Free school head without any teaching qualifications plans to ignore curriculum

(313 Posts)
mrz Sun 10-Mar-13 11:52:06
difficultpickle Sun 10-Mar-13 14:23:30

I think there is a lot to be said for ignoring the National Curriculum, that is one of the reasons why those who can afford to choose private education.

mrz Sun 10-Mar-13 14:38:26

ignoring it when you were formally director of the think tank that advised the government on the contents seems to send a clear message

Northey Sun 10-Mar-13 14:39:35

What message?

mrz Sun 10-Mar-13 14:42:02

that they did a really good job producing an effective curriculum [rollseyes]

Northey Sun 10-Mar-13 14:43:36

So it's good that they are taking up the option to not follow it then. What's your problem?

mrz Sun 10-Mar-13 14:45:45


Northey Sun 10-Mar-13 14:47:39

How extraordinarily rude! I genuinely don't understand what your problem is. Why not just explain?

mrz Sun 10-Mar-13 14:54:57

Would you want the person in charge of your child's school to endorse something publicly, something that is going to be imposed on thousands of other children but in private reject it as "rubbish" says a great deal about that person's integrity biscuit

Lucyellensmum95 Sun 10-Mar-13 14:56:35

That article was poorly written and difficult to understand. So what are these "free" schools anyway? And yes, OP, why are you being so rude?

cumbrialass Sun 10-Mar-13 15:34:57

The article is clear that the Head of the Pimlico Primary school was previously deputy director of CIVITAS, the organisation that has come up with the new curriculum which is being imposed on all local authority schools. However she clearly thinks this curriculum isn't good enough for her own school, even though the rest of us have to put up with it, and is doing her own thing. So it's clearly a question of "Don't do as I do, do as I say"

Jolielaide Sun 10-Mar-13 15:41:26

Interesting article. Looking at TCC's website, the humanities-based curriculum for the school has not yet been released. I wonder how it'll compare with the draft framework- especially the KS2 history curriculum?

lizzyhum Sun 10-Mar-13 15:43:41

Another example of our hypocritical government. The curriculum is fine for the riff raff but not the privileged few!

ipadquietly Sun 10-Mar-13 15:48:32

Yes, but she is basing her curriculum on E.D. Hirsch's ideas, which formed the basis of the new draft.

'Hirsch believes that the teachers who are currently in our schools, as well as future teachers, should be encouraged to abandon the teaching philosophies of educational naturalism that stemmed from the Romantic movement. He believes that the emphasis on natural and innate ability has proven to be a failure. He says that the emphasis on hands-on learning and critical thinking skills espoused by the theory of natural learning should be replaced with a core, common curriculum that focuses on a specific, shared body of knowledge. Hirsch has developed the Core Knowledge Sequence for grades K-8, which comprises about 50% of the participating schools' curriculum.

He believes that "the goal of meeting students' individual needs in the classroom has been greatly misused in American educational theory". If a teacher has 25 students in a classroom and is giving individual attention to one, they are failing to give attention to 24. He favors teachers using whole-class instruction instead.'

No pesky differentiation there then. (I can't think how that sits with the 2012-13 Ofsted framework, which seems to be differentiation-obsessed!)

Time to start drawing up the new framework in time for the new curriculum next year, methinks grin

mrz Sun 10-Mar-13 16:05:06
AScorpionPitForMimes Sun 10-Mar-13 18:13:14

I will never forgive Michael Gove for what he is doing to our education system.

AScorpionPitForMimes Sun 10-Mar-13 18:16:37

And the way he is interpreting E.D Hirsch for the new history curriculum is just nausea inducing - I first went to America in 1995 and the ignorance of people over there about the world outside their own borders was breathtaking. It strikes me that the Hirsch curriculum will only make this worse - it seems to place one's own nation at the centre of the universe at the expense of knowledge of the global environment we now live in. It's backward looking, insular and culturally imperialist.

Euphemia Sun 10-Mar-13 18:55:09

I'll be really interested to see how English and Scottish education compare after a few years of Gove.

In the meantime I'll do a wee Highland fling to celebrate the fact that he has no influence here ...


mrz Sun 10-Mar-13 19:00:23

Perhaps we should send him back to the land of his birth Euphemia wink

Euphemia Sun 10-Mar-13 19:21:29

Fuck that - I'll meet the sod in our birth city and kick his over-privileged arse down the Fleshmarket Close steps. On a Saturday morning, when they really stink of pee. smile

mrz Sun 10-Mar-13 19:25:44

If you can arrange for him to hit his "heed" on every step then it might help knock some sense into the man

Feenie Sun 10-Mar-13 20:35:16

Euphemia, you made me laugh grin

Blissx Sun 10-Mar-13 20:49:12

I'm quite shocked that some parents don't see anything wrong with this??? This is a 27 year old with absolutely no educational experience, who, not only sat on the committee advising what should go in the primary National Curriculum for the entire country, but was then appointed without interview, to head a new "free school". This woman then claimed that they did not like the National Curriculum, that they themselves devised and are making everyone else LA controlled do it, so would adopt "content-rich" learning instead, in which studies in the US have found to lower results. To top it all off, someone didn't even know what a free school was???? Gove is systematically destroying education so that he can be noticed enough to get a promotion within Government.
This is our childrens' future we are talking about!!

mrz Sun 10-Mar-13 20:52:51

Thank you Blissx ...

difficultpickle Sun 10-Mar-13 21:06:32

But criticising this appointment is just picking at a scab rather than looking at what caused the wound in the first place.

Blissx Sun 10-Mar-13 21:24:35

Without a scab, people aren't going to realise there is a wound in the first place. Gove is very good at doing this. Does anyone realise he made the announcement Academies and Free Schools don't have to appoint qualified teachers on the first day of the Olympic Games last summer???? Yet releases teacher bashing sound bites on a slow news day, that not even Cameron knows about. Gove used to be a journalist after all...
It's all so stealth appointments like this can go un-noticed and he can get Cameron's job. He doesn't care a jot about our little ones' education.

Feenie Sun 10-Mar-13 21:27:24

What Blissx said.

AScorpionPitForMimes Sun 10-Mar-13 21:37:10

Blissx has it in one. Gove has been slating state education in the UK from the word go, not because he gives a damn but because it's his route to serious power. He is doing untold damage for his own personal gain. And so many people are falling for it.

ipadquietly Sun 10-Mar-13 23:32:26

How did Ms Briggs become a deputy director of Civitas and educational advisor to the government, having left UCL in 2009 with an MA in early 20th century literature?
Where did she rack up her experience to advise about the curriculum and educational policy, to such a considerable extent that she can influence the future of state education? Her dates of entry to uni suggest that she went straight from A levels to BA and directly from BA to MA.

I can't find any information about her school-life anywhere, or her family background.

Who IS she?

mrz Mon 11-Mar-13 07:17:37

yes who is she ... Mr Gove decided to ignore the advice of the educational experts leading the curriculum review and go with the opinion of someone still working towards their teaching qualification (SCITT )
She did edit one of Hirsch's books ...does that qualify her to lead educational reform?

lesmisfan Mon 11-Mar-13 07:34:13

Bisjo, I have been surprised by just how much of the national curriculum private schools do follow both my DC's school and many of the top independents their friends attend.

ipadquietly Mon 11-Mar-13 19:18:52

Never mind, I see that she did some Saturday morning tuition on 'THE SUN School Scheme' run by 'think-tank Civitas under its Supplementary Schools Project, with the New Model School Company' back in 2009.

Run that past me again...... who was running what for whom? confused

mrz Mon 11-Mar-13 19:39:30

That's OK then she's highly qualified hmm

piprabbit Mon 11-Mar-13 19:50:36

How strange - she seems to have left university and instantly become a Deputy Director at Civitas.

Funny how some people seem to land on their feet.

BonfireOfKleenex Mon 11-Mar-13 20:04:28

It just stinks.

As does the fact that the 'free school' system gives free rein to those wishing to promote discriminatory religious agendas.

"Faith organisations have an advantage over parent groups in setting up free schools as they often have access to property, such as a church hall, and can swiftly mobilise community resources."

Roseformeplease Mon 11-Mar-13 20:06:28

So don't send your child there? <shrugs>

mrz Mon 11-Mar-13 20:08:54
BonfireOfKleenex Mon 11-Mar-13 20:12:42

"So don't send your child there? <shrugs>"

There's only so much money available for state-funded schools. If your local school chooses to discriminate against you because you are of the 'wrong' religion, then you will be disadvantaged - by having to schlep to a school that's further away, not of your choosing, etc.

BonfireOfKleenex Mon 11-Mar-13 20:17:57

I can see where this is going too - the government will be falling over themselves to let the likes of Evangelical organisations help to fund state schools, as long as they have wads of cash.

Scientologist funded schools might be a step too far - but perhaps not, nothing would surprise me with Gove.

mrz Mon 11-Mar-13 20:19:47
MiniTheMinx Mon 11-Mar-13 20:26:11

I guess deskilling teachers is necessary on the road to privatisation. The case is being made that teaching is not a skilled job for highly qualified candidates, therefore they can be paid less. Just another way of making education a viable investment for private capital.

It stinks.

ipadquietly Mon 11-Mar-13 20:38:47

I agree Mini
Also worrying is the status of our new education minister:

mrz Mon 11-Mar-13 20:52:02

London’s Pimlico Academy is one pioneering school that has introduced a ”Hirsch-style” curriculum in its new primary school. *Two young women are leading this experiment*: Anneliese Briggs and Daisy Christodoulou. Pimlico Academy of course is supported by venture capitalist Lord Nash, recently appointed an education minister to replace Lord Hill.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 11-Mar-13 20:58:09

Pardon me if I sound ignorant, but isn't this just what every government does.
Isn't all the education our dcs receive based on constant changes, have they ever been more than guinea pigs?
Tbh I don't think it is much different in the private sector, they still follow the NC but are allowed more leeway, can elaborate, but loosley follow the same.
I'm not suggesting there is a golden answer but don't understand how teachers and parents are surprised about this.

Euphemia Mon 11-Mar-13 21:01:40

People ask how we can afford free university tuition in Scotland. Look at the numbers below:

"A total of £50m - taken out of an axed technology fund for schools - was initially allocated for free schools for the first year of the policy, up to April 2011. And in November 2011, the government announced it had ear-marked an extra £600m on building 100 new free schools in England over the next three years."

The Scottish Government is spending just over £300m per year on university fees.

I know which I think is the better investment.

MiniTheMinx Mon 11-Mar-13 21:03:15

Venture capitalist......says it all really. This is all about the needs of the corporate class.

Teaching unions, educationalists and those on the left have always been accused of wanting to dumb down education. Interesting when you consider that most teachers are in favour of equipping children with the skills to learn and be resourceful self starters. I don't know much about Hirsch but it would seem that this method is about making subscribed (even limited) knowledge the goal rather than equipping children to think. I would argue that Gove et al want to dumb down working class kids because free thinkers are troublesome and upset the status quo.

Off to read all the links now.

ipadquietly Mon 11-Mar-13 21:07:57

I think it's worrying that all companies involved seem to be connected in some way, and have their fingers in so many pies. There is no real interest in education/the NHS/the penal system - all our public services seem to be falling into the hands of murky businessmen.

John Nash, the venture capitalist, education minister and academy sponsor, is also the chairman of Care UK, and 'gave £21,000 to fund Andrew Lansley’s personal office in November'.
Mr Nash, a private equity tycoon, also manages several other businesses providing services to the NHS and stands to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of Conservative policies to increase the use of private health providers.'

Is there the option of not sending your DC to this school. For example, if the others in the area are oversubscribed, can you be "allocated" this school without putting it down as one of your preferences?

It is one thing for a school to opt out of the national curriculum, but another for your child to be opted out too.

Blissx Mon 11-Mar-13 22:07:18

I feel like banging my head against a brick wall. This isn't about not following the National Curriculum or some government making small policy changes. This is about unqualified people being in charge of the NC in the first place, unqualified people educating our children with the view to privitising schools, money being diverted from your primary school to spend on undersubscribed political whims and good teachers leaving in droves to be replaced by friends in high places. These are big changes and not many people are even aware let alone care.Blimey, I'm sounding like a right harpy! Realise everyone has a right to their opinion, I just wish more parents were informed. Off to bed methinks!

CecilyP Mon 11-Mar-13 22:12:35

breathslowly, it is a very densely populated part of London, so I am sure there will be other options available, even for those who don't get any of their choices. OTOH, many other local schools are faith schools, so this may be the only non-denominational option for some families.

MiniTheMinx Mon 11-Mar-13 22:22:18

ipadquietly <head in hands> I even wonder if this front of class "knowledge" teaching method is about saving money. I was in primary in the 70's, all teaching was front of class, pointing at the board, prescriptive and knowledge based. Only one teaching assistant required. The less able children literally sank. If teaching becomes about power points and pointing then sure, I guess almost anyone could do that ! I'm sure there will be some like Murdoch offering their "expert" IT solutions too so they get a cut when it's all privatised.

Blissx well said, parents and indeed all working people need to wake up. 70 years to win our rights.......we are sleep walking towards a society where profit comes before health and education, before people even.

I got the impression that it was in very densely populated parts of London that there were insufficient primary places and that it is quite possible to put a preference down for 6 schools and still get sent to one not on your list and possibly in a different borough and with a very long journey. So if this school is undersubscribed then it will be filled on a "bums on seats" basis.

wild Mon 11-Mar-13 22:41:42

it's not about this school
it's about a national curriculum being imposed that not even its designers believe in

It is partly about this school as it appears that some unproven ideology will be the lead for the curriculum there. It may be a great ideology or it may be total woo, but in all honesty I would rather my child go to a mainstream school teaching the national curriculum rather than a 27 year old's pick of potential woo and this is what will be inflicted on those children who are unlucky enough to get a place.

The issue about the designers of the national curriculum not believing in it is also problematic.

wild Mon 11-Mar-13 23:16:46


SuburbanRhonda Wed 03-Apr-13 23:11:34

And did you see her on the BBC News tonight? Such a smug, sanctimonious piece of work. I'm sure she'll really gel with the children. Not.

tethersend Wed 03-Apr-13 23:17:00

Don't know about you, but I'm about to post my application for CEO of GlaxoSmithKline.

