primary education

(118 Posts)
SJKenyon Sat 09-Feb-13 18:22:07

This is first time I have been on Mumsnet. My children are older than primary age but I am a primary teacher. I wanted to post this to make as many parents aware as possible of the draft primary curriculum which came out for consultation on Thursday. It is available at It is 221 pages long but parents need to see it asap, not just teachers. Take a good look at the history and geography sections and then the lack of interest in Art in particular. If you want your very young children to be subjected to this kind of statutory curriculum from next year, then look no further. But if having your 6 year old learning about the importance of nation, and Isambard Kingdom Brunel along with Isaac Newton and Christina Rosetti (all KS1), is of concern to you, or the inclusion of the Crusades in KS2 worries you as a Muslim parent, then perhaps you should take a very close look at this. If parents and teachers unite to say no to this, we have until April 16th to prevent it. As a teacher, I am deeply concerned by it. So should all of you be as parents.

SJKenyon Sat 09-Feb-13 18:24:59

If, once you've looked into it, you are not happy, use this address to upload a letter of protest to Education dept.

Tiggles Sat 09-Feb-13 18:31:26

Doesn't really affect me as from Wales, but what is the problem with a 6 year old learning about Brunel or Newton?

SJKenyon Sat 09-Feb-13 18:41:50

Depends whether you want them to try understanding Newton's laws at that age. You are lucky you are in Wales - your curriculum is much broader and much less restrictive. if you take a look at this proposal, you will see it is a straight jacket and will crush creativity from children and teachers alike.

cumbrialass Sat 09-Feb-13 18:45:47

This is for KS2
early Britons and settlers, including:
the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages
Celtic culture and patterns of settlement
Roman conquest and rule, including:
Caesar, Augustus, and Claudius
Britain as part of the Roman Empire
the decline and fall of the Western Roman Empire
Anglo-Saxon and Viking settlement, including:
the Heptarchy
the spread of Christianity
key developments in the reigns of Alfred, Athelstan, * and Edward the Confessor
the Norman Conquest and Norman rule, including:
the Domesday Book
Norman culture
the Crusades
Plantagenet rule in the 12th and 13th centuries, including:
key developments in the reign of Henry II, including the murder of Thomas Becket
Magna Carta
de Montfort's Parliament
relations between England, Wales, Scotland and France, including:
William Wallace
Robert the Bruce
Llywelyn and Dafydd ap Gruffydd
the Hundred Years War

life in 14th-century England, including:
the Black Death
the Peasants’ Revolt
the later Middle Ages and the early modern period, including:
Chaucer and the revival of learning
Wycliffe’s Bible
Caxton and the introduction of the printing press
the Wars of the Roses
Warwick the Kingmaker
the Tudor period, including religious strife and Reformation in the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Mary
Elizabeth I's reign and English expansion, including:
colonisation of the New World
plantation of Ireland
conflict with Spain
the Renaissance in England, including the lives and works of individuals such as Shakespeare and Marlowe
the Stuart period, including:
the Union of the Crowns
King versus Parliament
Cromwell's commonwealth, the Levellers and the Diggers
the restoration of the monarchy
the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London
Samuel Pepys and the establishment of the Royal Navy
the Glorious Revolution, constitutional monarchy and the Union of the Parliaments.

And that's only KS2. You can also do local history as well plus Ancient Greece and Rome.

Perhaps someone could tell me how we fit all that in!

mrz Sat 09-Feb-13 18:47:46

Sorry but why they do need to understand Newton's laws to learn about Newton in history? hmm


But some children have only just clicked with reading and writing by yr 2. And a year later they have to start with all that????

Tiggles Sat 09-Feb-13 18:48:10

Wow! That is a long list. You HAVE to do all of those?? I thought (from skimming headlines) they were slimming the curriculum down.

Wales were doing well, until they decided that they need to reintroduce testing for every school year from Y2-6.

SJKenyon Sat 09-Feb-13 18:52:07

I have no problem with teaching them about Newton - just not appropriate for year 2 who are still dealing with reading and writing and basic maths by then. They don't need to know about Newton and gravity!!

SJKenyon Sat 09-Feb-13 18:52:36

And yes, the whole list is compulsory.

mrz Sat 09-Feb-13 18:54:40

Is Newton less appropriate than Florence Nightingale or Mary Seacole?

I would hope they know about gravity by Y2!

cumbrialass Sat 09-Feb-13 18:55:43

And it has to be taught sequentially so Year 3's will probably get from Early Britons to the Heptarchy, year 4's would be spread of chritianity to 100 years war, year 5 would need to fit in 14th Century England to the Tudors and year 6 can deal with the rest.
Obviously, teaching sequentially could be a problem in a mixed age class!

SJKenyon Sat 09-Feb-13 18:57:23

All am saying is wait to teach that stuff till they are in KS2 and better able to understand it. Newton is not my point - just an example. Have a look at the document. There are going to be many thousands of very annoyed teachers. Not about us or the workload. Simply about what it will do the children's education.

PatriciaHolm Sat 09-Feb-13 19:02:01

Yr 2 DS has been absolutely inspired by Brunel this year, and is perfectly capable of understanding the basics of Newton and gravity.

Is your point more that there is too much to cover?

mrz Sat 09-Feb-13 19:06:24

SJKenyon I am a teacher wink

SJKenyon Sat 09-Feb-13 19:07:01

Yes far too much. And some of the key stage two material is deadly dull! Also all of it is Brititsh History - nothing else will be taught. Does China and Asia generally not exist? WHat about Africa? No room left in curriculum then to teach anything else. I currently teach (every other year) a lengthy unit on Chinese emperors and then on the geography of China. I developed it myself - took a lot of time and effort - but classes have loved it. Won't be allowed to use it any more. If you look at proposed Geography curriculum too - only N and S America and Europe. Again no Africa or Asia. Too restrictive.

heggiehog Sat 09-Feb-13 19:07:03

Just look at the list. It's horrific.

diamondee Sat 09-Feb-13 19:11:13

How does ks2 relate to the Scottish system? Is it P3?

