education but until/unless the LibDems take a position my vote will be wasted where I live. It is interesting to hear criticism also coming from private school head teachers (over the English GCSE regrading for example) because they are more likely to be heard by those in power and the media. At some point Ofsted inspectors or academy chain directors will also find their voice - if it's unworkable it will be quickly apparent.

ipadquietly Sun 31-Mar-13 21:24:07

Ofsted inspectors have it easy at the moment. Reports are quite obviously SEF/data driven. Academy chain directors have bigger fish to fry - their medical/healthcare/retirement subsidiaries; their hedge funds; their property investments.

This fight is for teachers and they MUST have parents on their side. That is why it is SO short-sighted to bang on about pensions and pay. The educational establishment is crumbling and the unions are doing nothing.

(I'm really cross about this - I have written to the union and received no reply. I went to a union meeting about a year ago and suggested we look at what's happening to the pupils rather than ourselves - didn't get a good response! The worst thing I have heard recently is that government is cutting devolved capital, usually used for toilet repairs, etc. The bulk of these expenses have now got to come from the school's budget. This is where children's education is at risk. £10K for a roof/toilet repair = 1 TA for a year.)

muminlondon Mon 01-Apr-13 00:08:32

I have a lot of sympathy for teachers over pay and pensions. I don't blame teachers at all for putting up a fight over pensions. But I do agree parents have to be on side - working parents find strike days inconvenient. I do not want to see teachers so demoralised that they leave the profession in droves. Ultimately all this crap about unqualified teachers, schools set up in garden sheds and a curriculum written by 22-year old politicos won't work because parents don't want it, and it's too much of a risk for headteachers if standards slip and staff turnover is high. I think heads will ultimately back their staff, reassure parents and resist the loppier ideas. Gove has powerful friends but his ideas are short-term, contradictory, counter-productive and economcally wasteful and do not have support outside his little coterie of cronies. If not Ofsted, then we will see more criticism from the select committee, or perhaps Tory council leaders furious at being starved of funds or having planning decisions imposed on them.

muminlondon Mon 01-Apr-13 00:37:16

Great 6 minute video here:

www.goveversusreality.com/

Eeeeeowwwfftz Mon 01-Apr-13 08:39:35

I had a quick scan (only very quick mind) over the National Curriculum document and while a lot of it seems broadly sensible, the history curriculum seems batshit crazy to me. I am struggling to find any merit in plodding through 1000 years of events over a few years of primary school classes. Sounds to me like reducing history to the sequence "and then this happened and then this happened and then this happened" without ever pausing to think about why any of these things happened, or what any of them have to do with each other.

If anyone knows any different I'd love to be enlightened, but this smacks of what seems to be an unfortunately common theme in education policy: It seems that believing one has had an education provides sufficient grounds for being dogmatic about how it should be done. It seems to me that "critical thinking" (to my mind, the most important product of an education) is an alien concept to most of our politicians, and Gove in particular.

Xenia Mon 01-Apr-13 11:23:21

What is amazing to me is teachers in the press saying children will not learn facts and it will turn them off. If state schools are not teaching facts and making children learn then no wonder we are in such a mess. Yes it may be rather hard to learn your list of French verbs or the capital cities of the world but that is what school in part should be about. If schools have stopped taxing the precious little darlings who cannot possibly be forced to learn things then they have failed.

mrz Mon 01-Apr-13 11:46:26

Traditionally, teachers were concerned with instilling knowledge in particular curricular areas. There is now much more awareness of the skills which pupils need in society and concern as to how best to develop these skills. One of those skills is how to research facts such as capital cities of the world and lists of French verbs.
"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination."

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Albert Einstein

Hamishbear Mon 01-Apr-13 11:57:51

Einstein may well have thought we should teach the science before the art though.

I am very imaginative but I lack a sense of logic and wasn't taught any framework at school on which to hang and develop my ideas.

Someone said 'rote learning is the trellis that the free thinker can climb'.

Personally I agree with that and feel envious towards those that had a more traditional education that taught the science before the art.

All that running around dressed as a Roman was well and good but I wasn't taught to write or spell properly and we even had a creative approach in Maths which means I get terribly muddled now.

Copthallresident Mon 01-Apr-13 12:04:53

Hamish Was that the 70s though? Things have swung back a fair way and my DCs certainly had rigour in those parts of the curriculum that required rote learning, spellings, tables etc as well as having a far more stimulating education than my very formal prep school education which was all facts and no imagination.