I should be in with a good chance, I once went behind the counter at the chemist to reach a lollipop.

muminlondon Thu 04-Apr-13 00:13:02

It's a bit of a mystery where she gained her teaching experience though, isn't it? And the BBC didn't mention that her school's lead sponsor is DfE board director and Tory donor. Or ask how primary children will cope with no outside space.

muminlondon Thu 04-Apr-13 08:55:49

Here's the BBC website report - more to it than the snippet I saw after the 10 o'clock news:

Still doesn't look like she has done more than a couple of hours on a Saturday, not the whole school day. Sorry, but is she related to Lord Nash? Family friend?

Feenie Thu 04-Apr-13 09:03:58

Tethersend grin grin

ipadquietly Thu 04-Apr-13 12:07:05

Moreover, mil John Nash is our Minister for Education!

And as for Ms Briggs. I can't find anything about her background/school on the internet, which is strange in itself. I wonder what the chances are of my ds becoming deputy director of the multi-million pound company that he works for on Saturdays?

SuburbanRhonda Fri 05-Apr-13 10:22:26

Just read that article - it says she is studying for her PGCE, but that will qualify her to be a classroom teacher. You need a NPQH to be a head teacher.

ofstedconfused Fri 05-Apr-13 10:50:11

You don't need NPQH anymore, and even if you did, academies would probably be exempt.

Why do we trust these people to run the education system? Staggering nepotism and gut wrenching arrogance all round.

ipadquietly Fri 05-Apr-13 12:17:36

Don't worry, the lovely Annaliese has now founded 'The Curriculum Centre' as phonics and maths lead:

.... and (in between her PGCE, book editing, head teacher and setting-up-a-new-school activities) Annaliese is now writing a new literacy scheme:

What a busy girl she is.

SuburbanRhonda Fri 05-Apr-13 14:51:13

Wow, ofsted I didn't know that. Have they replaced the NPQH with anything else? Or is it, as you say, that it's irrelevant anyway because Gove wants all schools to be academies so in theory you could have an entire profession populated by unqualified staff. What a frightening thought. And just how demoralising is that, that Gove is basically saying to teachers that there is nothing special about them and that anyone who walks throught the door could do their job? How dare he!

mrz Fri 05-Apr-13 14:54:35
SuburbanRhonda Fri 05-Apr-13 15:03:20

Blimey, ipad, whoever wrote the blurb on the "Word Up" page on the Curriculum Centre website needs to take a look at their command of English. Look at this sentence:

"Through these subjects we are able to give pupils a kind of universal language which makes so much that can be found in print gain meaning."


SuburbanRhonda Fri 05-Apr-13 15:07:16

mrz thanks for that link, depressing though it is.

My one consolation is that in three years time I won't have any children in the UK education system.

nlondondad Fri 05-Apr-13 15:57:46

If you are interested in this topic you should have a look at a recent posting (and comments thereto) on the Local Schools Network.

In fact some of the comments made here could well be cut and pasted across, if any of you had a mind to!

muminlondon Sat 06-Apr-13 00:15:46

It's not just Annaliese Briggs who has no education qualifications or experience yet is running the primary school. John Nash and his wife Caroline have donated 300,000 to the Tory party. He was given Pimlico Academy by Tory controlled Westminster council (interesting story here) - lots of opposition to that takeover from parents here after a series of 'informal and unminuted meetings involving the council leader, Sir Simon Milton' including £35 million to rebuild.

Then he got a peerage so he could run the DfE as board director and therefore policy for the whole country. But his wife Caroline also got to be chair of governors and though she has no experience whatsoever in education (she's a stockbroker/banker) is also advising Gove on the history content of the national curriculum:

Individuals 'involved in the discussion on history' include Caroline Nash 'set up' the Curriculum Centre; Daisy Christodoulou who is 'chief executive' of the Curriculum Centre; Jerry Collins - principal of Pimlico Academy and obviously appointed by John and Caroline; David Green, Director of Civitas and former boss of Annaliese. Meanwhile the qualifed historians have all since criticised the drafts.

ipadquietly Sat 06-Apr-13 01:00:31

So many of the 'experts' deciding on the curriculum have probably never experienced a state school (I assume - can't find proof - not for want of trying), are running multi-interest companies and, on the whole, have never taught history.

Good credentials then.

How do we demonstrate against this? Why do demonstrations have to be 'strikes' that take place in term time?

ipadquietly Sat 06-Apr-13 01:01:42

Also, scanning that list, mil, I don't see any advice being offered from north of Nottingham.

muminlondon Sat 06-Apr-13 09:51:14

I assumed the principal of Pimlico academy would end up babysitting Annaliese Briggs but he's leaving:

And the vice principal left in January. Who will actually be training/managing her?

yellowhousewithareddoor Sat 06-Apr-13 09:58:14

Its all a bit scary. I'm about to start my daughter at a lovely community school over the road. Will this completely change them?

muminlondon Sat 06-Apr-13 10:42:51

Do you mean near Pimlico or are you as scared as I am that this elite have wrenched the curriculum away from more qualified people?

It looks like turbulent times at Pimlico this year - they have also lost their heads of MFL and English:

yellowhousewithareddoor Sat 06-Apr-13 16:25:51

I'm not in London but concerned for state education in general. Its shocking that an elite bunch of friends who have never been near a state school or seemingly able to listen to teachers have this amount of power.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 06-Apr-13 21:17:45

As long as the school doesn't have a bad Ofsted, yellowhouse, I would imagine it could stay under Gove's radar for the time being. But all you need is some over-zealous governors and all that could change. I work in a community primary in a very deprived area. We've just had our first "good" from Ofsted, so we feel safe for at least a couple of years. But I honestly don't think Gove is going to stop until he turns all of England's schools into academies, one way or another.

muminlondon Sun 07-Apr-13 11:26:03

This is not just about takeover by academies - the DfE minister's wife Caroline Nash appears to have written the history curriculum for Pimlico Academy and appears also to have advised Michael Gove on applying that to the rest of us - meanwhile the rest of those consulted don't recognise the latest draft.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Sun 07-Apr-13 11:52:21

Breathe slowly - if all your other local schools are oversubscribed, and you don't get a place, you CAN be allocated a free school. And there's not a hot you can do about it if they have decided not to follow the NC. Apart from HE.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Sun 07-Apr-13 12:01:45

My DS's Primary wasn't safe from being changed to an Academy, despite an Ofsted rating of 'Good, with Outstanding elements'.

They chose to become the first Primary Academy in our town.

Admittedly, we know here that our LA will cease to exist and be wound up by September 2015, at which point they expect ALL schools to be Academies, so it is rather a done deal, but having a bad Ofsted rating isn't the only way schools become Academies.

The HT is doing it so that 'we can set our own curriculum'...


The school already has an abysmal record with DC's with SN's, which is, I'm sure, set to get worse.

Yet we are so short of primary places here (an entire school short...) that there IS nowhere else to send our DC's.

I'm frightened. My DS2 has SN's, and physical disabilities.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Sun 07-Apr-13 12:05:27

The HT is already practically untouchable, lies on RIDDOR forms, denies bullying, ignores SEN's, threatens you with banning you from the school grounds for 'threatening behaviour' if you politely, whilst seated, refuse to leave without seeing him (serious incident of bullying causing a bad injury school tried to cover up), or even if you just put in a written complaint...

They use very aggressive, underhand tactics themselves, and I can't see this improving when they give the HT MORE power as an Academy.

LoveSewingBee Sun 07-Apr-13 15:03:03

Reading through the various links it seems that quite a few bankers are involved in developing new curriculum and setting up Free schools.

I don't understand how one of those new free schools can go ahead with less than 40 pupils? I thought that there were minimum thresholds (need to prove demand given the public money involved?)

The various blogs are hilarious though. I wouldn't like my kids to be taught by those numpties.

Maybe in this new 21st Century world (courtesy of one of the blogs):
Let bankers run schools and teachers run banks. Come on, let them have a go now, please .... they are itching to do so.

Actual teaching can be done by people on workfare no doubt.

Whole new approach, fits with the 21st Century, you know grin

LoveSewingBee Sun 07-Apr-13 15:09:25

Jolie same for history hmm

Your link is hilarious though.


Currently, when a teacher starts with a new class in September, they can’t be sure of any knowledge that the pupils definitely know or don’t know. Any content they teach will risk being repetitive and boring for some pupils, or confusingly advanced for others. With The Future Curriculum, they can rely on pupils knowing the content from previous years in their subject. A Year 8 English teacher can remind the class of the concept of a metaphor by referring to a specific metaphor from Tennyson’s ‘Ulysses’, and be confident that all the class will know what she is talking about.*

Yeah, sure hmm

CountingClouds Sun 07-Apr-13 19:18:46

What a load of sanctimonious posts talking drivel. Our education system has been systematically degraded over the past generation in an attempt to make everyone equal. Unfortunately that equality involved dragging bright kids down to the bottom and telling everyone they were winners.

An end to competition ... everyone's wins (whoopee) or loses, who can tell the difference when PC dictates its inappropriate to challenge children because its unfair on the less able.

Only as soon as they leave school and go into the real world they have to face the reality that they aren't all winners. A lot are unable to face the prospect of hard work, using their brains, doing jobs they don't like, monotonous boredom and not having life handed to them on a plate.

State schools were untouchable, get a bad teacher, oh well just put up with them for that year and hope you don't get another next year. Get a bad head teacher and oh well your kids are stuffed for seven years. Along comes the freedom to stop all that and all you hear is moaning that someone some where is going to making a profit out of educating children better.

A lot of posters on Mumsnet seem to be trying to learn how to 'circumvent' the system to get their DC into a better school and avoid paying private school fees. Which I think makes it a big pile of hypocrisy when the same posters complain someone might make money out of improving a school. What difference does it make who gets the money if our children are getting a better education.

If you don't like a Free School don't send your child to it - simples.
If other parents don't like it either it wont get the support and will have to close.

Just like evolution the schools will get better.
If a teacher is bad they will get fired - simples.
If a teacher is good they will get paid more - simples.
Same goes for heads.

A million times better than the state ideology where bad teachers have a job for life and bad heads/bad schools are allowed to ruin kids lives for years.

If a teaching qualification makes teachers good teachers then Free Schools will be filled with them. If there are better teachers without the requisite bit of paper then I say give them a job. The cream will float to the top.

This gives more power to parents and I for one intend to use it. No longer will we have to put up with whatever dross the council doles out. And if I had to I would get off my fat arse and start my own Free School. So why don't you put your money where your mouth is, stop moaning and take matters into your own hands... or are you expecting life to be handed to you on a platter?

I embrace the new power we now have to force standards in schools up, the sooner the old state titanic submerges the better off our children's future will be.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Sun 07-Apr-13 19:21:05

Hahahahahahaha. Every Y8 child will understand a metaphor, using an example from Tennyson's Ulysses?!


My 15yo DD, with SN's, in Y10, wouldn't know a metaphor if it jumped up and bit her on the arse.

Trying to get her to learn to spell is hard enough...

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Sun 07-Apr-13 19:24:36

Now my 11yo Y6 DS1 could explain a metaphor, using an example from Tennyson's Ulysses, but he IS a very unusually bright 11yo.

There NEEDS to be differentiation within the curriculum - in Y6, my DD was working on p-scales, P5 in Maths. My DS1 is working on lvl 7 & lvl 8 Maths, in conjunction with a teacher that comes in from the Secondary school.

If you taught them both the same thing in Y6, with no differentiation, my DD wouldn't have had a damn clue what you were on about, whilst my DS1 would have been bored stupid!

LoveSewingBee Sun 07-Apr-13 19:30:39

Couthy to explain - this 'Future curriculum' stuff is written by people who have never taught, so that may explain a few things.

It is a disaster waiting to happen. I am blessed that my kids won't have to endure this latest fad of the Tories. Labour did damage but nothing on this scale ...

The big problem is that they let people lose on education who have neither any commitment to nor any understanding of education and can easily flutter to something else if it all goes wrong, leaving the poor kids to pay the price. It would take years to undo the damage they are about to do. sad sad sad

Arrogance beyond belief.

So, teachers come on, take over the banks and let the banks take over the schools hmm

LoveSewingBee Sun 07-Apr-13 19:35:01

The cream will float to the top hmm didn't work so well in banking did it?
Didn't work so well in the now deregulated energy market (high bills for customers, big profits for firms, lots of fraudulent behaviour by the companies year after year after thousands of reassurances from the regulator that they had really sorted it and that we would all benefit through better price/quality, yeah ....). Another myth.

CountingClouds Sun 07-Apr-13 20:10:15

An easy jibe to blame all the problems on bankers, they actually did what every person in this country wanted them to do for us. They made us money. Banks were just the catalyst that burst the bubble, exposing the greed of everyone living beyond their means.

So what use was/is bankers education? Likewise teachers?

Of course teachers aren't in it for the money, they are in it for the love of the children. That doesn't stop them blackmailing the country with strikes, demanding more money, hmm hypocrisy?

Another easy jibe to say the energy market is corrupt, rather than looking at the truth, as if there was some golden era when it was perfect. The truth is that fuel is more expensive, we are consuming more, and importing more. Yet when we try and build more nuclear stations, use shale gas etc, all you hear is the screams of the NIMBY's ... Its always easier to blame other people than look at ourselves.

The bubble has now burst in the education system. Years of pretending it was all getting better, yet now it turns out it was all a lie, they were just making exams easier, teaching to the test, telling schools what questions were going to be in the exams, inflating grades, a race to the bottom.

The bubble has burst on state schools and from now on we will get the education we deserve. If parents want a good education then its within their power to have it, if they sit on their hands and expect someone else to provide it for them then they will have to shut up and take what is given.

I for one will be making sure there is a great school in my area.

LoveSewingBee Sun 07-Apr-13 21:39:41

A merchant banker is one of the key people involved in the new curriculum. Several bankers are directly involved in setting up free schools.