Haberdashery Sat 09-Feb-13 19:11:17

>> They don't need to know about Newton and gravity!!

I don't think gravity would be a crazy topic for KS1, if handled in an age-appropriate way. Newton's laws aren't actually that hard to take on board as concepts, IMO. Things like if something is sitting still, it won't move unless something outside the object happens to make it move. Why something slows down if rolled along a flat surface. Gravity is really interesting and could potentially be taught in a really creative way. Thinking about something properly is always good. You don't need to be able to read or write in a sophisticated way to think. I would have some concerns about how it would be taught. It could be properly mind-expanding and amazing but equally it could be confusing and muddled.

The KS2 list of topics sounds ridiculously prescriptive and overpopulated. However, I did the Tudors and Stuarts for four years out of seven in primary school so would really have welcomed a bit of variety. I remember being quite interested the first year we did them but rapidly wrote off history as a Waste of Time.

I would be very sorry to see creative topics downgraded. I will have to have a look at the proposals.

Could anyone post a link to the document?

TheBuskersDog Sat 09-Feb-13 19:12:08

Am pretty sure Chinese history is not in the current curriculum.

mrz Sat 09-Feb-13 19:12:48

The current KS1 curriculum includes the study of

c. the lives of significant men, women and children drawn from the history of Britain and the wider world (for example, artists, engineers, explorers, inventors, pioneers, rulers, saints, scientists)

Christina Rosetti , Brunel, Newton hmm

ReallyTired Sat 09-Feb-13 19:13:40

"concern to you, or the inclusion of the Crusades in KS2 worries you as a Muslim parent"

I think its a bloody good thing for British children to learn about the crusades. It is important to recongise that attrocities were committed in the middle east by Europeans.

Understanding about Jihads and crusades will make children realise some of the historial background of why there is no much unrest in the middle east today. Children will have a better understanding of current affairs.

Why would a muslim not want their child to learn that there have been religious wars in the past? Its a bit like say that Jewish parents would not want the holocaust taught.

Just marking my place so I can read the whole doc later.

mrz Sat 09-Feb-13 19:15:01

ocal history study

7. A study investigating how an aspect in the local area has changed over a long period of time, or how the locality was affected by a significant national or local event or development or by the work of a significant individual.
British history

8. In their study of British history, pupils should be taught about:
a. the Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings; Britain and the wider world in Tudor times; and either Victorian Britain or Britain since 1930
b. aspects of the histories of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, where appropriate, and about the history of Britain in its European and wider world context, in these periods.
Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings in Britain

9. An overview study of how British society was shaped by the movement and settlement of different peoples in the period before the Norman Conquest and an in-depth study of how British society was affected by Roman or Anglo-Saxon or Viking settlement.
Britain and the wider world in Tudor times

10. A study of some significant events and individuals, including Tudor monarchs, who shaped this period and of the everyday lives of men, women and children from different sections of society.
Victorian Britain or Britain since 1930

11. Teachers can choose between a study of Victorian Britain or Britain since 1930.
Victorian Britain

a. A study of the impact of significant individuals, events and changes in work and transport on the lives of men, women and children from different sections of society.
Britain since 1930

b. A study of the impact of the Second World War or social and technological changes that have taken place since 1930, on the lives of men, women and children from different sections of society.
A European history study

12. A study of the way of life, beliefs and achievements of the people living in Ancient Greece and the influence of their civilisation on the world today.
A world history study

13. A study of the key features, including the everyday lives of men, women and children, of a past society selected from: Ancient Egypt, Ancient Sumer, the Assyrian Empire, the Indus Valley, the Maya, Benin, or the Aztecs.

seeker Sat 09-Feb-13 19:16:12

It's obviously too much.

But I do find statements like
"I have no problem with teaching them about Newton - just not appropriate for year 2 who are still dealing with reading and writing and basic maths by then. They don't need to know about Newton and gravity!!"
deeply depressing. Why not, ffs?

mrz Sat 09-Feb-13 19:17:25
SJKenyon Sat 09-Feb-13 19:20:42
here is the link.

Just so you know, I am an extremely dedicated year 6 teacher. I am only posting because I am so concerned about this.

ClayDavis Sat 09-Feb-13 19:21:36

'children should be taught about: the lives of significant individuals in Britain's past who have contributed to our nation's achievements - scientists such as Isaac Newton or Michael Faraday, reformers such as Elizabeth Fry or William Wilberforce, medical pioneers such as William Harvey or Florence Nightingale,or creative geniuses such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel or Christina Rosetti.'

I'm not sure how this is very different in practice to the current 'the lives of significant men, women and children drawn from the history of Britain and the wider world (e.g. artist, engineers, explorers, inventors, pioneers, rulers, saints, scientists).

I know some schools that already teach about Brunel in KS1 and I don't get the impression that list is definitive. Presumably you could choose the individualsto study.

The phrase 'common exception words' in the English PoS does make my teeth itch though.

mrz Sat 09-Feb-13 19:23:24

I agree Clay

SJKenyon Sat 09-Feb-13 19:24:56

You can't choose from the KS2 list. It says to be taught in chronological order sequentially.

piprabbit Sat 09-Feb-13 19:25:13

I look at that list and think it looks really exciting. It probably won't get covered in much depth but it seems to be all the things I left school without ever having studied and which I've been self-educating myself about every since.

piprabbit Sat 09-Feb-13 19:26:35

Although we did do a lot about Normans in Infants school as we had the remains of a Norman castle in the village - was fab, nearly as good as dissecting owl pellets.