That is the trouble, Gove and his acolytes were clearly never trained in achieving objectivity. You can't develop sound strategy and process if it is arrived at via subjective judgements and prejudice. His basically is a reality free analysis.

mrz Mon 01-Apr-13 12:09:03

I find it interesting that one of the architects of the new primary curriculum has stated that her school won't follow it.

mrz Mon 01-Apr-13 12:38:32
Copthallresident Mon 01-Apr-13 13:17:20

He also doesn't even understand reality since he clearly thinks that the Roman reality is so entirely comprehensible to a six year old that they need never study them again whilst the Victorian reality is so complex only a teenager can begin to comprehend it. History got harder as it went along grin

ipadquietly Mon 01-Apr-13 13:39:23

mrz The lovely Anneiiese is following the Hirsch curriculum, which provided the 'philosophy' behind the draft curriculum.
montrose42.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/gove-hirsch-and-the-curriculum/

mrz Mon 01-Apr-13 13:58:31

yes I know

ipadquietly Mon 01-Apr-13 14:02:58

(Sorry, I realised that after I pressed enter! grin)

rabbitstew Mon 01-Apr-13 14:03:01

Gove seems to think that state schools haven't moved on in their approach since the 1970s and is an exceptionally poor advert for a private education. He seems incapable of listening to all arguments, analysing the information received and coming out with anything sensible at the end of the process. I'm not quite sure at what point his analysis broke down, but I suspect it was at the beginning, when he'd already made up his mind what he believed to be the case and what he wanted to do about it. If that's what a private education does for you...

mrz Mon 01-Apr-13 14:18:49

Not only does he not know that education has moved on since the 1970s he seems unaware that society and the world has changed since he was at school

Copthallresident Mon 01-Apr-13 14:24:56

That Hirsch article is interesting, a friend who does supply in different International Schools often plays a game with her students if there is time to fill. At the British, Singaporean, Chinese, German and French schools she can get them to go through the alphabet naming countries that begin with each letter two or three times. At the American International school she rarely gets through it once and then some of them will have resorted to naming states because they don't understand the distinction or are ignorant of anywhere outside the states, and these are expats, the ones who have ventured outside the US. Why on earth are we taking a lead from an Education system that equips their pupils with such a drastic paucity of knowledge?

ipadquietly Mon 01-Apr-13 14:38:20

I agree rabbit. I daresay Gove has never met anyone quite like the adopted child with attachment disorder in my class, who is only just starting to make vaguely relevant comments about what we are doing and who needs 'pre-learning' before many of our lessons. I doubt if he's ever met children who find it difficult to listen, but learn by doing things practically or those who can't sit still because they have ADHD.

What about the children who aren't yet toilet trained when entering Y1, who will be expected to learn about democracy, government and peasantry?

hmm

It just doesn't make any sense to me at all. Gove is forcing his prescriptive mandatory curriculum on some schools, whilst allowing his flagship schools to model their own curricula. Where's the logic in that?

Copthallresident Mon 01-Apr-13 15:10:33

ipad As a dyslexic myself I know that facts have never been Hamishbear's trellis on which I could climb. In fact it wasn't until I escaped my formal education and I could have conceptual trellis's on which to hang the facts that I began to achieve. When it comes to my specialism I can quote you facts upon facts but only because I understand the underlying cultural economic and political framework. What Gove and others on this thread fail to appreciate is that some of our greatest ultimate achievers did so in spite of battling with an education system that didn't suit their learning style, and yet he wants to return to that education system. Thankfully my own dyslexic DDs will be through his exam system by the time he makes it into one that would give them a much more limited opportunity to demonstrate their considerable intellectual ability.

muminlondon Mon 01-Apr-13 15:27:46

Of course in primary school they already learn to read, times tables, number bonds, fractions, memorise spellings, etc. They also learn about materials, states of matter, electricity, weather, water and rivers, anatomy, circuits and conductors, water and rivers, astronomy, etc. And yes, lots of facts - and skils. In history they develop chronological understanding, historical interpretation, research and communication skills, religious beliefs. It's a lovely curriculum and so many opportunities for topics and research, creative writing, drama, wonderful whole school activities, school trips and creative arts days.

Out will go local history, and presumably Greek and Roman myths (not British, you see ...). What a great opportunity for plays, learning Latin words and encouraging boys to read (e.g. the Percy Jackson books). Out will go the Tudors, Great Fire of London, the Victorians, opportunities for creative writing and drama, links to local history, architecture, understanding different religions. Not in the right chronological sequence, you see.

The list of critics is growing: Presidents of the Royal Historical Society, the Historical Association, the higher education group History UK and senior members of the British Academy have all criticised the draft History curriculum. Now the chairman of BAE says 'something has gone very wrong' with the Design and and Technology curriculum (at secondary level presumably, replaced with ... horticulture.

Copthallresident Mon 01-Apr-13 15:54:04

muminlondon Have they really bought in horticulture in place of DT, just when the RHS are bemoaning the demise of any study of botany or horticulture related content at degree level in universities? How exactly will the knowledge be tested by exams developed in conjunction with universities hmm

mrz Mon 01-Apr-13 16:07:12

Horticulture is in from KS1

Key Stage 1
Pupils should explore and develop purposeful, practical skills in design and technology, taking advantage of local opportunities and the expertise of teachers.
Pupils should
be taught the basic principles of balanced eating and where food comes from, and should be encouraged to develop an interest in cooking.
Through working in fields selected from those listed in the introduction (materials (including textiles), horticulture, electricals and electronics, construction, and mechanics), pupils should be taught to:
perform simple, useful, practical tasks (for instance, making products for a purpose using a basic range of tools and materials, and techniques such as cutting, forming and joining)
explore different materials, and become familiar with their properties and uses
communicate ideas simply, such as through drawing, jottings, modelling in 2-D and 3-D and, where appropriate, using information and communication technology to record the development of their designs
appreciate the need for good design by evaluating a range of design and designers.