I don't know of any teachers who have gone into banking, but they may as well, clearly, transferable skills involved in banking and teaching. hmm

beezmum Sun 07-Apr-13 22:41:46

There are so many misapprehensions and groundless assumptions in this thread it is hard to know where to start.
Just because you were an advisor for the new curriculum doesn't mean your ideas were implemented, clearly not in this case, so no hypocrisy. This said both curriculums are based on Hirsch's view that skills can only be developed if the contextual knowledge is in place. This is not a failed idea in America. Hirsch's ideas were implemented in Massachusetts which now tops the states educationally. In New York these ideas were trialled and the success of the New York schools that followed this curriculum led the Mayor to do a U turn on his previous support for a more skills based literacy program. It was plain bizarre or possibly just ignorant to the point of ridiculousness that the petition of 100 educationalists in the Independent named Massachusetts as the sort of Educational system Gove should be looking at to get his ideas.
Just because the Nash's are rich and Conservative doesn't mean they are bad news or in it for the money. They sponsor rather than profit from the academy- since when was the desire to give something back something to be scorned? Pimlico Academy was turned around very quickly from failing to outstanding due to their sponsorship. It is outrageous to describe the Curriculum Centre they pay for as either staffed by ignoramuses (sp?) or non teachers. Whatever your ideological viewpoint it would be grossly unjust to describe Daisy Christodoulou as anything but enormously motivated, well informed and actually an experienced teacher. Those who know her but disagree would be at least that just.
The reason I know what I do is just because I am interested in educational ideas as a secondary teacher and so have done lots of reading and. It is not because I know these people or would vote with some of them!
BTW I agree that someone in their twenties without teaching experience should not be a head. However, given the track record of the whole organisation and the success of this sort of curriculum elsewhere I would send my children.

beezmum Sun 07-Apr-13 22:58:49

BtW i don't actually like the idea of non teachers in charge of schools and I certainly don't like the idea of schools being run for profit. What I am saying is that in this case you are picking on some people who are committed and have proved themselves to be very successful. Go find a different target!

CountingClouds Sun 07-Apr-13 23:07:27

very well said beezmum.

The only point I disagree with is that just because a person is in there twenties doesn't mean they cant run a school. I know few heads over forty that should be sacked instantly instead of having another 20 years destroying children's educations.

How many heads actually teach in a school? Its a business, whether it makes a profit or not, and a good manager can make a difference no matter what their age. Experience would usually be a huge benefit but then it can also stop new ways of thinking. It ability that counts.

LoveSewingBee is obviously one of those people stuck in the past unable to see outside the envelope. If a wealthy banker wants to give back and sponsor a school then I applaud him.

muminlondon Sun 07-Apr-13 23:11:19

That's interesting - no one had criticised Daisy Christodoulou in this thread so there must be some reason why you defend her in particular. It's not clear from her biog on the Curriculum Centre whether she is still teaching but she does seem to have more experience than Annaliese Briggs, as a Teach First trainee. I wonder why she was not chosen as head of Pimlico Primary instead?

Normally a newly qualified teacher is supervised by the head, but in this case Annaliese is also the head, so she certainly will need support from the new leadership team when they are appointed.

specialknickers Sun 07-Apr-13 23:13:51

Free schools and academies are a sick joke perpetrated on the plebs by the ruling classes. Essentially, here's the wheeze: Anyone with enough cash can set up or "back" one of these schools. This means paying no tax (schools have charitable status) so nothing ventured, nothing gained... Most of these schools are in urban areas and therefore occupy valuable land. All you have to do is hire some numpties (no teaching experience or qualifications necessary) and then sit back watch the money flow in.

It as naff all to do with education.

CountingClouds Sun 07-Apr-13 23:37:11

specialknickers - its was 'working' class union reps that reinvented the word 'plebs' recently to execute a conspiracy to destroy a person who they didn't like. That's the sick joke and people like you perpetrate and it make me nauseous. Its a very good reason why Unions should be made illegal.

Fact: whether or not something is tax deductible doesn't make it free. It still has to be paid for. Free schools cannot be run for profit. The land which free schools are sited on cannot be sold to benefit the sponsors!

muminlondon Sun 07-Apr-13 23:48:37

'Its a very good reason why Unions should be made illegal.'

How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in't!

CountingClouds Mon 08-Apr-13 00:21:59

lol - indeed

ipadquietly Mon 08-Apr-13 00:32:52

Even if free schools aren't being run for profit Things may change, they are sucking millions of pounds from the education coffers in capital funding. Toby Young's West London Academy appears to have cost £15m, whilst Pimlico Academy seems to have cost a mere £35m.
This money is coming from the education budget, at the same time as money from central government for renovation and maintenance is being slashed.

beezmum Mon 08-Apr-13 08:05:07

Maybe I misread the previous posts. It appeared when I scanned the thread that Daisy Christodoulou personally and her Curriculum Centre were being criticised up thread for example saying she had no teaching experience.
Thanks for your response Clouds. I agree that some twenty year olds could do a better job than some 40 year olds but she will lack on the ground experience that means that however capable this individual is she risks coming very unstuck. I know the Curriculum Centre is responsible for much of the academic decision making but when I think of the heads of primary schools I have come across they need lots of experience of staff and parent management and in creating a positive ethos. I don't think a theoretical understanding will be enough.

CountingClouds Mon 08-Apr-13 09:23:48

ipadquietly - I think you just made those figures up about the cost of the schools. But even if it was those figures were correct its not any more than state schools cost in London.

And how is money going to schools sucking money out of the education budget, that exactly what that money is for, duh!

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 09:36:54

Well the money spent on free schools that have failed to open or lack parental interest (no pupils) would be a waste in my eyes CC

specialknickers Mon 08-Apr-13 09:59:25

clouds I'm typing my very first LOL at the idea that the word pleb has been invented by working class union reps. That's one of the most hilarious and muddle headed ideas I've ever encountered on mumsnet , and that's going some.

I was privileged enough to receive a private education in the 80's and I can tell you that the word pleb was routinely deployed to describe children at the comprehensive school then. (It's one of the many reasons I'm hoping that I will never have to send my children to private school, but that's a whole other thread). Luckily for you, Latin and Classical Studies featured heavily in our curriculum, so I can correct you and let you know it's a word that was used in Ancient Rome to denote citizens from the free classes (middle classes to you dear) and diffent irate them from the ruling patrician class.

muminlondon Mon 08-Apr-13 09:59:34

Caroline Nash is co-chair of governors of Pimlico Academy with her husband and chair of governors at the Pimlico Primary - she set up the Curriculum Centre and is ' responsible for the introduction and development of the history specialism'. She is not a qualified teacher but for a governor seems very involved in the fine detail. I assume she appointed both Daisy Christodolou and Annaliese Briggs. Whatever the merits of the curriculum, since it has been introduced the principal, senior vice principal and other heads of department have left. It is indeed a big risk to appoint an unqualified and inexperienced teacher to such a senior position.

The think tanks with links to the school have actively promoted for-profit schools and they are well connected. For example, the Curriculum Centre is advised by James O'Shaughnessy who was David Cameron's policy adviser, and part of the Policy Exchange, co-founded by Michael Gove. His recent publications have called for forcing schools to become academies run by for-profit companies. Annaliese Briggs gained all her experience of Ed Hirsch and Saturday schools at Civitas which admired the for-profit Swedish model back in 2009. It is clear that these ideas have been discussed by DfE Board Directors (i.e. John Nash).

specialknickers Mon 08-Apr-13 10:01:09

Different irate - differentiate. My iPad's making Freudian slips for me this morning...

specialknickers Mon 08-Apr-13 10:06:29

Is it just me, or does The Curriculum Centre have just a whiff of A4e about it? Not the same people of course, but the same unfounded ideas and the same potentially disastrous effect on the public purse?

I hope I'm wrong.

muminlondon Mon 08-Apr-13 10:28:51

'how is money going to [free] schools sucking money out of the education budget'

I was wondering about this. The funding of free schools was originally to come from a cut in the IT budget to schools.

The National Audit Office points out that:

- the 2010 Spending Review settlement reduced the DfE's overall capital spending in real-terms by 60%.
- the Free Schools Programme has been allocated capital funding of £1.7 billion to 2014-15
- there have been several changes to calculation of core funding: About half of primary and over 60% of secondary schools are likely to see real-terms decreases of 5% or more..

CountingClouds Mon 08-Apr-13 11:56:00

LOL specialknickers - I think your prejudices has caused you to get your knickers in a twist ;) I am fully aware of the meaning of the word 'plebs', and I did not say it was invented, I said it was reinvented by union reps (in an attempt to fuel class warfare). Perhaps your private school education wasn't all that?

muminlondon - The 60% decrease in DfE's capital spending budget has nothing to do with Free Schools, or do you know better? Whether the remaining budget that is being spent on academies, state or Free schools, it is still being spent on schools and that is what the budget is for.

So, money going to [free] schools is sucking money out of the education budget, is as ridiculous as saying state schools are sucking money out of the education budget!

I wonder how much money has been spent on Free schools that failed to open, from what I can read in the press we are talking about tens of thousands of pounds. How does that compare to the money saved by bypassing councils that cream 10-15% off the budget given to state schools. Millions, probably billions (over the years)?

ipadquietly Mon 08-Apr-13 12:08:25

clouds This is what I've found (apart from articles with the school-specific capital funding I found last night):

From the National Audit office report:
'The Free Schools Programme has been allocated capital funding of £1.7 billion to 2014-15.'
The recommendations are interesting.

And from the civil engineers' website who wer involved with the building of Pimlico Academy alone:

Let's repeat that figure from the NAO again...... £1.7 billion.shock

ipadquietly Mon 08-Apr-13 12:09:40

Sorry mil you found the NAO report too. Didn't read properly... blush

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 12:14:59
ipadquietly Mon 08-Apr-13 12:23:08

clouds That money is being spent on capital funding (buildings, IT resources, pot plants, sunny atria, etc). Funding for children in academies and free schools is the same as any state maintained school.

This money is being wasted on a few fabulous educational palaces, whilst other schools crumble.

Also, many Free schools are in converted buildings at the moment and are waiting for permanent premises. For example:

Oh, as I was browsing, just came across another building for £15m:Wimbledon Free School

ipadquietly Mon 08-Apr-13 12:25:37
muminlondon Mon 08-Apr-13 12:36:00

The 60% saving in capital budgets was primarily the result of axing the Building Schools for the Future programme. Some schools that did qualify for a rebuild have faced long waits while a few flagship free schools were fast-tracked. In terms of capital costs, several free schools are private schools which came with their own premises, so would have been cheaper. However, others are brand new and require refurbishment - e.g. Bristol Free School cost £8 million approx but was built in an area where there are 300 surplus places and, I believe, millions spent on PFI rebuilds in surrounding schools.

You could also take free schools in the wider context of converter academies, as free schools are essentially academies. There was a miscalculation and subsequent 1 billion overspend which has prompted the changes to core funding. Some areas such as Cheshire East have suffered 'devasting cuts' since then.

While some free schools may have lower capital costs they still receive an initial start-up grant and if those schools are undersubscribed they are initially being subsidised. They may have a detrimental effect on other schools, especially if they are exacerbating a surplus in rural areas of declining population. Two half-full schools would have higher overheads yet may be unable to offer a full range of subjects.

I have some sympathy for parent-led proposals but not if they affect neighbouring, successful schools. Ex-private schools may fill gaps cheaply if there are shortages but could be divisive if they are faith schools, especially because there already is an alternative and now easier VA route. Some of the new free schools have had 'Needs to improve' Ofsted reports while schools such as the Maharishi school in Lancashire have repeatedly been judged to have infringed advertising standards (that one did not even enter pupils for SATs). So such schools may cost more to monitor and regulate in other ways.

It's early days but I think the National Audit Office and Ofsted will give us more information as to the value for money and effectiveness of free schools and academies in general. There has been little transparency from the DfE.

ipadquietly Mon 08-Apr-13 12:43:59

I read that each pupil is attracting about £4000 - in line with maintained schools. If there are only 30 pupils in the school in the first year, the total budget will be around £120,000 (to cover all running costs: staff salaries, utilities, stationery, admin, etc). A budget as small as this would run into deficit very quickly.
How do they resolve this, or am I misunderstanding something?

specialknickers Mon 08-Apr-13 12:45:00

Reinvented it since the 80's clouds really? Do you really think that?

Never been accused of being prejudiced before, but having read some of your other posts I won't ask if you meant to be so rude. I will just assume that you did and take it as a huge compliment smile.

muminlondon Mon 08-Apr-13 12:47:54

According to the DfE there is also a fixed grant of £95,000 per primary or all-through school, but I'm looking rather quickly:

muminlondon Mon 08-Apr-13 12:52:14
beezmum Mon 08-Apr-13 13:12:44

Muminlondon you seem determined to present details as if they add up to a conspiracy theory. Of course all these people are interconnected although they won't all share exactly the same views they have a common agenda which is why they all want to work together. If you want to get change you don't do it by appointing people that don't share your vision. You would find the same pattern of connections in other areas of government of any colour and although it could be fairly criticised it is normal.
Caroline Nash obviously had a vision which is why she started a charity to sponsor free schools. However, although she is clearly very interested in the principles of the curriculum and says she wants to fund a Hirsch style one she did then spend her own money creating an organisation staffed by actual teaching professionals that are developing these curriculums.
On the subject of funding I don't really know anything except to say that it was my understanding that Pimlico was going to get new buildings whatever, it was a school in special measures that got some investment because its buildings were not fit for purpose.The appt of Future etc came after the building decisions from my memory.
I do not know whether there is actually any upset in the Pimlico Academy, does anyone else or are they just guessing? There are other probable reasons for this staff movement.
Personally I think there are arguments for and against free schools but this thread is frustrating because it conflates a genuine debate with a pile of ill informed tittle tattle.

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 13:32:21

Staffed by actual teaching professionals like Annaliese Briggs and Jo Saxton and Briony Shipman?

muminlondon Mon 08-Apr-13 14:12:03

beezmum John Nash is DfE Board Director so it's not just that he is interested in running schools for profit and forcing failed schools to become academies from which chains such as his would benefit. He's actually in control of policy and its implementation. He and his wife are also substantial Tory donors.

True, he was given the first academy and the £35 million rebuild under the Labour government. But the appointment to the DfE is recent and the select committee has questioned the conflict of interest here. I haven't got time to find all references but this comment made by a select committee member when interviewing the new Board suggests some of the concerns about priorities:

'When we went round [the DfE] we found the academies and free schools packed out; there were 10 people for every eight desks. You go to the safeguarding floor and the computers are not even on and there are a lot of empty desks. If there are tight resources-and we are also told by DG when we were there last week, that the rate of adoption of academy status had far exceeded the most optimistic expectation, so it is really sucking resource over at a time of constraint.'