SJKenyon Sat 09-Feb-13 19:26:49

I teach William Harvey as part of science and history in year 5 - fits better with work on heart and circulation.

bamboostalks Sat 09-Feb-13 19:27:42

This is so typical, someone genuinely concerned about massive changes to curriculum finds an innocuous comment re Newton picked apart. Just look at the bigger picture and you'll see, yet again, our children's education being used as a political football. The fantastic Rose Report quashed and this pile of piffle pushed in to appease Tory nuts. Forget Newton physics...yes of course it can and is studied. That is not the essence of this tread though. Bigger picture people.

ClayDavis Sat 09-Feb-13 19:28:23

About the common exception words, mrz? I know the document explains about common words with irregular GPC but 'common exception words' suggests something quite different.

Tiggles Sat 09-Feb-13 19:29:57

Haberdashery, took me a while to find it, but here is a link - the pdf is on the right hand side of the screen.

Tiggles Sat 09-Feb-13 19:33:49

Under computing for KS1 it says that they will be taught to write and test simple programmes. Interested (because I'm a software engineer) is that new? What software language to they use? Or is it more of a simple, learning to use logic steps like Scratch the Cat, rather than an actual programming language?

mrz Sat 09-Feb-13 19:34:18

About the KS1 curriculum not being much different from the current version and that whoever wrote "common exception words" hasn't thought about the wording.

mrz Sat 09-Feb-13 19:37:07

The new "computing" curriculum ... hmm

SJKenyon Sat 09-Feb-13 19:41:14

Thank you to bamboostalks - was beginning to think I was going mad here! I could hardly copy and paste the whole 221 pages! Just wanted to pique people into looking at this thing before it is too late...

exoticfruits Sat 09-Feb-13 19:43:45

I can't see how you fit that amount of history into 4years for key stage 2.

SJKenyon Sat 09-Feb-13 19:45:56

Just in case everyone thinks I am just being negative, I do approve of the reintroduction of MFL at KS2, as I will happily teach French (my degree) and German. However, still not sure where they will expect me to shoehorn it in to get to necessary standard in an already stuffed year 6 programme. Barely have time for Art/DT/music now.

Tiggles Sat 09-Feb-13 19:47:21

You made me interested enough to read (well skim) the document despite it not being relevant per se to me smile
My genuine response is, I would love my kids to know all that, or at least to have experienced it, before they leave primary school. However, I am very happy to admit I am not a teacher, and have no idea if it is actually feasible or not. This is also based on my personal experience at school where I genuninely regretted NEVER doing a fast paced chronological study of British history. My assumption from skimming the document is that is what is being given in KS2 to be studied in more depth in KS3. But could be very wrong.
IF this is a major change from what is already taught, then yes it is an issue, inasmuch as I do think teachers need to be able to stick at something for a while, to get fully familiar with it.

ClayDavis Sat 09-Feb-13 19:47:51

As much as it pains me to say it, I don't really dislike the KS1 part of the curriculum. They haven't thrown everything out just because it was part of the old curriculum. There's a little bit less genre theory in the early stages of writing, which is good. I can also see lots of space for teaching creatively within it.

In terms of KS2 history, I agree with the chronological overview idea. I'm just not sure they've got the content quite right.

SJKenyon Sat 09-Feb-13 19:53:20

Fair enough. I don't think there's too much wrong with the old history curriculum in KS2 as it stands . We do a lot of fantastic cross-curricular work based on it.

heggiehog Sat 09-Feb-13 20:04:47

The content is abysmal.

ReallyTired Sat 09-Feb-13 20:05:34

"Under computing for KS1 it says that they will be taught to write and test simple programmes. Interested (because I'm a software engineer) is that new? What software language to they use?"

I expect that key stage 1 children will use logo (moving a turtle through a maze) or do projects in Scratch. They are only between the age of 5 to 7.

I imagine that older children (ie. secondary) can choose whatever language the teacher wants. I would have thought that javascript or VBA or simple basic would be suitable choices. Although its not strictly a programming language an introduction to HTML would not hurt.

I think the new curriculum will be over crowded, but the topics suggested are interesting. Its just that there are only so many hours in a day.

ClayDavis Sat 09-Feb-13 20:13:08

The old history curriculum was all over the place. There was little sense of what went where and there was no continuity with KS3 and 4 at all. It was like they were two completely separate curricula. This one isn't perfect. There are things I'd like to see added e.g. Ancient Egypt/Fertile Crescent, Ancient China, Indus Valley. I also think condensing that amount of British history into 4 years is too much. Perhaps moving some of that into Yr 2 could be a possibility.

Wellthen Sat 09-Feb-13 20:15:51

The history page actually says that children should be taught the chronology of British and world History and then lists all the periods that have previously been quoted. It doesn't say that must study all of them in depth. I think this is the way in which the new curriculum allows for a little more freedom - schools can pick periods to focus on that will excite their children or be more relevant. However it is still important to ensure children have a general picture and timeline of history.

I quite like it actually, the Tories seem to be doing good things with the primary curriculum while ruining secondary. Disappointed PSHE is not compulsory though.

mrz Sat 09-Feb-13 20:19:19

In the current ICT curriculum children will use programmable toys like bee-bots and turtles and write simple instructions.

From the stated intent to allow teachers to teach we are faced with an overflowing offering ...wait for longer school days to follow perhaps

noramum Sat 09-Feb-13 20:23:58

I have a history mad DD in Year 1 and she would love this.

She just finished the half-term topic of the solar system, she knows more than I do.

I think yes, literacy and maths is absolute necessary but first, it can be combined in the topics and also I somehow doubt they will learn so much to do a dissertation in it afterwards.

I think it is a lot for primary school, looking back I hardly had more than some local history in my primary school years in Germany but you still have 6 years of secondary school to cover the rest of the world.

Crusades is a vital teaching topic in today's world. What is so different than teaching them that Hitler gassed the Jews and people died in concentration camps. And what the English did during the Boer Wars?