muminlondon Mon 01-Apr-13 17:28:23

So it is at primary level then. Maybe they won't be allowed to study electricity or circuits or design PowerPoint slides at aged 8 any more (more than I ever knew at that age). The BAE chairman says:

'Instead of introducing children to new design techniques , such as biomimicry (how we can emulate nature to solve human problems), we now have a focus on cookery. Instead of developing skills in computer-aided design, we have the introduction of horticulture. Instead of electronics and control, we have an emphasis on basic mechanical maintenance tasks," he told a conference of educators earlier this month. "In short, something has gone very wrong."'

mrz Mon 01-Apr-13 17:31:55

It's in KS1, 2 & 3

ipadquietly Mon 01-Apr-13 18:14:28

That KS1 D&T ties in nicely with learning about peasantry. grin

mil Computers will be in use throughout the curriculum. I don't think there are any worries about that. The science curriculum is similar to the existing one, although KS1 concentrates on materials, animals and plants, without touching 'physics' (forces, electricity) at all. Maths and english aren't that different either.

mrz Mon 01-Apr-13 18:33:58

When i first saw the DT prog of study I did wonder if Mr Gove was having staffing issues ...great skills for a cook, handyman and gardener.

muminlondon Mon 01-Apr-13 20:01:24

History is the political battleground, isn't it? Proper consultation replaced by a discussion stage managed by a clique who won't even have to teach the curriculum, including Nash & Co - his wife, think tank associates and unqualified Pimlico staff.

The criticism from qualified historians of both the curriculum and the whole process is very clear.

Royal Historical Society:

'far too narrowly and exclusively focused on British history ... strictly chronological sequence from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 ensures that many students will not be properly exposed to the exciting and intellectually demanding study of pre-modern history other than in the very earliest stages of their studies. ... details of the curriculum have been drafted inside the Department for Education without any systematic consultation or public discussion with historians, teachers or the wider public. The contrast with the practice of the Conservative government of the late 1980s when it drafted the first national curriculum is striking. '

Historical Association:

'Egypt Victorians, Britain since 1930, World War II, and other world history topics, along with their resources, are destined for the scrap heap. The draft history curriculum leaves little option for cross-curricular learning; the resourcing, logistical and training implications alone are huge. ... this is an unworkable curriculum that has paid little attention to child development or taken on board age-appropriate subjects'.

ipadquietly Mon 01-Apr-13 20:12:12

Geography should be thrown into the argument as well. For the life of me, I can't find Australia mentioned anywhere. Perhaps they're thinking of using it as a giant workhouse.

SchnitzelVonKrumm Mon 01-Apr-13 20:24:20

My children's primary school is vastly more rigorous and ambitious than anything I encountered in the 1970s.

muminlondon Mon 01-Apr-13 20:57:20

Thanks for pointing that out - Geographical Association says:

'The GA supports the new focus on subject rigour, but we do not support a 'curriculum of compliance'. A curriculum that narrowly focuses on a set of given facts and expects children to passively absorb them is not what we want.'

muminlondon Mon 01-Apr-13 22:44:39

Good old Michael Rosen asks the questions we would like Gove to answer

www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/apr/01/michael-gove-rigour-knowledge-creativity

ipadquietly Mon 01-Apr-13 23:53:21

I particularly like the paragraph on rigour.

However, I think MR has fallen into the trap of concentrating too much on 'creativity' being about the arts - poetry, dance, writing. IMVHO I think the curriculum running in many primary schools at the moment enables creativity throughout the curriculum - the children are being encouraged to think outside of the box and work together to grow their ideas, which are sometimes remarkable. In addition, they are learning the very important skills of making suggestions, debate, evaluation and compromise.

Copthallresident Tue 02-Apr-13 00:19:28

ipad I have a background in strategic planning, have worked with company boards helping them develop strategy and the plans to implement it. You have to come up with all sorts of exercises to get these very bright people to lose their inhibitions and start thinking laterally in order to be creative and generate new ideas, and to make consensual decisions on implementation .

So somewhat sceptically I agreed with DDs Year 6 teacher that I would try the same sort of processes and techniques to facilitate them in taking on the leadership in developing the strategy for the school's fundraising initiative and plans for implementing them.

No need for exercises to get them to think creatively, as well as understand the risks and opportunities and come up with ultimately highly successful plans. They ended up working within charities to understand their needs and even, when world events moved on from what they had planned for, quickly adapting their plans to make a greater difference with their resources. If you could bottle that level of unguarded and uninhibited creative thinking, task focus and enthusiasm and spread it about UK PLC (or indeed the Education sector) the UK would be a lot more successful. Of course it was no surprise to their teacher who had fostered that confidence and creativity, but it would be well beyond the imagination of Gove as evidenced by his dredging up of sad old ideas.

ipadquietly Tue 02-Apr-13 00:45:37

That sounds fantastic copthall. grin

speedology Fri 05-Jul-13 19:46:10

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