His wife Caroline is chair of governors of Pimlico Academy, since 2012 Millbank Primary (a feeder school), and now Pimlico Primary (which creates an all-through academy). She is also listed as an individual involved in the discussion of the national curriculum which has been heavily criticised as unworkable by historians. It is up to Gove as to whether he takes on board the criticism but he appointed John Nash and consulted Caroline Nash so these are influential people.

muminlondon Mon 08-Apr-13 14:28:45

The staff turnover may be a coincidence - but the principal is leaving, the senior vice principal left at the beginning of the year, an assistant principal/head of humanities post is vacant, and they are currently recruiting for a head of English and of MFL, and deputy head of Geography.

You are right that this may just be normal when a head leaves in or a coincidence that it happens in the same month/term as the Curriculum Centre is established. I'm sure the existing staff are very professional and discreet. Going back to the start of the thread, someone will need to support Annalese Briggs as both an NQT and new head.

beezmum Mon 08-Apr-13 15:22:09

The curriculum is not a new at Pimlico even if the curriculum centre is. That number of staff is not really indicative of anything - not saying it is all sweetness just that you can't read anything into that turnover. As Pimlico is an inner city school that went from special measures to putstanding it is no surprise that the top people are moving on - they would be hot property.
I have to question the comment that the National Curriculum, has been has been declared unworkable 'by historians'. There was a rather distasteful barney between two groups of historians some represented by David Evans vehemently against and others led by Niall Ferguson strongly in favour. The Historical Association - a subject association is very against. Of course, so are the people at the Curriculum Centre, they might agree with some of the principles behind the proposed History curriculum and been consulted but it is not the model they favour.
It is right and proper that a select committee asks questions about possible conflicts of interests but the asking of questions is not proof and doesn't mean that there will be such conflicts but it is appropriate for this to be investigated. Of course Future is a charity so Nash is not personally in it for the profit.

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 15:27:53
mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 15:28:51
mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 15:29:30
mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 15:30:32
beezmum Mon 08-Apr-13 15:45:22

Yes Mrz it is a fair point I guess my point was that she did not 'write the curriculum'. I would prefer to see more on the ground experience. However, because I am very impressed with the Curriculum Centre and agree strongly with its goals, strangely enough it doesn't offend me so much. They certainly claim to be very much trialling what they develop reflectively. Given the endless untrialled tosh that is continually dumped on schools their approach is very professional, with a focus on what actually works in practice. It also has much more evidence of effectiveness in America than most of the novel ideas teachers end up having to implement.
The bottom line is that due to the sponsorship of the Nash pair, Pimlico and a the handful of other Future schools have a group of very dedicated and committed staff whose sole job is develop an effective curriculum and resources for these schools. That is actually pretty cool for Pimlico. Good luck to them and well done to the Nashes for actually caring enough about some of the terrible inner city schools to use their own money and manage to make such a difference. For all this quibbling many more kids at Pimlico Academy now attend a school where they have a chance of learning and getting some qualifications than previously. There are plenty of issues to debate but this context seems lost as if these people are some axis of evil instead of a group of sincere and dedicated people that want to make a difference to kids and spent their own money to make it happen at Pimlico.

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 15:53:49

My bottom line is that I don't believe people whose only qualification is that they once went to school should be shaping the curriculum

beezmum Mon 08-Apr-13 16:12:26

That is not their only qualification, some of them are genuinely very well informed about curriculum development as that is their job. It is not just teachers that should be consulted on curriculum change (although that is crucial). The area of curriculum development and comparative study of different national curriculums is led by academics, not teachers and subject expertise is also crucial. You are criticising the Curriculum Centre as if it is responsible for the current proposals and in charge of national curriculum development. Sure it is influential but clearly wasn't influential enough to get the curriculum it would endorse drafted. Given that Gove wants a curriculum that is built on the assumption that skills need knowledge (there is no generic 'applying skill') it is quite right that he should consult those that have been successfully implementing such a curriculum successfully in a challenging inner city school. It would be odd not to consult them.
I don't know if you have time to say MRZ but in a nutshell what are your biggest problems with the proposed primary curriculum? I only ask because it strikes me that it wouldn't mean you changing your practice very much (as per my impression of it from Mumsnet) at KS1?

LoveSewingBee Mon 08-Apr-13 16:12:33

There is lots to object.

I thought Britain aimed to be a meritocracy ....

These are a handful of rich individuals with the right connections in Government who have decided that they want to change education for all and impose it on all.

They no nothing about education - just read the tosh on the Curriculum Centre's website.

It is an utter disgrace, that as long as you have money and the right friends you are allowed to experiment with the future of the majority of the nation's children.

Shame, shame, shame on you Gove, Cameron, Nash and their little friends.

LoveSewingBee Mon 08-Apr-13 16:13:04

typo - know nothing

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 16:30:39

Firstly the initial review was rushed and the views of "experts" were ignored. The linear nature of the curriculum was seen as a major flaw.
It is overstuffed making it effectively unworkable. It seems as if a committee got together and couldn't agree what should be included so they decided to include everything and then looked around to see if they left anything out. It's difficult to fit everything into the school day now it will be worse if the draft becomes statutory. Will some subjects become sidelined
It shows little or no understanding of child development or how young children learn.

CountingClouds Mon 08-Apr-13 16:47:51

muminlondon, you are starting to sound like you are just trying to justify your own opinion. Where is the big picture? Quite simply there isn't enough money for every school in the country to be rebuilt. We also need more school places and our education system needs improved. So its a matter of how you distribute it to get the best results all around, there will always be 'winners and losers'. When labour were in power they threw money (and debt) at schools and yet there are still 'crumbling' schools, there is no magic solution.

Now I suppose you could force children into the failing under-subscribed PFI debt ridden schools that Brown created or you could try something a bit more courageous. Like allowing parents and others to create better schools. State schools built under Labour typically cost £21m-£50m so even when you add in 'extra' start up costs the Free schools are still better value for money.

Now I understand many don't like Free Schools but that doesn't prove anything other than money is being spent on schools differently than before.

Examples like that head in Bristol are classic. Parents don't want to send their kids to her school, they all seemed to go out of county rather than her school. I am not surprised she objected to a successful Free school opening up, and becoming oversubscribed. Why is that and what happened to the threat of a judicial review? Parents won't be forced to send their children to failing schools. The solution is to create inclusive schools than parents want to go to, and then you wouldn't have spare places. Money saved.

Does anyone actually have real evidence of anything untoward? Unless you compare money spent on free schools against money (& debt) spent on state schools in the past you have prove nothing other than your own opinion.

CountingClouds Mon 08-Apr-13 16:51:31

You dont need money to shape children future, all you need is support from other parents and you can set up you own school. Gove is dragging our education system into the 21st century.

Feenie Mon 08-Apr-13 16:55:20

Now I suppose you could force children into the failing under-subscribed PFI debt ridden schools that Brown created

Where are they, then? My own school is PFI, not at all debt-ridden, certainly not failing, and very much over-subscribed.

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 16:59:05

Gove is dragging our education system into the 19th Century

ipadquietly Mon 08-Apr-13 17:09:27

In all the articles I've read over the last few weeks about the 'continuous' curriculum, no-one has ever mentioned what happens to children with SEN.

muminlondon Mon 08-Apr-13 17:48:18

'Where is the big picture?'

Good question - I have no vested interest apart from a child at school but what I do see is:

1. A real mxture of motives for opening up free schools but parent-led ones seem to be in the minority. I've seen some advertised as if they were already approved by profit-making companies looking for parents to express interest. The British Humanist Association estimates the majority of applications are from faith designated or 'faith ethos' schools - this suggests organisations not parents are behind schools, yet an additional VA route for churches also exists. At the same time Faith schools do lead to more segregation in society yet the OECD says that the most successful education systems are the least divided.

2. Many other free schools are run by private school chains such as CfBT, Harris and ARK. As Harris is picking up all the forced primary academies this blurs the distinction between sponsored academies and free schools. But the Academies Commission has pointed out the lack of proper tendering in the sponsored academy process, the 'beauty parade'.

3. We are in a recession and resources are tight. This is a minority Conservative government. It is my legitimate and democratic right to expect politicians to be accountable and transparent but the DfE has been under 'special monitoring' by the Information Commssioner and has refused to publish impact assessments on the effect on neighbouring schools.

'We also need more school places'

The NAO report suggests that out of 256,000 needed school places, free schools could only supply up to 10% of them. They cannot be directed to expand or take on bulge classes so LAs cannot rely on them but the law makes them the only route for new schools (aside from VA schools). As they are meant to be providing choice they cannot also meet shortages - I personally would not want to send my child to a faith school, or one without outside space or qualified teachers.

'our education system needs improved'

There are effective ways of doing that - the London Challenge transformed London from the worst performing area to the one with the best performing schools between 2003-2010. The evidence shows that LA maintained schools performed even better than academies. It was also a cheaper programme.

'Does anyone actually have real evidence of anything untoward?'

It's early days. There is increasingly evidence that (a) many free schools are undersubscribed, (b) some are not complying with statutory regulations regarding admissions policies or entering pupils for exams, (c) some have published misleading claims in advertising. I'd look up the Maharishi school on all counts.

There are popular flagship free schools that may indeed be successful. But there are popular and oversubscribed community schools too - yet no more of these can be set up until the law is changed. Ths is the biggest flaw in the policy.

beezmum Mon 08-Apr-13 17:52:40

Lovesewingbee. The children of our country have been experimented on rather continually for quite some time. Initiatives are continually rolled out with little or no evidence to back them and most are supported or proposed by teachers.
I think I do agree that it seems wrong that those that have the money can take over a school but I would be more offended if just as much experimentation wasn't going on in mainstream education and in this case it is relevant that these people have done a really good job at Pimlico.
However, what is tosh is your suggestion that the Curriculum Centre don't know anything about education. That is total tosh. Just because you don't agree with their conclusions doesn't mean they are ill informed. Anyway it is not them, it is elected politicians who are 'experimenting' with the education of our children. The people at the Curriculum Centre have been developing a curriculum for a handful of schools and our elected politicians who have the legitimate right to propose policy, like their ideas and so are talking to them (and then appointing one of them...) none of this is shocking - you just don't agree with what they are doing. That is different.
Thanks MRZ, will it mean many changes for you personally?

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 17:55:59

yes beezmum it will mean changes for me and every teacher in state maintained schools

ipadquietly Mon 08-Apr-13 18:05:01

The thing that strikes me about the Curriculum Centre is that people who have had little experience in a classroom (e.g. Annaliese Briggs, Daisy what's-her-face, et al), are now labelling themselves as 'experts' in phonics, maths, literacy, etc.

How can you be an 'expert' in phonics (so expert that you will be sharing your 'good practice' with other teachers) if you've only taught in a Saturday school and done a course for a fast track headship? How will you be able to say with conviction, that your ideas will work in a classroom? Their 'experience' must have come from what they've read rather than what they've done..

Whether you agree with them or not, at least educators like Ros Wilson and Ruth Miskin have worked for many, many years at the chalk face, and have devised literacy and maths schemes based on those years of experience.

muminlondon Mon 08-Apr-13 18:07:10

'The children of our country have been experimented on rather continually for quite some time'

Yes, I agree. It's interesting that free school proposals are particularly popular where the alternative is an underperforming sponsored academy in a chain or a faith school with restrictive admissions. No reason to make faith schools and free schools (which end up as sponsored academies) the only route for parents though.

But that's enough about structures.

beezmum Mon 08-Apr-13 18:14:58

I'm not a primary teacher so defer to those on the ground(!) but agree that the new curriculum is in some ways overstuffed - especially in history where that is an under statement. The problem comes from the fact that education has been moving in one direction ideologically for so long that the education establishment has many presumptions about what education should be like that it holds as truths but could be legitimately questioned. This is from looking at research and also from looking at more successful education systems. Gove is asking those questions and of course he will neither get support from the establishment nor would consultation be especially constructive given that he is working from different first principles. I think he doesn't see much point taking the establishment with him (i disagree) but the way he is portayed as the devil incarnate is just tedious and small minded. When I see teachers actually countering the arguments in favour of what he is doing rather that putting forward a series of knee jerk reactions with no knowledge of the rationale behind change, then I am interested in the debate. There is a lot of good reason for having a curriculum based on the principles Gove is in favour of. That doesn't mean the proposed curriculum is that good. That is why I like what the Curriculum Centre is trying to do as they really want to keep fining till they get something that really works.
Gove seems to manage change by putting forward a set of highly controversial proposals and then not care that it looks like a climb down when he adjusts these as he gets most of what he wants anyway. This was the case with EBAC/EBC where he walked away with virtually everything he wanted. I think the history curriculum is another example of this. I'd bet a lot that he had the next set of proposals already done in outline and will get away with them when proposed because they will seem like a climb down - just as with EBC. I don't like the contempt this shows for those that have to take the initiql proposals seriously but it may work again...

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 18:21:34

Gove has made u turns on almost every major announcement will the proposed curriculum be yet another

beezmum Mon 08-Apr-13 19:04:02

Mrz - i'm not dim (not very anyway) it just struck me that there would not be real fundamental change for some teachers at KS1, depending on their current approach but I wasn't presuming which was why I asked.

beezmum Mon 08-Apr-13 19:06:26

I think so - but that is how he likes to operate. The point is they aren't often real U turns.

beezmum Mon 08-Apr-13 20:14:45

Regarding the experience of the Curriculum Centre employees. I think the idea is that they have curriculum theory expertise and work with the teachers on the ground. There are very few teachers around that have real expertise in curriculum development and even fewer that are know much about Hirsch and the progress made in cognitive psychology explaining the interplay between skills and knowledge.

StoickTheVast Mon 08-Apr-13 21:51:42

I have forgotten more about fucking education than this lot will ever know.

I have been teaching for nearly 20 years and I'm not an expert. How the bloody hell can they be?

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 08:19:08

From reading their literature there is no reason to think they do think they are experts in the sense that you mean. They have expertise in curriculum development because they know much more about it than most. They will only be successful if they work with teachers.
Despite my support for the Curriculum Centre I think I agree with the general disgust that a 27 year old with so little experience has been made a head. I think the idea is that her role is not so much about day to day management and more about being a public face for Pimlico's new curriculum but in such a small school she will have to do day on day stuff and however capable, she will make too many mistakes. Her appt actually goes right against what the Curriculum Centre do believe - that skills come from knowledge and proficiency comes from practice to mastery.

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 08:39:29

Exactly how do you gain expertise in curriculum development?
It's a totally meaningless label ... theory is important but without knowledge of how it will work in practice that is all it is a theoretical document produced by committee.