SJKenyon Sat 09-Feb-13 20:31:04

I agree with mrz - I think longer school day will be next suggestion. Also agree with Clay Davis on including Ancient China and Indus Valley (which I already cover as it is in old curriculum).

Imsosorryalan Sat 09-Feb-13 20:35:03

This looks too much to fit into a normal school day. Realistically, most teachers, through no fault of their own, will have to rush through the topics and look at nothing in depth. How can we complain about this though?

SJKenyon Sat 09-Feb-13 20:44:24

This is one of my points - children enjoy looking at a topic in depth and learning to think comes from having the time to make links between areas of learning. Not rushing from one thing to the next. I already cover quite a few of the topics included in the list. I try to change my history topics each year to avoid re-teaching same topic to children in mixed year group classes. Also to keep me fresh - I re-research and re-build my planning each time, to make it fit together with other areas of the curriculum and to ensure curriculum coverage across KS2 (which is my responsibility). If the topics are to be taught sequentially as listed, then some of the more gory subjects (which year 5 and 6 love!) will be 'wasted' on year 3, such as Roman invasions. My year 6 last year loved it. I don't see them loving "Chaucer and the revival of learning".

ClayDavis Sat 09-Feb-13 20:51:33

The mixed year groups thing is a problem that I don't think anyone designing the history curriculum has though of. The history curriculum I taught in the US was sequential but I only taught in single age classes, so I'm not sure how they deal with that there.

The computer curriculum is awful. As much as I'm in favour of programming being taught it looks like its been shoved in without much thought to it.

SJKenyon Sat 09-Feb-13 20:53:45

Also they haven't thought much about the ability of many teachers to actually tecah programming. Or whether schools have the appropriate software or hardware to manage it.

ClayDavis Sat 09-Feb-13 21:18:19

I think that's a problem across this curriculum. In some areas it is very content specific (history, geography) and in others e.g. computing, art, history he's tried to leave it open-ended about what to teach. Those areas look a bit vague and wish-washy and could be problematic for teachers who aren't strong in those particular areas.

Haberdashery Sat 09-Feb-13 21:47:27

Having looked at it a bit (particularly in regard to Newton) I think you are scaremongering a bit. It looks like only older children would be expected to have some idea of what Newton was actually talking about. Younger children would only be introduced to simple ideas relating to what Newton thought about and his life. I seriously cannot see a problem with this. In fact, I am slightly disappointed as I think earlier and better science opportunities would benefit us greatly as a society. I bloody hate Michael Gove and the rest of them, btw, so am totally not here to tell you how they're wonderful people etc.

I take your point about primary teachers not necessarily being able to teach the things required eg programming, but it is really very easy stuff. The KS1 requirements sound like things that many schools are already doing to me. The KS2 requirements sound like things I taught myself as a child by playing with a very basic computer in the days when computers were few and far between. Surely they can't really be beyond the grasp of primary teachers?

ClayDavis Sat 09-Feb-13 22:17:58

I don't think its beyond the grasp of primary teachers. However, if you are going to add something completely new to the curriculum then IMO you need to be a bit more prescriptive about exactly what skills, knowledge and progression you are looking for. Especially if its an area that the majority of teachers don't have any experience in.

Hulababy Sat 09-Feb-13 22:26:18

The computing curriculum will be logo, beebot, scratch type programming in KS1, extending this in KS2 and onto other programming as they get older I guess.

We have done some control work in KS1 for years and have introduced Scratch programming for Y2 from this year.

We are still doing some application work in KS1 though - use of PowerPoint and Word for example. Plans for database type searching is including work on geneaology/ancestry databases - also links well to privacy of data, etc too (why we can't get up to date census records, etc) - as well as internet based searches.

Already do a lot of internet safety from foundation up as it is.

seeker Sat 09-Feb-13 22:31:37

Science curriculum looks good.

fishcalledwonder Sat 09-Feb-13 23:05:02

Still wading through it, but the mentions of learning poetry by heart jumped out at me.

All seems based on children acquiring knowledge rather than skills. Feel rather depressed now!

AbbyR1973 Sat 09-Feb-13 23:26:21

Actually as a parent I quite like this. It looks like it will build a broad foundation of general knowledge which seems sadly lacking in this country these days. I guess it's all about level isn't it? I read the history bit and it talked about covering chronologically over KS2 &3, perhaps some things could be focused on in more detail. I have no problem with DS's learning any of these things. Do we really need to whitewash over bits of history we are less proud of- you mentioned the crusades- surely this is about presentation of the subject matter. My children are of mixed race with ancestors on their father's side who in all likelihood were victims of this country's involvement in the slave trade- I certainly hope colonialism and slavery will be covered. This country is built on a rich tapestry of events some good and some bad. I see no reason to omit bits. As for gravity- DS1 (5 years) and DS2 (3 years) both know a bit about what it is. Modern languages in KS2 will be fabulous- children learn languages better at a younger age.
Children are like little sponges, naturally interested in discovering the world around them and how it works. I think all too often we underestimate them.
In a similar discussion about poetry in schools not long ago (not on mums net) someone said poetry "wasn't relevant to the lives of many children" as an argument for why it shouldn't be part of the curriculum. What on earth sort of country do we live in if we say to the children of those parents who can't be bothered to offer their children poetry at home "this isn't for you" by not offering it at school. Children of middle class parents like me will learn about this stuff regardless of what the national curriculum says because we read to our children, visit museums, find out about places we are visiting on holiday and generally provide opportunities. Schools should be levelling up the playing field a bit by providing opportunity for ALL children to develop this knowledge.
We seem to have a self destructive hate of academia in this country. I say self destructive because none of the currently developing world powers like India or China seem to have such a negative view of academic learning.