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 08:40:42

The fact is they are going to need to employ someone to tell her how to run a school while she learns - good use of money?

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 11:14:13

I agree that it is not a good use of money, unless her funding comes from Future because her role is not that usual to a head - but that seems unlikely.
There is much work done on curriculum development by academics and much research in the field of cognitive psychology that could be made applicable to school curriculums and it is a rare teacher that has that expertise. The role of the Curriculum Centre is pretty much specifically to develop curriculums informed by knowledge of these fields. I think it is great that a group of people want to look at what is known through research and work with teachers who have the knowledge to apply those principles. Nothing will ever happen with the academic research on education unless those with that expertise work with teachers. The whole point of the centre is to try and bridge the gap.
If I get the impression that the Curriculum Centre is bulldozing through their ideas rather than working with teachers on development then I am not interested. However, that does not appear to be the case at all. They seem to be admirable in their appreciation that a curriculum has to be developed. I particularly admire Daisy Christodoulou in this respect. The anti Gove mania not only means all his works are automatically evil but anyone that he consults or professes any support for any aspect of his policies must be devil's spawn.

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 11:27:32

Unfortunately theory in curriculum doesn't always translate into practice because real children don't always respond/ behave how psychologists and academics believe they will/should.

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 11:30:26

beezmum they have completely ignored the recommendations from the government's own advisors who resigned because of the direction the curriculum was taking against all evidence.

ipadquietly Tue 09-Apr-13 12:07:49

Here is a link to the website of the cognitive psychologist, Daniel Willillingham, cited in the 'core beliefs ' of the Curriculum Centre.

Daniel Willingham learning styles

I can't find any empirical research to back his ideas.

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 13:13:09

MRZ - exactly. It is because theory does not always translate to practice that one should use theory collaboratively with teachers to teat ideas and see what works.
Ipad you need to look a bit harder. Dan Willingham only does the sort of research one would call empirical. It is learning styles that have no empirical research behind them.

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 13:16:46

Test ideas...
Really really ipad you couldn't be more wrong. Look at Willingham's blog for starters and if I get a chance I'll find some links.

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 13:29:20

they aren't interested in what experienced teachers can add to the curriculum

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 13:46:58

'Against all evidence'... Not really. The battle is ideological - evidence is not lacking for the Curriculum Centre's approach - just look at Massachussetts...

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 13:51:49

Mrz where on earth do you get the assertion from that Curriculum Centre is not interested in what experienced teachers can add to the curriculum? Are you once more confusing things and assuming they are Gove and he is them?

camicaze Tue 09-Apr-13 14:07:34

Re Willingham and learning styles just type learning styles/evidence into Google. The literature is so vast it is hard to know where to start but try this one:

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 14:09:24

beezmum they make a statement on their site "With combined experience of teaching, academia, school leadership, training, research, policy development and publishing, our team spans the educational world." and then you read the sum total of that teaching experience is a Daisy Christodoulou who completed a Teach First programme hmm and Annaliese Briggs who "taught" at the Sun's Saturday school project hmm both young ladies are obviously very intelligent and committed.

LoveSewingBee Tue 09-Apr-13 14:15:55

Beezmum are you working for the Curriculum Centre by any chance?

LoveSewingBee Tue 09-Apr-13 14:20:35

I think what the education system needs are good and committed teachers who are allowed to do their jobs and get a reasonable wage given their working hours.

At the moment, lots of teachers are either leaving or want to leave. They work long hours for relatively low pay, have little status (politically, socially), are often unsupported by the parents in their dealings with the kids, etc. etc. Not a good place to be.

Clearly, there will also be teachers who don't care, who are not good at their job, sure. There are quite a few GPs who don't care, who are not good at their job. However, GPs have a lot of status and a stonking salary, teachers have neither.

What is going on now seems another stab in the back of the teaching profession.

I find it an utter disgrace and really, you are fooling yourself, if you think that this is going to help children. sad

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 14:23:59

Lovebee - a few posts up I said I agreed with those that felt 'disgusted' by the appointment of Miss Brigg...
This is a good article regards Massachussetts - views are the writer's, not mine - or Hirsch's!

MRZ your comment on the lack of experience of those at the curriculum centre totally ignores the point I made about what the purpose of it is. How many teachers do you know who are experts on what happened in Massachusetts, or understand the latest developments in cognitive psychology or have reviewed all the research on the factors at play in the performance of successful education jurisdictions? This is not a small field I know because I have dipped into it.
If you want to argue that we don't need to look at research you can carry on believing in learning styles and all the other clap trap teachers fall prey to because their job is to teach, not be research scientists.

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 14:34:59

beezmum do you think teachers don't keep up to date with current educational research around the world, do you think we exist in a vacuum, do you think that we aren't involved in research, professional and personal development or that many teachers study for additional qualifications in our own time? If that is what you genuinely believe there is no wonder you are seduced by the claims of the Curriculum Centre

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 14:36:26

Part of my job remit is to keep up to date with current research and ideas.

ipadquietly Tue 09-Apr-13 14:37:09

Exactly, Willingham's blogs, etc, seem to learning styles - the lack of coherent research, and lack of evidence to support the models.

Quite honestly, I can't quite put his ideas into words. Isn't it something like - the child with more knowledge will learn better? (Perhaps those children with more interactive parents? Those who can retain information?)

In a maths lesson, a teacher imparts knowledge, following from one stage to another (in much the same way as being suggested at the curriculum centre). Some children pick it up straight away: some don't and need to go over the same concept time and time again. All of them have been given the same 'knowledge base'.
I'm not sure how this ties in with the knowledge base curriculum, as I have seen nothing about how to deal with differentiation and the children who are, inevitably, left behind.

I'm very confused

ipadquietly Tue 09-Apr-13 14:48:47

I did a psychology degree way back in the wild blue yonder. The number of theories and practices that have changed since then due to another psychologist bringing out the 'correct' model, is immeasurable! Willingham is yet another person jumping on the educational theory bandwagon.

Teachers work with children. I daresay most of us bring in different learning styles to our practice daily, but we don't make it a religion! Most of our teaching these days is based on the learning the child has done previously through assessment for learning. I would say that is building on the knowledge (and skills) already learnt.

I have a sneaking feeling that the model followed by the CC is one specific to the USA, which has no national curriculum and an incredibly diverse population scattered over a huge geographical area, with a vast range of social and economic differences. The USA needs coherence in its education system, and this is offered by the Hirsch model.

All this is much different to the UK. We already have a national curriculum, and, through assessment for learning, we do build on knowledge.

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 14:52:07

Ipad the ideas are new to you but they are not 'Willingham's ideas.' They are as near to a consensus as there can be in science on how knowledge and skills are related. This is exactly what I mean. One field cognitive psychology knows perfectly well ,not just that the idea of learning styles is clap trap but also how knowledge and skills are interrelated. Yet, the teaching profession knows nothing about it- that is exactly why the Curriculum Centre exists.

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 14:57:59

There isn't a consensus beezmum. The previous government carried out it's own curriculum review, Robin Alexander carried out an independent curriculum review and the current government carried out yet another (extremely hurried) review and guess what they all have different ideas of what the curriculum should look like.

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 14:59:17

Ipad, Willingham does this ' For Dummies' style youtube clip on the role of knowledge as it relates specifically to comprehension. It is at least a nice clear starting point. I can't seem to make my ipad work but it is really easy to find if you google Willingham/comprehension/ youtube.
Willingham's latest book is written for teachers as a guide as to how they should approach educational research. I almost choked that he was being accused of not using research given the reasons he is well known.

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 15:01:59
ipadquietly Tue 09-Apr-13 15:37:07

Teachers in the UK don't concentrate their teaching on individual learning styles. They teach using assessment for learning, which (surely?) means basing your next step on the child's existing knowledge. I think it goes without saying that you learn about something more easily if you already know about it!

Looking at it, I think we're already following this model of teaching in the UK in maths, english and science (perhaps we're ahead of the USA?) Maybe I'm misunderstanding again?

I do not, however, understand how the idea of a 'continuous' knowledge based curriculum in the humanities will work in a class with very different abilities.

CountingClouds Tue 09-Apr-13 16:05:48

This is exactly the sort of argument that Free Schools will solve. After a while it will become obvious which teaching and learning methods produce the best results. And parents will flock to those schools causing them to expand, and the failing ones to close. Its a common sense approach.

If the new Free Schools are going to be so c**p then in a few years they will all have failed. Imho state schools (and teachers) are running scared that Free Schools will produce better outcomes, forcing those state schools to work harder. It began with Blair and hopefully Gove will complete the revolution our children deserve.

ParsingFancy Tue 09-Apr-13 16:16:49

"It's a common sense approach"

Yes. If your product is washing powder or an evening class in basket-weaving. Not a big deal if it's not very good. Quick turnaround for customer to realise failure and buy a new product.

Completely unsuitable if your product is school age education.

Children will never get back those developmental stages. It may take years for failure to be fully obvious. If propped up by political will, failing school may persist for years and children be mandated to attend.

Though less acute than in healthcare, the "let them fail" model just isn't good enough for 5-18 year old education. Those are real human beings whose lives will be permanently affected by someone else's failure.

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 16:17:57
mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 16:32:02
I've copied the link from another thread because of it's relevance

MaybeBentley Tue 09-Apr-13 16:44:43

Just a quick few questions;
If the new curriculum goes ahead and I assume teachers are all trained in its delivery - how much will it cost?
And what if three years or so down the line it all goes wrong and standards don't go up (or even worse go down) who will take the blame? The government ? The group who devised the curriculum? Or the teachers? I've a pretty good idea already, but what do others think?

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 16:49:11

MRZ, yes I most certainly do think teachers don't keep up to date with research, how could they possibly manage that as well as their day job? Just look at the fact most don't know learning styles theories in education are rubbish. I do think you keep more up to date than most but you are hardly representative.
I referred to a consensus in cognitive psychology on the role of knowledge with skills, not a consensus over curriculum design!

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 16:53:10

Yes teachers are trained in it's delivery.
Cost - difficult to measure but schools certainly won't be resources for the full history content or equipped for the cookery element of DT etc

If it doesn't work it will be the teachers fault

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 16:55:31

Sorry beezmum but you are mistaken. I did a part time MA in Education after school (while working full time) and I'm far from unusual.

CountingClouds Tue 09-Apr-13 16:56:07

It doesn't really help an honest debate if you use left wing (anti-Free School) bias newspapers as a source of facts, because they spin the facts into anything they want them to say.

But that aside, those articles quote a study which was specific to Sweden and is of “limited” use when predicting the impact of similar reforms in England. Sweden uses profit making Free Schools, England does not. Swedish Free Schools have a grade inflation problem, so did English schools, Gove is resolving that.

"The evidence on the impact of the reforms suggests that, so far, Swedish pupils do not appear to be harmed by the competition from private schools"

"evidence showed a “moderately positive” impact of free schools on academic performance"

"A second study found that in a given municipality, the higher the proportion of free schools, the more standards rise all round. The evidence not only from Swedish free schools but from American charter schools shows that such schools help to close the gap between the poorest and the wealthiest children.”

"...research, at Harvard, Stanford and MIT, has shown that allowing properly regulated new schools can bring dramatic improvements in school standards, especially for schools for poorer children in poor areas."

mrz - those newspapers are quoting studies that show the benefits of Free Schools.

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 16:56:15

Ipad very many teachers are actively encouraged to take account of learning styles in their teaching. I certainly was in my training and it is a normal thing to encounter - as well as AFL...
Regards knowledge based curriculums we certainly do not have such a curriculum in the UK. The last secondary curriculum produced by under Labour was designed with assumptions about promoting skills that are flatly contradicted by the findings in cognitive psychology. Yes, I know theories change but given that the last curriculum was based on theories that have been comprehensively debunked it is probably best practice to look into a re- design...

CountingClouds Tue 09-Apr-13 17:05:21

As for the long term harm done to children if these schools fail. Well we have that now, with a whole generation of children leaving a failed education system with grades that are meaningless in the real world, at best, or illiterate and innumerate at worst.

Free schools will give the power back to parents to figure out what is best for their children. And from my experience parents can figure that out pretty quick. I haven't heard about swathes of children being forced to go to any Free School, so the 'experiment' is only for the willing, the rest can stick with a bog standard comp.

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 17:07:46

Learning styles have been discredited beezmum

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 17:17:34

So you see statements such as

The study said any advantages gained by pupils attending free schools in Sweden failed to translate into “greater educational success” beyond the age of 16.

"This is a school for criminals," he declared, to laughter. "Nobody's working in this school, because no one here has any future." His remark is clearly intended as a joke, but it suggests how marginalised he feels.
as supporting?

ipadquietly Tue 09-Apr-13 17:19:26

beezmum I don't understand how maths, for instance can be taught, without teaching the knowledge base, together with the skills to do the arithmetic.
Can you explain please?

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 17:22:31
CountingClouds Tue 09-Apr-13 17:28:12

I was pointing out that the report could be spun either way. The report is about Swedish Free Schools which operate under different rules and cannot be used to determine the outcomes of English free Schools.

Like I said the proof of the schools will be in their successes and imho state teachers are running scared.

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 17:38:15

If you mean teachers are afraid that this curriculum will harm children you could be right

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 17:48:30

MRZ er yes - that is exactly what I have been saying ree learning styles. Its humbling to realise how little attention is paid to what I say!

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 17:49:28

Ipad there is a long and proper answer to that question but my husband is already cross as he is dishing up tea! i will get back to you...

CountingClouds Tue 09-Apr-13 17:53:08

No I think that teachers are afraid some schools will do better that the current system forcing them to work harder.

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 17:57:36

on the plus side they should all do well in pub quizes

CountingClouds Tue 09-Apr-13 17:58:18


mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 17:58:40

Why do you imagine teachers will need to work harder CC?

Children yes because there are all the facts to learn ...

MaybeBentley Tue 09-Apr-13 18:02:24

"I think that teachers are afraid some schools will do better that the current system forcing them to work harder"

My understanding of this statement is that you don't think teachers (sweep generalisation here) are working hard enough now. In what way? What do you think they are slacking on in the current curriculum?

Seems very strange that this person should advise on National Curriculum and then be made a head at 27 with no teaching experience or qualifications confused

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 19:05:14

Mrz an MA only scratches the surface of educational research, the vast majority of teachers don't even do that. I spend most of my leisure time, saddo that I am, reading about educational research and issues and yet I have only managed to dip into the research on curriculum reform and yet among my friends (virtually all teachers...) and colleagues I am unusual for the amount I know. I argued that teachers rarely have expertise on curriculum reform and the fact some teachers have an MA in something related to education, or even curriclum reform, is good for them but hardly counters my point.

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 19:10:10

I know beezmum but it's expensive to study

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 19:16:37

Ipad, first it is important to be clear that both sides in this debate know that skills AND knowledge are important. Hirsch et al and 'twenty first century skills/ just google it' zealots both know children need both but they strongly disagree about how much emphasis should be placed on either and why.
In maths the fault line is really that of the 'maths wars'. So on the one hand you have maths education academics like Jo Boaler arguing that curriculums should emphasise practical applications and that a firm knowledge of stuff such as number bonds, times tables is unnecessary/ harmful. So she would not support resources such as 'Big Maths' that presume that a key to success in maths is fluency of knowledge.
On the other hand you have those that argue successful understanding in maths does not flow from tasks aimed at building conceptual understanding and instead maths requires fluency gained from lots of practice.
It is easy to argue that the truth is somewhere in between but that brings me back to my original point, where in between? i don't claim to have explained that well. I am interested but not a maths teacher!
I will post a few links.

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 19:20:49

Here is an article that is quite clear about Boalers position - I dont disagree with everything in it but made me choke...

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 19:29:03

This blog is useful, but particularly the comment below the post by Kristopher Bolton that does a nice job of a counter argument to Boaler.

I can probably find better if I have a think.
This blog has a nice very quick summary of one of Willingham's books too.

ipadquietly Tue 09-Apr-13 19:36:33

So it would seem that we are already running this 'knowledge' based curriculum in the UK in Maths and English?

However, I do think a 'knowledge' based history curriculum is a little different, as it is relying on very young children having a sense of chronology. How many teachers have blushed when a child has asked if an ageing visitor was around with the dinosaurs? Small children have absolutely no idea of when things happened - they are egocentric, and many of them can't count in big enough numbers!

This is why it makes sense to teach a unit 'about the Romans', during which the children gain a lot of knowledge about the Roman civilisation, without the teaching necessarily being in chronological order. I'd say from about Y5 onwards, chronological teaching makes a little more sense.

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 19:43:49

It's interesting if you study history at degree level you aim for a lot of knowledge about a relatively short period of time but for young children we want them to know a little tiny bit about every period of time.

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 20:34:55

We are most certainly NOT currently running a knowledge based curriculum in Maths and English. Sorry, I don't know where to start to explain. To begin with it is Boaler that is part of the maths educational establishment, she is highly influential. Different schools interpret the curriculum differently, so my dd's primary that didn't believe times tables needed to be learnt by heart is not at all unusual. The new curriculum is explicitly knowledge based because it explicitly states that things like times tables do need to be learnt by heart. If you compare the old and new curriculums you can see that one emphasises skills students should attain and the other emphasises things they need to know, with fluency.
That sounds so good in theory but the argument of Hirsch and the findings of cognitive science are that you need to know to understand, so the knowledge should come first.
In Secondary English there is a widespread presumption that teachers should teach relevant texts as what is important is that children gain analytical skills and this can be done through accessible, 'relevant' texts. However, whatever analytical skills children have don't help when faced with more complex texts that students don't have the knowledge to understand (see back to the Willingham you tube). So the new curriculum makes it clear that more complex texts must be studied. I am very familiar with this issue as a history teacher. The old curriculum had a basic assumption behind it that you can teach children generic skills which they would then be able to apply this is why it is quite definitely NOT a knowledge based curriculum.

I pretty much agree re your comments on the history curriculum ipad although I think kids can cope before yr 5 with chronology.

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 20:41:08

We already teach number bonds and times tables up to 12X by heart as do most schools.
We teach grammar from reception and study classic books in depth

beezmum I think you are confusing the National Literacy/Numeracy Framework with the actual curriculum

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 20:46:27

The thing is our current curriculum is underpinned by assumptions about skills- that they can be taught in isolation and are very transferable. This blog post gives quite a clear idea of why those in favour of a knowledge based curriculum criticise the premises of the current one:

Ipad you seem to have decided that if there is anything behind the Willingham stuff then you will retreat to a new defensive position, that the current curriculum agrees with the position of cognitive psychologists anyway. However, the old curriculum quite explicitly disagrees with the research. Needless to say it is not very similar to the successful Massachusetts one either.

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 20:53:40

Not confusing anything. MRZ you seem to have a tendency to argue that what you do is what is generally done. The devil is in the detail. You are wrong if you argue the majority of state primaries ensure all children really DO know their tables. As much as it would revolt you to believe it, your practice (as per my impression of it from forums) is very much in line with the principles pf a knowledge based curriculum - Gove would love you....

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 20:57:03

Numbers and the number system

2. Pupils should be taught to:

a. count reliably up to 20 objects at first and recognise that if the objects are rearranged the number stays the same; be familiar with the numbers 11 to 20; gradually extend counting to 100 and beyond
Number patterns and sequences

b. create and describe number patterns; explore and record patterns related to addition and subtraction, and then patterns of multiples of 2, 5 and 10 explaining the patterns and using them to make predictions; recognise sequences, including odd and even numbers to 30 then beyond; recognise the relationship between halving and doubling
The number system

c. read and write numbers to 20 at first and then to 100 or beyond; understand and use the vocabulary of comparing and ordering these numbers; recognise that the position of a digit gives its value and know what each digit represents, including zero as a place-holder; order a set of one and two-digit numbers and position them on a number line and hundred-square; round any two-digit number to the nearest 10.

3. Pupils should be taught to:
Number operations and the relationships between them

a. understand addition and use related vocabulary; recognise that addition can be done in any order; understand subtraction as both 'take away' and 'difference' and use the related vocabulary; recognise that subtraction is the inverse of addition; give the subtraction corresponding to an addition and vice versa; use the symbol '=' to represent equality; solve simple missing number problems [for example, 6 = 2 + ? ]
b. understand multiplication as repeated addition; understand that halving is the inverse of doubling and find one half and one quarter of shapes and small numbers of objects; begin to understand division as grouping (repeated subtraction); use vocabulary associated with multiplication and division
Mental methods

c. develop rapid recall of number facts: know addition and subtraction facts to 10 and use these to derive facts with totals to 20, know multiplication facts for the x2 and x10 multiplication tables and derive corresponding division facts, know doubles of numbers to 10 and halves of even numbers to 20
d. develop a range of mental methods for finding, from known facts, those that they cannot recall, including adding 10 to any single-digit number, then adding and subtracting a multiple of 10 to or from a two-digit number; develop a variety of methods for adding and subtracting, including making use of the facts that addition can be done in any order and that subtraction is the inverse of addition
e. carry out simple calculations of the form 40 + 30 = ?, 40 + ? = 100, 56 - ? = 10; record calculations in a number sentence, using the symbols +, -, x , ÷ and = correctly [for example, 7 + 2 = 9] .
Solving numerical problems

4. Pupils should be taught to:
a. choose sensible calculation methods to solve whole-number problems (including problems involving money or measures), drawing on their understanding of the operations
b. check that their answers are reasonable and explain their methods or reasoning.
Processing, representing and interpreting data
5. Pupils should be taught to:
a. solve a relevant problem by using simple lists, tables and charts to sort, classify and organise information
b. discuss what they have done and explain their results.

mrz Tue 09-Apr-13 21:03:06

I disagree beezmum we are a bog standard school

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 21:22:02

MRZ bog standard primaries in deprived areas don't get the results you claim to.
Here are maths levels from the current Nat Curr.

You will note that they describe the skills students will have, not their progressive mathematical knowledge. That is because the current curriculum is skills based. Its not up for debate, its in black and white and the assumptions apparent in these descriptors are contradicted by research.

ipadquietly Tue 09-Apr-13 21:22:32

beez I think mrz and I are from opposite ends of the country. I too teach times tables, and all the 'knowledge based' curriculum she has listed above. Contrary to media (and thus, popular) belief, children are required to learn their tables, and they do do bus stop division and vertical addition (etc).

Over the past few years, many schools have each developed a maths curriculum policy, outlining what a child should know to progress to the next step. Ours is very similar to the new curriculum, except perhaps for the fractions part. In much the same way, most of us are using sequential phonics schemes.

And what is that blog wittering on about? I've never been asked to teach thinking skills!

ipadquietly Tue 09-Apr-13 21:24:38

beez Have you seen the APP grids? No-one uses the national curriculum as an assessment tool.

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 21:52:59

Perhaps using my actual area of expertise will help make my point more clearly. Sorry I am about to talk secondary on a primary forum and it is very long.
I teach Political Ideologies to A2 students. While I was on my last rather long maternity leave A level specifications changed to emphasise acquisition of skills. I had previously prepared students to write essays for example, 'Socialism is defined by its opposition to capitalism, discuss.' The weaker students would learn descriptions of the different sorts of socialism and then in the essay they would outline each type and say in passing what that sort of socialism thought of capitalism. My aim as a teacher is to try and improve their understanding so they can get a bit beyond this. Able students would be able to really actively compare types of socialism and explain WHY they had different approaches. I marked their essays using a set of level descriptors, one description for each grade and did a best fit to get the grade.
Anyway I return from maternity leave to find the essay title is the same but mark schemes have become skills based. Now I have to mark the essays using four different level descriptors, one for knowledge and the other three judgements for various types of analytical skills shown by the student. Those that haven't run away screaming may remember that my weak students had never been able to do lots of meaningful analysis because it required fluent grasp of the detail and they just weren't really able to understand the stuff well enough to analyse it much at all. So now I have to teach weaker students 'analytical points' they could make which they don't understand, or they will not get any of the three quarters of the marks available for analysis. The new mark schemes were changed to become skills based but unfortunately the ideology that underpinned these changes as well as that of the current curriculum, ignored the obvious point any cognitive psychologist could have explained - that skills come from fluency of knowledge. There is not a separate discrete 'analysing skill' that can be taught and assessed. I now have to spend countless extra lessons drilling my poor students on 'technique'. Results have become much more unpredictable because a weak student might happen to say the particular buzz words that count as 'analysis'. The mistaken assumptions of a skills based approach have made a dog's dinner of assessment.

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 21:54:45

cheers for comment on APP. The point is that the current curriculum IS skills based, which was being debated.

ipadquietly Tue 09-Apr-13 22:09:15

So...for example:

On the maths APP grid, it says that children should know doubles to 20. That's not a skill, it's knowledge. I will level the child by his or her knowledge of the curriculum.

AF7 on the reading APP is to: relate texts to their social, cultural and historical traditions (Knowledge-dependent, surely)

AF7 on the writing APP is to: select appropriate and effective vocabulary (not a skill, but dependent on the child's knowledge and experience of the language)

I wonder, in your example, whether you are just citing a change in the exam marking system that was introduced for political purposes. Haven't they been fiddling around with marking criteria in an effort to lower grades?

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 22:09:48

Ipad - its great if many schools are improving in that way - although not my experience locally. However, because you teach maths knowledge does not mean you have a knowledge based curriculum, especially if the assumptions that underpin the curriculum deny that skills come from fluency of knowledge. I would want to look at the proportion of time spent practising to gain fluency as opposed to teaching maths problem solving. Maths is what you asked about but the real heart of the knowledge based curriculum is humanities/science.
The thinking skills blog is relevant because those are the same assumptions that underpin the curriculum - that skills can be taught in isolation of the relevant content and are transferrable.
Must go to bed and try and limit time tomorrow. MUST start doing some prep for new term!

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 22:11:51

Hey ipad - yes political - everything is - but no - not about grades. The last reforms to GCSE and A level were explicitly to make them more skills based. Its all in black and white - but please don't ask me to find it now!

beezmum Tue 09-Apr-13 22:14:12

When schools use APP that doesn't mean the National Curriculum is any less skills based in its rationale, If anything it would suggests reform is over due in a more knowledge based direction.

ipadquietly Tue 09-Apr-13 22:24:30

Interesting thread just started that says that Willingham advocates a knowledge based curriculum with skills being taught alongside. (I had picked that up from reading his blogs - hence my 'defensive position', pointing out that much of our maths and english teaching followed this model already!)

I think we do need a more knowledge based curriculum in science, and I totally endorse the draft. YR/KS1, IMHO, should be learning about the world, and should do most of that outside. I think the weighting on investigational skills is ridiculous, and too much time is spent teaching the abstract process skills.

Gove seems to be taking knowledge to the next level in the humanities! Somewhere along the line, the introduction of thinking skills would be useful! How else are your pupils going to answer analytical questions a couple of years later?

partystress Tue 09-Apr-13 22:58:09

I get really irritated by the false either/or argument. I'm not sure whose interests it serves. Knowledge without skills is pretty useless, and you can't develop skills beyond those that are instinctive without some form of knowledge. Eg, driving is a skill that becomes unconscious with practice, but you need to first learn to know the sound of the engine that tells you when to change gear before the skill of shifting the gear stick will be of any use.

The concept that makes most sense to me is of crystalline and fluid intelligences. My understanding of it is that crystalline is the stuff we know: memory plays an important part in the accumulation of knowledge, but so does motivation, physiological factors and the way we encounter the knowledge (which is where quality of teaching comes in). Fluid intelligence is the ability to apply what has crystallised into other contexts - to take a specific and apply it generally, to recognise a skill we have acquired and adapt it to be useful at another level or in another discipline.

Maths is my passion and I am forever banging on to my class (Year 6) about the importance of knowling their tables because it makes work on fractions, shape, probability, ratio, algebra - just about everything in fact - so much easier. I talk to them about the parts of the brain and the fact that frequent practice puts knowledge into a place where your brain doesn't have to work hard to find it, it is instantly available, leaving the cleverest bits of your brain free to do the creative thinking you need to solve problems.