AbbyR1973 Sat 09-Feb-13 23:32:56

Re learning poetry by heart. This doesn't take up much time and doesn't require forcing children to recite poems parrot fashion. dS2 (3 years) quite often picks up the poem book and pretends to read "From a railway carriage" or "on the Ning nang Ning." He knows them because we occasionally have a poem at bedtime and those seem to be favourite so he's heard them a few times.
Most children start school able to recite some "poetry" by heart- Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Baa Baa Black sheep to start with. Poetry is good for children- it helps them play with rhyme and language plus they love it :-)

Learning poetry by heart is brilliant.

I just want whatever history is taught to be taught well. DD (Year 1) learnt all about the Gunpowder Plot in November - she can recount the whole story. It wasn't until last week that I realised they maybe should have checked her understanding of the phrase 'blow up' - turns out she was under the impression that Guy Fawkes was trying to inflate King James confused.

OK, that's funny, but still...

Pyrrah Sun 10-Feb-13 00:35:38

Sounds pretty good to me and much like what I covered at Prep School. A good grounding in British history is ideal.

What is the problem with having a longer school day? Finishing at 3.15 is very inconvenient for a lot of people. Far better to finish at 5pm and have sport, art and music given more time as well as the core subjects.

Given that I always had school on Saturdays as well as a 5.45pm finish plus homework and we all coped with fine I don't see a big issue.

Lots of parents - myself included - send their child to after-school clubs and would be just as happy with them spending a couple more hours at school proper.

Pyrrah Sun 10-Feb-13 00:37:15

AbbyR - Agree with everything you say.

PastSellByDate Sun 10-Feb-13 07:24:54


Thank you for bringing this to the attention of all of us on Mumsnet & thanks to mrz for providing the link to the document.

I have read comments with interest but as someone with children surrounded by remains of Victorian Industrial revolution and not too far from Ironbridge I am personally horrified that my children have absolutely no idea who Isambard Kingdom Brunel is or England's great engineering history and lead in the industrial revolution.

I seriously doubt KS2 are expected to appreciate the maths of gravity (info here if interested: - but they can observe the effect and the basic principle that regardless of mass items fall at the same rate (unless they have some form of parachute effect - e.g. a sycamore seed ('helicopter seeds') or feather). That observation will open the door to quite a few interesting observatons and make understanding tides (earth/ moon gravitational pull) and planetary orbit a bit more understandable.

My DDs (Y3 & Y5) love art - but it amounts to close to 2 full school days a week right now if you include D&T work in that as well (and no I'm not joking) - so a reduction from our perspective (or better integration with other elements of the curriculum) would be very welcome. I do recognise that planning, calculation and design are also part of this process - but I'd personally love to see the children challenged with designing a cradle to protect a raw egg if dropped from the roof of the school (1 storey building - lovely integration of gravity, D&T and hopefully a bit of maths or set the children to building a rocket, the one that goes highest wins a prize or something?).

My DD1 has made pencil cases 3 out of 4 years running now. I've posted elsewhere about my woes with out school - but from my perspective some high standards and a bit of a shake up would be very welcome.

I'll go away and read this document with interest.

SJKenyon Sun 10-Feb-13 11:40:09

Past sell by date - thanks for that and interesting comments on science in particular. We do teach about parachute effect, seeds, gravitational pull on tides and planetary orbits. These are all part of the upper KS2 curriculum already. It does sound like your children do a lot of art and DT. Unfortunately, as I am teaching year 6 at present, we have very little time for either. One of my concerns is that if the curriculum becomes even more overcrowded with statutory programmes of learning, then these subjects will be squeezed out even further.
If your children are constantly making pencil cases, then that suggests the school is following the same QCA scheme year after year. Mine puts together a creative curriculum each year drawing on core topics and brainstorming new ways to teach the requirements of the current National Curriculum within the topic. Children complete projects which cover science, history, geography, literacy, art, DT and Music and they love it. They are always keen to find out what the next topic is going to be. This is also why I am worried about an overly prescriptive history curriculum in KS2.

SJKenyon Sun 10-Feb-13 11:48:54

AbbyR - "a self-destructive hatred of academia" ??

Very far from the truth for me. I come from a highly academic background and I won't bore anyone with my own qualifications.

Pyrrah - had you considered that teachers are allowed a life outside of school? If we finished at 5pm, I would be at school from 7.45am to about 6pm. Then I travel home and make dinner for my own family. Then most evenings I spend about two hours, sometimes more depending on marking load, working and preparing for next day. Saturday school? Are you even considering that teachers would have to be paid for that? Again, I already spend around ten hours of my weekends working. I currently work around 60 hours a week and have two children of my own. Please don't suggest that teachers should work longer hours to cover childcare for others. I find that very insulting.

SJKenyon Sun 10-Feb-13 12:26:25

If you really think the suggested history curriculum is so wonderful, take a look at what the Historical Association has to say:

SJKenyon Sun 10-Feb-13 12:27:30

I quote:
Most primary school teachers are not trained historians and are not equipped to teach such a vast sweep of British history in any meaningful way
7-11 year olds are being asked to understand the complexities of the War of the Roses, religious schisms, and how to define a constitution and nation. Quite frankly how many well educated adults can do that?
Three years of Historical Association surveys have revealed the limited time secondary schools give to teaching history. To try and teach the content listed in any meaningful way would require a vast expansion of history teaching time. This is a high speed superficial tour rather than the old fashioned grand tour.

partystress Sun 10-Feb-13 12:28:48

Thanks for starting the thread SJKenyon, especially as the 'consultation' seems to have been issued in a good week to bury bad news... I teach upper KS2 and they understand gravity, no problem. We have even had a bit of a look at thermodynamics. The world around us is absolutely what interests children.

However, with history, unless you happen to live close to a historically significant site, it is not around us - the teacher has to bring it to life somehow. (And I know that parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy is still with us (just), but it is not concrete to children of this age.) We use artefacts, role plays, contemporary accounts, all kinds of questioning and self-directed work to help children understand what happened and why it was significant.

Horrible Histories has indeed shown that focusing on the yucky bits, putting stories to songs etc can make any era vaguely interesting, but I still look at the list of things to cover in KS2 and wilt. If I, as a mature, graduate professional with an interest in politics find it unappealing, how likely is it that 7-11 years olds will have a passion ignited? My very bright, historically switched on son has just covered the Glorious Revolution in Y8 and hated it. He looked at the KS1 and 2 lists and commented that everything he had really enjoyed at primary was gone sad.

SJKenyon Sun 10-Feb-13 12:48:24

Absolutely agree with you partystress. We have similar background - mature graduate with secondary aged children. My 15 year old son thinks what is suggested is appalling and he is also extremely bright and absorbs history like a sponge.

learnandsay Sun 10-Feb-13 13:08:20

Looks pretty interesting. But will probably detract from the three rs. There's a difference between what you can learn in primary school and what you should learn there.

musicalfamily Sun 10-Feb-13 14:21:12

I think it is absolutely excellent and well overdue.

mrz Sun 10-Feb-13 16:14:08

Some areas are slimmed down and the move seems to be from knowing how to knowing facts ...

Pyrrah Sun 10-Feb-13 23:30:08

Pyrrah - had you considered that teachers are allowed a life outside of school? If we finished at 5pm, I would be at school from 7.45am to about 6pm. Then I travel home and make dinner for my own family. Then most evenings I spend about two hours, sometimes more depending on marking load, working and preparing for next day. Saturday school? Are you even considering that teachers would have to be paid for that? Again, I already spend around ten hours of my weekends working. I currently work around 60 hours a week and have two children of my own. Please don't suggest that teachers should work longer hours to cover childcare for others. I find that very insulting.

Childcare - I made that point to cover those who would suggest that those hours were too long for a child to be at school not to suggest teachers should cover childcare.

However I don't see why children shouldn't be taught for more hours in the day.

The hours you quote are no different from those worked by millions of other people - they don't have much of a life during the working week either - nor do they get such generous holidays.

Given the hours that my own family and friends work and the amount they earn, I don't think teachers are exactly hard done by.

exoticfruits Mon 11-Feb-13 07:32:35

I gave up teaching because I wanted a life- there are no extra hours to give!

exoticfruits Mon 11-Feb-13 07:34:00

Any more and you might as well sleep at school and go home for one day at weekends............and don't start me on the holidays that teachers are perceived to have.

BackforGood Mon 11-Feb-13 16:23:24

Marking place

<Mostly to annoy Juice wink - see other thread >

GooseyLoosey Mon 11-Feb-13 16:27:24

It's too much, but current teaching is woefully inadequate. I would like my children to know more about the history of their country and not in generic terms like there was a tudor period, there were Vikings and there were Romans. I would like them to know to details. I would like them to know key events. Change is a good idea, but perhaps it should be better considered.

haggisaggis Mon 11-Feb-13 16:43:31

OK, it may be too much but under the Scottish system, there is no prescribed list - my 2 dc (one 13, one 10) have done NOTHING on Vikings, Romans, Ancient Greece. Their topic work over the years has covered such things as "Fairy Tales", "Plastic Bags", "Bridges", "Shoes". Under Curriculum for Excellence, teachers are expected to teach skills - not facts - so consequently it is quite possible for a child to go through primary school learning little history or geography.

Hulababy Mon 11-Feb-13 17:13:02

Pyrrah - you've fallen for the biggest misconception surrounding teaching ever. Do you believe teachers only work for the hours that children are present? Ever single lesson has to be planned for and then assessed afterwards. This cannot occur when children are in school. There are also meetings to be had within schools, with parents and with outside agencies. These cannot take place where children are present.

So whilst the child's school day is 8:50-3:20 or whatever, the teachers working day is not this. The teachers must be in before then, and they will then have work to do afterwards to, this bringing them to what you might call a normal working day. The holidays are not 13 weeks of free time. They are non contact time in many ways - as lessons still need planning. classrooms preparing, work assessing, etc. Every teacher I know has always worked for many of the days in their holidays. Also bear in mind that teachers are not actually paid for those holidays too.

So okay - make school days longer for children - but then pay teachers more to cover this and cover the extra from the holidays - oh, and don't forget you expect a lower quality of lesson plans because they'll be no time left to do that!

Not to mention that the children will end up shattered too - so by 4pm they'll be learning very little anyway. They'll be hungry, tired and grumpy. Some of these children are only 4 and 5 after all.

What about chance for extra curricular, non school based activities too = swimming, drama club, ballet, football, music lessons..... or simply just the chance to relax and play with friends and family.

After all school is not childcare is it? And as for parents needing childcare - well, school has existed in a similar form for years - the idea that parents need to have childcare organised is not a new one. You know that when you chose to begin a family!

Thanks to all who have contributed to this thread: we are contemplating a return to the UK after a number of years in NZ, I have been watching the reforms in the English education system closely, and some of the contributions have been very enlightening for me.

To me, the history curriculum sounds like one I would have absolutely loved when I was at school. I don't see any individual item that strikes me as being impossible to teach at an age-appropriate level.

My DD1 is in her fourth year at a New Zealand (Roman Catholic) school. She has done precisely no history at all. Nada, zilch. Nothing? Well, she has done a little bit on the Treaty of Waitangi 1840, but she hasn't been taught it as history but more as a moral platitude. She didn't even know who Captain Cook was until I told her. I think this is wrong. She has no opportunity to explore any historical interest she might have in school - in fact, the fact that the only thing close to history she is getting comes with a heavy dose of morals strikes me as starting off on completely the wrong foot. So, I am pretty jealous of the proposed reforms in England.