I don't think there is any need to make a choice between skills OR facts/knowledge: my worry is that some elements of the proposed new curriculum are so packed that we will have to work through them faster than many children can securely take them on board. What I haven't seen in all the posturing and name calling is sensible proposals for what teachers should actually do differently to speed up the rate at which children learn. And given Wilshaw's Ofsted likes teachers who barely speak in class, I am looking forward to his advice on how to engage children as active learners on some of the more challenging aspects of the new KS2 history curriculum hmm.

ipadquietly Tue 09-Apr-13 23:44:13

Insets on Thought Transfer, with learning objectives taken from The Demon Headmaster? grin

Agree wholeheartedly re knowledge and skills. Knowledge is useless unless you have the skills to build on it and use it. (I reckon there's a reason why pub quizzes are full of the over 50s - people who can remember soundbites from their 'knowledge-based' secondary school curriculum, and who know nothing in depth.)

partystress Tue 09-Apr-13 23:47:38

grin ipad

mrz Wed 10-Apr-13 07:17:41

Confesses we use the NC to assess not APP.

mrz Wed 10-Apr-13 09:27:43

Since the thread has moved from the appointment of an unqualified teacher to the post of headteacher to the proposed National Curriculum I will throw in this quote from a headteacher in my area
I’m not going to worry about the new draft primary curriculum as it will be presented as a skeleton document that will act as an outline. How and what we tailor to meet our children’s learning needs will be over to us – what an opportunity!!!

partystress Wed 10-Apr-13 09:42:06

Maybe I'm just feeling pessimistic, but isn't it the case that, however skeletal the curriculum, it will be the way that school performance is measured that determines how much freedom there is. If SATs are replaced by something equally high stakes, isn't it likely that timetables will continue to be dominated by those subjects that are tested? Btw, I am not saying that maths and English should not be the bedrock of what we teach at primary, but that teaching to the test happens whenever HTs'/schools' futures are at stake.

beezmum Wed 10-Apr-13 10:09:17

Ipad you were arguing that our current curriculum is knowledge based the following is my attempt to explain why it is most emphatically not. First it is not knowledge based in the sense that Hirsch or Gove would want or the successful Massachusetts curriculum is, or they would not be critical of it. However, I think you are arguing that it has sufficient knowledge in it to support the skills we aim to develop – which is a slightly different issue.
First, any curriculum which assesses generic skill levels rather than knowledge contradicts the premise of cognitive psychology, that skills flow from fluency of knowledge. So as a history teacher I am expected to assess student’s growing understanding of ‘causation’ with levels that describe an ever more sophisticated understanding of causation, when in fact it is the material the student studies and the depth they study the material in that creates the difficulty. This is the same flawed assumption that has created havoc with my A level Politics teaching as previously outlined. Of course our current curriculum contains knowledge – the issue is that it is written with the assumption that skills can be taught directly with the content little more than a vehicle to teach the skill. Now if as a teacher or a school you don’t necessarily have those assumptions you can still use our current curriculum without realising you are subverting the spirit of it!
Secondly, education discussion and inset are awash with arguments that education is to develop skills as knowledge can be googled. The argument is generally that the twenty first century will require different knowledge and so schooling should focus on skills. You would need to have been hiding under a rock not to have come across these arguments. They are very beguiling but one of the many arguments against this view is that it is not supported by cognitive psychology as skills flow from fluency of knowledge. You have only to look at Chris Quigley’s skills curriculum and many other popular ideas in primary education to come across these assumptions. They are pervasive within in our education system currently and that fact they stand on dodgy premises makes no difference. Anne Swift an NUT leader headlined with these arguments this Easter:
Anne Swift, from the union’s ruling executive, said action was needed to protect children from the “grad-grind of a pub quiz curriculum”, saying children could use Google to access facts. “I fear this proposed curriculum will mean teaching children to learn facts by rote, with inspectors turning up to test the children’s knowledge of the continents, chronological order in history and the times tables,” she said.
They are countered by Daisy Christodoulou here:
Ultimately the Gradgrind pub quiz view of a knowledge curriculum is a parody. As I said before no one in education denies the need for children to understand what they learn, really not even that devil Gove. A knowledge curriculum rejects the idea that ‘twenty first century skills’ can be taught and generally applied. A knowledge curriculum also aims at skills but is based on the idea that fluency of knowledge is required to demonstrate those skills which means content, its quality range and difficulty is important. That is in direct contradiction to the current curriculum as evidence in the way I am expected to assess.

beezmum Wed 10-Apr-13 10:12:51

Yes, the new curriculum is conscioulsy designed so you can teach it the way you want to. The belief is that it should not be role of the curriculum to define how you teach.

mrz Wed 10-Apr-13 10:28:40

as was the current curriculum

CountingClouds Wed 10-Apr-13 10:43:35

very eloquent explanation beezmum

mrz Wed 10-Apr-13 11:07:26

Are you talking about the Common Core State Standards beezmum?

beezmum Wed 10-Apr-13 11:11:57

MRZ perhaps I could explain that better. The current curriculum goes beyond giving all pupils access to a common body of essential content. For example the secondary science curriculum 'contexts' have become dominant displacing key knowledge and concepts. Contexts such as environment, specific industrial processes and atomic power can provide motivation to study and show relevance of conceptual material but they should not be listed in the curriculum because they can be systematically misleading and distracting, preventing the effective acquisition of underlying concepts. Wiliam and Black make this point, attending to the superficial aspects of pupil's work rather than the underlying conceptual development makes a poor curriculum. The teacher should be free to make the material relevant as they see fit. These argumetns are from Oates in his great article Could do Better. He poits out that our current curriculum is too context, rather than knowledge and concept led. Teachers should be free to make the material relevant as they choose.
BTW I didn't say in my last long post that a knowledge curriculum also focuses on knowledge to provide 'cultural literacy' and so its History, Geography and Science elements would be very clearly different from the current skills emphasis very clear in the current primary curriculums.

beezmum Wed 10-Apr-13 11:13:45

MRZ Not sure what you mean by the question. I was talking about a knowledge curriculum in general terms - the common core could be an example.

mrz Wed 10-Apr-13 11:21:38

I can't really comment on the current secondary curriculum I'm afraid as it isn't something that I have experience of teaching but as far as the primary curriculum goes it provides a great deal of freedom to teach how and to a certain extent what you want as long as you cover the minimum requirements, which are just that "minimum".

mrz Wed 10-Apr-13 11:23:59

You mentioned the Massachusetts curriculum and I wondered if you were referring to the Common Core Standards

ipadquietly Wed 10-Apr-13 12:29:19

The Common Core state standards look very similar to the progression through APP.

Looking at the grades 6+ history, the objectives look skills based. As they standards are supported by the Core Knowledge Foundation, it would appear that skills are taught alongside the 'knowledge' curriculum.

It seems to me that all primary age history is covered under 'reading of informational text' (which would give the opportunity for historical topic work) and that actual learning of history starts in high school.

It looks like something has been lost in translation in the new draft.

beezmum Wed 10-Apr-13 12:58:45

My knowledge of the Common Core is limited - I have read reaction to it but not enough. I do know that although Massachusetts has agreed to the Common Core this means watering down their current, very successful curriculum. So no, they are not the same.

beezmum Wed 10-Apr-13 13:00:57

And cheers Counting Clouds!

beezmum Wed 10-Apr-13 13:08:51

MRZ up thread posted a link with a really good explanation of the Massachusetts curriculum's implementation.

mrz Wed 10-Apr-13 13:09:33

Didn't Massachusetts formally adopt the CCSS?

beezmum Wed 10-Apr-13 14:29:40

Yes, thats what I said - see my last. Common Core is not the successful knowledge curriculum that has led to Massachusetts current success.

mrz Wed 10-Apr-13 14:32:00

so Massachusetts has abandoned a successful curriculum to adopt the CCSS?

ipadquietly Wed 10-Apr-13 14:43:32

But the Core Knowledge Schools (in MA and elsewhere) are using the CCSS? confused
...supported by Hirsch

mrz Wed 10-Apr-13 14:45:31

That's what I thought but from your previous post I thought I must be mistaken confused

ClayDavis Wed 10-Apr-13 15:13:01

The CCSS sets out a bare minimum that children across the US should know. States can sign up to it and add further standards as they wish. Which Mass and other states have done. They also produce 'curiculum frameworks' which will go further than the CCSS and in the case of Massachusetts this would pretty much be their previous curriculum so signing up to CCSS wouldn't involve abandoning their curriculum or watering it down.

mrz Wed 10-Apr-13 15:14:10


ipadquietly Wed 10-Apr-13 15:15:30

Taking stock, it would appear that Annaliese et al have done a pretty poor job of telling Michael how things are going stateside (or else he hasn't listened to them).

It looks like the Hirsch Core Knowledge schools are using a knowledge-based curriculum, supported by the CCSS, much of which is skills based.
This doesn't fit in with Gove's sentiments about teaching 'skills'.

I feel now, that I should be more sympathetic of Pimlico going down the Core Knowledge route, as it seems to embrace both knowledge and skills.

Has Gove chosen to misinterpret the Massachusetts model in favour of nationalism?

ClayDavis Wed 10-Apr-13 15:24:06

I think it might be like Singapore maths. Something Gove has sad he likes but has never shown that he has any understanding of what it actually involves.

mrz Wed 10-Apr-13 17:46:39
muminlondon Wed 10-Apr-13 19:08:05

'I feel now, that I should be more sympathetic of Pimlico going down the Core Knowledge route, as it seems to embrace both knowledge and skills.'

Is this why Annaliese Briggs said she wouldn't be following the curriculum, then? Do you think Gove really did draft it himself?

It still looks like History and D&T are the problem areas from that link, Mrz. And some aspects of PE. I think it is a very male emphasis. I personally hated competitive/team games at school yet I did lots of dance and liked trampolining and running despite not being that good. If they mean competitive in terms of personal best in athletics, that's different!

ipadquietly Wed 10-Apr-13 22:32:05

Dunno mil ! grin
It just looks like things aren't as clear cut as they seemed two days ago!

beezmum Thu 11-Apr-13 10:06:06

I don't know why there is an assumption Gove doesn't want children to become skilled. That is simply the media parody of his position: 'pub quiz/ Gradgrind blah blah blah.
The point is that he argues that knowledge is important for comprehension/cultural literacy and that therefore knowledge must come first as skills come from fluency of knowledge. He does not see knowledge as simply a vehicle for the development of 'twentieth century skills'.
Whether the curriculum he proposes is likely to aid these goals is open for debate.
This link is Willingham's take on Gove's most recent big speech setting out his ideas. You can use this link to read Gove's original speech which (whatever one's view) is very readable and interesting...

muminlondon Thu 11-Apr-13 10:30:19

The draft history curriculum for primary schools is overstuffed though, and even if you are entirely sympathetic to his aims, it is counterproductive if it is unteachable (or taught badly by non-specialists).

It seems extraordinary that criticism by highly respected historians and associations has to be made in public forums rather than as part of the consultation process. As part of that debate there may be misinformation but that's the consequence of rushing the process.

I found this blog interesting -for someone who prides himself on detail and knowledge he quotes example of scientific inventions that are actually wrong:

But I am still interested to know if the NC history draft is not even what the Curriculum Centre advised.

ipadquietly Thu 11-Apr-13 10:54:55

There are no skills mentioned in the history curriculum for KS1/2.

I'm not writing to defend all education policies undertaken by the current British government--I'm not knowledgeable enough about those policies to defend or attack them.

Point made.

'Progressive educational theory stressed the importance of children following their own instincts, rather than being taught. It sought to replace an emphasis on acquiring knowledge in traditional subjects with a new stress on children following where their curiosity led them. And that was usually away from outdated practices such as reading, writing and arithmetic.'

This is just not true. Phonics, maths and literacy are taught in a structured way. You only have to look at the maths curriculum posted yesterday by mrz to appreciate this. When we start a term, we generally have a focus (i.e. history/geography/science). We will show a film and get the children to say what they want to learn about. That sounds very progressive, but the truth is, that if the teacher has chosen to show 'How to Train a Dragon' as the basis of a history topic, you can be pretty sure that she knows that the children will want to know about Vikings!
In fact, in the 60s when I was in Y6, we followed 'Nuffield maths' and were given a triangle. We sat looking at that triangle for weeks. I remember wandering around the playground with it. Turned out we were supposed to 'discover for ourselves' that there are 180 degrees in a triangle! grin Likewise, several years later, I did a Nuffield course for A level chemistry. We had lots of fun, but didn't have sufficient background knowledge to really understand what we were doing. (It was also fun for the teacher who used to sit smoking at the back of the lab - she just 'let us learn for ourselves'.) These examples are of progressive teaching, and are certainly not used today (in primary schools, at least).

'Visit the most exclusive pre-prep and prep schools in London - like Wetherby in Notting Hill - where artistic and creative leaders like Stella McCartney send their children - and you will find children learning to read using traditional phonic methods, times tables and poetry learnt by heart, grammar and spelling rigorously policed, the narrative of British history properly taught. And on that foundation those children then move to schools like Eton and Westminster - where the medieval cloisters connect seamlessly to the corridors of power.'

We use rigorous phonic/spelling methods, times tables, grammar and learn songs, poems and nursery rhymes. We don't learn history chronologically, but we do learn facts - how can you stop a 7 year old wanting to learn about gory stuff that happened in the past?
(As for the last sentence - the £40K a year might have something to do with it....)

I'd read this speech before. It's a load of clever waffle - singing the praise of academies whilst forgetting to acknowledge that most state schools are running similar curricula.

(I did like the bit about unskilled workers growing up in homes with 'substantial libraries'.)

ipadquietly Thu 11-Apr-13 10:56:35

mil But I am still interested to know if the NC history draft is not even what the Curriculum Centre advised.

Short of Annaliese joining this thread, I'm not sure how we're going to find that one out!

mrz Thu 11-Apr-13 11:08:08

" Subjects will be taught discretely, with an emphasis on coherence and specialism. History, for example, is taught chronologically, beginning with Antiquity;"

from the Pimlico curriculum

mrz Thu 11-Apr-13 11:10:00

Pimlico Academy is proud of its unique status as the only school in the country with a discrete specialism in History.

muminlondon Thu 11-Apr-13 11:43:05

Gove in his speeches often contradicts himself too. He mentions a 'brilliant' academy head Rachel de Souza but does not mention that she is leaving after three years (to manage a trust set up by another DfE board director, although her current school's trust still has three schools in special measures). He then goes on to say only 23% are entered for Ebacc nationally, because they have been 'denied access to qualifications' whereas only 9% were entered at her school in 2012.

Also Holland Park School was 'until quite recently - an academic basket case' but ' in the last ten years' the school has been transformed (i.e. under the last government).

It's hard, therefore, not to think he is cherry picking.

beezmum Thu 11-Apr-13 11:57:57

My point is that the speech does not say he does not want children to develop skills. He argues knowledge is necessary for skills. The fact you might want to criticise it for other reasons isn't the point.