BTW I hope this thread won't get distracted onto the topic of teachers' hours. Mr Google says that UK teachers work on average 50 hours per week, and he also says that a 50-hour average is more than just about every other trade and profession out there. I think the inevitable anecdotes of people working 23904839053485348440 hours per week needs to be set against that.

learnandsay Tue 12-Feb-13 07:12:51

I would have thought it would take some doing to disinterest children in British history. But by putting The Glorious Revolution in the curriculum somebody is clearly having a go. To finish the job off nicely and make sure very young children never want to study history again I'd just add The Corn Laws, The Reformation and the Hansiatic League.

RiversideMum Tue 12-Feb-13 07:40:44

I think this is another case of Gove throwing the baby out with the bathwater. When he first started moaning about the history curriculum, I did feel that he had a point that huge periods of history were left out. However, this is more due to duplication at GCSE and A Level and overlaps with the KS2 curriculum (the second world war is the most obvious example). What he is proposing at primary (esp KS2) is what I did in my first 2 years at grammar school and is precisely why I gave up history as soon as I could.

It is quite clear that nobody writing this proposed currciulum has stepped into a primary school. Most schools I know teach a creative curriculum based on integrated topics so that learning can be set in context. I don't see many opportunities for that in this new proposal.

cumbrialass Tue 12-Feb-13 07:48:27

Of course there are lots of lovely topics in the "new" history curriculum, what there isn't is the time to teach each and every one of them in more than a superficial "this is what happened, when, write it down " kind of way. We estimate that each of the "topics" in KS2 will have just under an hour available to teach it, so Henry VIII- an hour, Crusades- an hour, Commonwealth-an hour etc. So how on earth can we infuse children with a love of history when everything will need to be taught in a "Wham Bamm, thank you Ma'am" manner!

learnandsay Tue 12-Feb-13 08:15:14

If you race through history at a million miles an hour you're never going to create a love of history but you can make lots and lots of interesting points (I think as someone upthread has pointed out ala Horrible Histories.) My fouryear old already knows the Greeks did the Olympics naked, Vespasian died before he finished the Colosseum, the Romans wiped their bottoms with a sponge and so on. And then it's for later years to build on. It's useful in the fact that when someone later says the Greeks, or the Roman's or Richard III they've got some idea what you're talking about. The speaker can then go on to make their point. I think also if you give them a smattering of history they can then create their own links. My daughter has been to Benjamin Disraeli's house and a Queen Victoria coronation anniversary. She's happy with the notion that Queen Victoria and Benjamin Disraeli were good friends. And she knows that Benjamin Disraeli came after Oliver Cromwell and before us. (Although she doesn't know anything else about Oliver Cromwell.)

bruffin Tue 12-Feb-13 08:36:56

But some children have only just clicked with reading and writing by yr 2. And a year later they have to start with all that????

That is totally irrelevant, being able to read has no connection with intelligence and the ability to understand.

In year 2 my dcs 15 and 17 were doing the crimean war and florence nightingale as well as the reasons for poppy day. My dd was petrified of war because of it, but thankfully my mum told her about her wartime childhood and she was ok.

They were doing forces and gravity in Year 1.

If it is true that schools are only required to cover a topic without being required to cover them in any specific way or to any specific extent, it is presumably possible to cover one topic about half an hour to make room for others.

Course it has no baring in intelligence I never said that but there's still alot of reading and writing involved when learning about these subjects. Assuming they may have to look stuff up or design posters or make tea stained maps , copy off board etc.

Just seems so formal which isn't a bad thing just it seems an awful lot of stuff to learn. Obviously that's what they r there for just when u lookst it all written down .....

bruffin Tue 12-Feb-13 08:51:38

But no more reading than they would have done for what they were doing before in year 2 ie crimea and poppy day etc

The point was that they have possibly only just grasped the basics by then and it seems a massive jump. My dd is in yr one still bringing home pictures and salt dough Xmas decs I just right now can't picture her doing all that stuff. I'm surprised that's all it's just weird seeing it all written down

I'm sure she will learn like all kids but up till now the learnings seemed do subtle I was merely expressing surprise at the sheer volume it appeared to be.

Kelloggs36 Wed 13-Feb-13 19:47:56

I looked at the proposed History curriculum last night and almost cried! How dull! At the moment, children LOVE learning about WW2 and the Victorians and this is to be thrown out in favour of learning about the spread of Christianity, and iron and bronze age - dull, dull, dull and boring! All that was interesting and fun in History learning has been chucked out for some political idiot's ideology.

Pyrrah has confused education with free childcare.

That is by the way, though.

Far worse is the fact that people are actually supporting a curriculum that allocates an hour to Henry VIII and presumably another hour to the crusades.

There will be far more children coming home convinced that Guy Fawkes was trying to inflate King James under the new curriculum; if you have an hour (less time for sharpening pencils, changing out of PE kit, handing out books, going to the toilet and all the other ittle things that eat into my history lessons) to cover each topic from that list, there will be no time to check the comprehension of each of 30+ children.

I am even more upset by the geography; the fact that there will be no study of Africa or Asia, although in many schools a large minority if the children will have backgrounds in those parts of the world. My school has valuable links with schools in both Nigeria and Pakistan, which teach our children so much about the experience of children in other parts of the world and also provide useful funds for the partner schools. Will all these now have to be dropped? And how will we afford a new library of books?

I do like the KS2 MFL, but why does everyone forget that it has been a curriculum entitlement for several years, introduced by Labour?

PolkadotCircus Wed 13-Feb-13 22:54:04

I'd be livid if the day was longer.

My dc are 9,9 and 8-they're knackered when I pick them up which is why I don't do homework midweek.We do it all at the weekend.And what about Brownies,Cubs,swimming,music lessons,ballet and just playing outside with their mates like kids should be doing at 4pm?

DewDr0p Wed 13-Feb-13 23:03:29

I dislike a lot of Mr Gove's meddling with the education system and this is probably yet another example. It all seems so regressive.

But OP I do think you have rather undermined yourself with the reference to gravity. Ds1 learned all about it in Yr1 and was very keen to hang out of the window explaining it to the decorator painting the windows "so what it means is that if I lean too far I'll go splat on the ground" grin The poor guy was terrified that ds was about to give a full demonstration I think!

choccyp1g Wed 13-Feb-13 23:12:52

LaBelleDameSansPatienceWed 13-Feb-13 22:27:51 Pyrrah has confused education with free childcare.

Please don't put the idea into their heads...or next they will be charging us for "the childcare element" of school.

[completely off topic I know]

HelpOneAnother Wed 13-Feb-13 23:36:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

adeucalione Thu 14-Feb-13 11:36:04

That big long list on the first page looks horrendous, but actually there is quite a lot of overlap.

I don't know whether someone has already linked to it, but the Historical Association has published the PoS here and it looks OK to me.

Actually, I don't think that the Iron Age, etc, would be boring at all, and it would be quite nice to use local features such as Stone Henge and long barrows in my history teaching. And I don't agree that as 'non specialists' we primary teachers would be unable to effectively teach new topics. Many of us are reasonably intelligent and can both read and use google.

Vikings not really a big feature of the history of Dorset.

It's the prescription that makes me so angry - who are they, with their private-school-in-the-60s background, their lack of knowledge of education and their total unwillingness to use the state system for their children, who are they to tell us what to teach?

I really like the MFL ideas, but why will we be forced to choose a language from their list? Who wants or needs to spend three years in a state primary learning Ancient Greek? Why not learn Urdu and celebrate the local community? Why not Italian?

I have nothing against learning about South America, but think that learning about Africa is really valuable and very relevant to KS2. I want to be able to choose what is relevant to my school and my pupils and, heaven forbid, my enthusiasms and talents.

adeucalione Thu 14-Feb-13 15:24:19

LaBelle, as an aside, haven't you got a really famous viking mass burial pit in Dorset?

Oh good grief, of course there is - discovered when they were making the relief road for the Olympics! blush
This teacher needs to do her homework. This teacher needs to do her homework. This teacher needs to do her homework. This teacher needs to do her homework. This teacher needs to do her homework. This teacher needs to do her homework. [Repeat 100 times]

And what a brilliant way in the the topic for, say, year 6! (Maybe a bit grusome for younger ones.) I am not, per se, against any of the suggested topics, just the way it is being done. And I do think that I could make any topic interesting, given long enough in the classroom to really address it and enough notice to google the materials properly.

squareheadcut Thu 14-Feb-13 17:27:11

i did it - i wrote a letter and uploaded it to the website - thanks for bringing this to my attention.

take3 Thu 14-Feb-13 18:52:15

"-the key stage two material is deadly dull!"
Well.. it depends how it is taught - it is up to the qualified teachers to make learning fun.

I think it is great that the curriculum is becoming more knowledge based rather than just skills based.... children do NOT have to read and write brilliantly to enjoy british history - we just want them to get excited about learning.... whether they are writing well or not. There is so much to learn and so much to find out about. If children enjoy finding out at Year 1/2 then what a great gift we are giving them.... personally I can't see how that can be dull. Learning can be SO much fun. Skills... skills....skills... now that can be dull.

mrz Thu 14-Feb-13 18:54:04

I think it's just so overcrowded there won't be an opportunity to study anything in depth

ipadquietly Thu 14-Feb-13 19:00:48

The draft geography curriculum is astounding (can't quite get the right adjective):
KS1/2 UK, bits of Europe, N/S America

Then, when the children have reached 11 (taking into account that most migrants are from the Indian subcontinent/Asia)
KS3 Africa, Asia, Russia

Australia seems to be too insignificant to deserve a mention (unless we blinked and missed it).

It is truly reprehensible.


Haberdashery Thu 14-Feb-13 20:28:23

>> Skills... skills....skills... now that can be dull.

This sounds nuts to me. There is nothing more satisfying than learning to understand something properly.

>> Skills... skills....skills... now that can be dull.

No, skills shouldn't be dull. It isn't all reading and writing. It's about understanding, which comes about due to using ict, drama, reading, drawing, discussing, thinking (!), sharing, plaing games .... Now, trying to memorise too many half-understood facts; that's boring.

I totally agree with ipadquietly about geography. That worries me more than the history. Eas the adjective you were seeking 'appalling'?


ipadquietly Thu 14-Feb-13 21:02:47

I bet pub quizzes will be very competitive in 20 years time!

I see that the scaffolded learning model has been completely ditched......

Have these people ever met 7 year olds? Do they realise that they are only just developing a concept of time and space? Do they realise that something is really difficult to learn without a frame of reference, and democracy, parliament and war and peace may be a little advanced for your average 5 year old? Are they aware that MS schools are inclusive a percentage of pupils find it difficult to learn?

I'm working up to replying to the consultation doc over half term, but, as I said, I am finding words difficult to find to describe my feelings about the draft. Xenophobic has to come into it...... imperialistic, arrogant, naive, ill-informed....

...illadvised, innappropriate, unrealistic ...

ipadquietly Thu 14-Feb-13 21:08:54

And another thing I don't understand. How are maintained schools going to be assessed against the academies and free schools who are teaching their school-specific curricula?
There will be no reliable accountability. So how will they measure if education is effective?

Willsmum79 Thu 14-Feb-13 21:31:44

I teach Y2. Just come into this (had no idea the draft currciulum was out - but I may get brownie points at work for 'downloading it'!!! grin )
I have had a quick look, and from what I can see, I like it. Although would hate to be in the position ofmy KS2 colleagues and looking at the history list shock.
And did someone (Mrsz?) mention that they would be looking into extending the school day?!?!?!?!? Was this a passing comment or actual fact???
I may have to switch DH and DS (13 month old) into hibernation mode and move them into a cupboard for 6-8 weeks each half term.

Willsmum, in what way is it better than what we have now? (Genuinely curious; I teach mainly ks2.)

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