The proposed history curriculum does list skills its just then that it procedes to list so much content that its hard to know when you would have time to develop them! As I said before I think the proposed national curriculum in history is more of a negotiating position than a serious proposal. I am not saying I approve of that approach to curriculum development!

Your schools might be 'rigourous' but my dd's was much like the triangle discovery one you describe. In the end I took her out. The Tes early years forum is full of discussions along the lines of 'I would like my class to try and learn to read from digging in the sand tray.' I parody but 'rigourous' would be a very inappropriate description of it all. I agree that there is plenty of good practice out there but I think your teaching is much better than what goes on in plenty of schools.

The CC suggests two chronological cycles. Going into more depth second time around. Its on the website and from what I can see it doesn't seem so ridiculously stuffed. The CC curriculum is based on the same principles regarding cultural literacy and skills coming form fluency of knowledge as Gove's is, but my impression is it is a) much more reasonable and b)being continually refined in the light of what goes on in the classroom.

beezmum Thu 11-Apr-13 12:05:11

This is taken from the Gove National Curricullum. Plenty of distinctly Gove polish but clearly outlines key historical skills should be developed and it even says 'understand' not just 'know'!!!

"A high-quality history education equips pupils to think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, and develop perspective and judgement. A knowledge of Britain's past, and our place in the world, helps us understand the challenges of our own time.


The National Curriculum for history aims to ensure that all pupils:

know and understand the story of these islands: how the British people shaped this nation and how Britain influenced the world
know and understand British history as a coherent, chronological narrative, from the story of the first settlers in these islands to the development of the institutions which govern our lives today
know and understand the broad outlines of European and world history: the growth and decline of ancient civilisations; the expansion and dissolution of empires; the achievements and follies of mankind
gain and deploy a historically-grounded understanding of abstract terms such as ‘empire', ‘civilisation', ‘parliament' and ‘peasantry'
*understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity, difference and significance, and use them to make connections, draw contrasts, analyse trends, frame historically-valid questions and create their own structured accounts, including written narratives and analyses
understand how evidence is used rigorously to make historical claims, and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed
gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between local, regional, national and international history; between cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social history; and between short- and long-term timescales.
Attainment targets

By the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study"

muminlondon Thu 11-Apr-13 12:40:30

But it is very dull and repetitive, isn't it? It reminds me a bit of a badly written set of work objectives by a bored employee told to be 'SMART' and use verbs and suggest outcomes rather just list a series of tasks. Just insert the words 'know and understand' and hey presto, the tasks become 'objectives'. I need to be able to know 'why' and 'how'.

The present primary curriculum just sounds more dynamic:

- recognise why people did things, why events happened and what happened as a result
- identify different ways in which the past is represented.
- ask and answer questions about the past.
- describe and make links between the main events, situations and changes within and across the different periods and societies studied
- recall, select and organise historical information

In my very fact-driven, chronological history education at school I never really knew how else to organise information or ask/answer questions. I do agree that at secondary level (not primary) the curriculum may have drifted too far one way but this curriculum does not improve on what we have now.

beezmum Thu 11-Apr-13 12:55:53

Muminlndon. Those aims are pretty much the same and with the same sort of wording as now - all very familiar to a history teacher and the point is it clearly shows Gove DOES want students to develop skills. Thre is nothing more fun than laying into a Bogeyman but do they really exist? I think there is plenty to criticise Gove for but the level of debate is so puerile and ill informed that I find myself endlessly defending him.

muminlondon Thu 11-Apr-13 12:57:52

Because it is not age-appropriate and is over-extended, David Cannadine wrote of this draft:

'The only way to deliver such a curriculum would be to abandon any pretence that history is about understanding as well as about knowing, and to teach it in just the patchy, simplistic, superficial and disconnected ways that the Secretary of State deplores about the present arrangements. His proposal does not solve that problem: instead it intensifies and exacerbates it.'
'There are two further problems, one of commission, the other of omission. The first is the serious disconnect between the broad ranging aims outlined in the preamble to the proposed curriculum, and the introverted insularity of the syllabus itself ... The second problem is that this draft curriculum merely highlights the central longstanding issue, that there is insufficient time in the classroom to teach history seriously, for it is impossible to cram in all that is prescribed to children between the ages of five and fourteen'

mrz Thu 11-Apr-13 13:01:55

I think the sheer volume of content will mean that schools cannot cover any period in detail resulting in children having a superficial knowledge of history.

muminlondon Thu 11-Apr-13 13:03:18

'the level of debate is so puerile and ill informed '

I have followed the debate over the last two days with interest respecting your experience as teachers. The curriculum is in draft and as been judged by better qualified by people than me. But I find that comment disrespectful.

muminlondon Thu 11-Apr-13 13:04:24

'has been judged'

mrz Thu 11-Apr-13 13:14:49

you seem to be the only person who regards this as personal criticism of Michael Gove beezmum

mrz Thu 11-Apr-13 13:16:54

who incidentally made some ill informed, puerile criticism of schools and teachers in my area without ever setting foot in a single school or speaking to a single teacher

ipadquietly Thu 11-Apr-13 13:17:16

I don't think the 'aims' at the start of the draft history curriculum relate to the objectives (?introduction?) at the start of the KS1 and KS2 sections, and their content.

The aims at the beginning mention skills that are ignored until KS3.

It doesn't quite make sense to me.

Eeeeeowwwfftz Thu 11-Apr-13 13:33:25

Ah yes. The age-old trick of converting a syllabus into learning outcomes by putting the word "understand" at the beginning of each bullet point. The question one should ask oneself is "how will this be demonstrated?" To some extent this seems to be what this debate is about. Gove's position seems to be dangerously close to one that says understanding can be demonstrated by reciting what someone else has told you about something. I say "seems" because he's not very good at defining his terms (q.v. rigour).

beezmum Thu 11-Apr-13 15:11:40

"you seem to be the only person who regards this as personal criticism of Michael Gove beezmum"
Er what????? You mean he has not been heavily criticised on this thread? I think Gove is quite puerile at times - I said so regarding the way I suspect he has published a history curriculum that is purely a bargaining position. That's no excuse to descend to his level and all that and say things about his goals that are just untrue e.g. he does not want children to learn skills which is just parody of his position.

Ipad and Eeee.... whether the curriculum in general and the history curriculum in particular are coherent and workable documents is a good debate to have. However, in the interests of intellectual honesty it is right to point out that the 'pub quiz'/Gradgrind etc etc position is NOT a fair representation of Gove's views or the principles behind the curriculum.

Regards the history curriculum I really think the amount of content makes it ridiculous. I agree entirely with MRZ and her comments. However, it is just one (sadly minor) subject on the curriculum so we can't judge the whole curriculum from it. EEeee it is a challenge for this curriculum because it must move away from purely skills based criteria as these are flawed (as I explained up thread). However, the history curriculumdoes much more than expect understanding. There are many more skills listed than that and we don't yet know what assessment criteria might look like so lets wait and see.

mrz Thu 11-Apr-13 15:31:17

actually I think he has got off very lightly on this thread and the focus once it moved from the OP has been on the curriculum content not the man.

ipadquietly Thu 11-Apr-13 16:06:16

TBH it appears that Gove is just spouting a collection of soundbites (once a journalist, and all that...) He rails about 'progressive' education (that doesn't (IME) go on), and praises the free schools and academies for rigour in phonics and times tables, which most schools do anyway. Empty words.

From where I stand now, Hirsch's model as used in the US Core Knowledge Schools looks quite sensible, particularly if the core state standards are used in tandem with the Core Knowledge curriculum.

I also think Willingham endorses what many primary schools are doing now in the UK, building skills on a knowledge base. (I reckon his arguments against using learning styles to plan the curriculum are specific to the USA - they were never embraced with much fervour here.)

So, apart from the rather awful draft history and DT curricula - it doesn't look so bad to me. smile

However, I think they have made a BIG mistake employing a 27 year old non-teacher to run a school! grin

mrz Thu 11-Apr-13 16:08:19

So, apart from the rather awful draft history and DT curricula - it doesn't look so bad to me.

However, I think they have made a BIG mistake employing a 27 year old non-teacher to run a school!


muminlondon Thu 11-Apr-13 16:17:55

I think there is some general consensus here grin

beezmum Thu 11-Apr-13 19:17:17

...ditto (if allowed)

ipadquietly Thu 11-Apr-13 19:57:45

I think I need a holiday after all that!

Have now filled in consultation form.


mrz Thu 11-Apr-13 20:03:06


mrz Wed 09-Oct-13 18:48:09
tethersend Wed 09-Oct-13 20:55:50

Mrz, that has absolutely made my day. Thank you smile

ravenAK Wed 09-Oct-13 21:38:39

Schadenfreugasm here too. smile.

muminlondon Wed 09-Oct-13 22:32:24

That's really weird, was wondering how long she would last! A free primary proposed neighbouring private school teachers in West London has just swapped its founding headteacher for a new principal after seven months. No explanation.

ipadquietly Wed 09-Oct-13 23:10:38

Just had to quote this Telegraph article from April 3rd. Feel that egg on the face. Hahahahahahahahaha grin

'Scarcely a day passes without some Left-wing dinosaur making a fool of themselves over education policy. Today it was the turn of Paul Dimoldenberg, a Labour councillor in Westminster. He has called for the Conservative-run council to launch an inquiry into the appointment of Annaliese Briggs as the headmistress of Pimlico Primary. His complaint is that she doesn't have a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), the qualification you get after spending a year at teacher training college.
"I can't believe how anybody could be so arrogant to believe that they can do that job when they've never taught in a school," he says. "I find it quite staggering."
In fact, Ms Briggs has taught in a school – several schools, in fact. Employed by the well-known think tank Civitas, the well-known education think tank, she helped run Civitas Schools, a network of after-school classes and Saturday schools across the country. As for her lack of credentials to run a primary school, she is one of the country's foremost experts on E D Hirsch's core knowledge curriculum and, as such, advised the Department for Education on the new primary National Curriculum.
It goes without saying that Westminster Council won't launch an "investigation" into her appointment. Pimlico Primary isn't a local authority-run school so the council has no say over who's hired to run it. This is just a piece of grandstanding by Cllr Dimoldenberg. The reason he's making a fuss is because the school in question is sponsored by Future, a multi-academy trust set up by the schools minister Lord Nash and his wife. Like the Observer, which ran an attack piece about Ms Briggs earlier this month, he sees this as an opportunity to score a few cheap political points.
Left-wing critics of free schools and academies are constantly harping on about the fact that they're allowed to hire "unqualified" staff, by which they mean teachers who don't have the union-approved bit of paper. It's a complete red herring. Independent schools have long enjoyed this freedom, yet it hasn't put parents off. Far from it. According to a 2012 Populus survey, 57 per cent of parents would send their child to an independent school if they could afford it. Ultimately, it's for parents to decide whether they want their children to be taught by teachers without PGCEs, not trade unions or Labour politicians.'


PiqueABoo Thu 10-Oct-13 00:16:50

That was my reaction when I skimmed the Civitas UK version of Core Knowledge (that I assume Ms. Briggs had a large hand in before she went off try it out in a real school).

merrymouse Thu 10-Oct-13 06:04:35

I am a bit confused and must have missed something. Is Hirsch the author of the 'what your first grader should know' etc. etc.

I was curious and downloaded this on kindle a couple of years ago. I wouldn't say it was a wasted purchase because I used it as an anthology of fiction and poetry and it was useful to have loads of children's stories on my phone, but I didn't think the educational theory was exactly ground breaking.

merrymouse Thu 10-Oct-13 06:05:49

[the 'what your first grader should know' etc. etc. books.

mrz Thu 10-Oct-13 06:57:30

Hirsch is an influential American education "guru" founder of the Core Knowledge Foundation - co-author of what your first grader ...... & in UK what your Year 1 child ...... (Annaliese Briggs/ED Hirsch)

merrymouse Thu 10-Oct-13 10:16:23

The UK series seems to be just "What your Year 1 child should Know". Maybe she has quite to to do the rest of the lesson planning.

PiqueABoo Thu 10-Oct-13 13:21:12

There is an entire 'curriculum' for Y1-6 you can get from their site in year-by-year pieces, each being 20+ pages long. You don't get three terms of lesson plans with the NC (but can obviously go buy them).

merrymouse Thu 10-Oct-13 13:46:31

Just looked at website - looks like the US version but adapted for UK history and geography. That curriculum does look rather stressful to convey in its entirety...

juniper9 Thu 10-Oct-13 15:23:38

The school only opened in September! So she made it an entire month... hmm

muminlondon Thu 10-Oct-13 19:00:20

I wonder if she actually did any teaching herself at Pimlico Primary? A local BBC programme showed parents who expected to see her in the classroom and talked of a 'temporary teacher'. Her experience consisted of editing someone else's books and tutoring in after-school clubs, while her teaching practice may have been with older children, so being in front of 30 four-year-olds might have been a shock to the system. Or was it the stress of managing trained teachers with far more experience than her? Or talking parents who had completely different expectations from her?

juniper9 Thu 10-Oct-13 19:33:51

The Guardian article says that the parents had been told she was ill and would be coming back... sounds like it was their reporter who informed them that she had left. Bet that went down well...

I can't imagine the staff would be particularly supportive of her, unless they were hired knowing exactly what the situation would be.

lalalonglegs Thu 10-Oct-13 20:04:17

I don't know what the appointing committee were thinking - what a mess.

PiqueABoo Thu 10-Oct-13 21:45:06

@merrymouse, " That curriculum does look rather stressful to convey in its entirety..."

I looked at it a year or so ago with eyes biased by a relatively bright and musical DD and I couldn't see how it would possibly work for a child and thus their teacher, especially at the younger ages. Amongst many problems it has of course got everything (and then some) that was wrong with Gove's history in the new curriculum before he did the U-turn.

It beggars my belief i.e. I find it almost incomprehensible that people playing with education can be so pig-ignorant about the nature of young children.

nlondondad Thu 10-Oct-13 22:29:56

There may not have been an "appointing committee."

One of the "freedoms" Free Schools have is to ignore all the recruitment rules, including competitive appointments on merit.

Also in an ordinary state school the appointment (and for that matter removal) of a Head is a matter for the school governing body so parents are involved in the decision through their elected representatives. In Free Schools this decision is entirely one for the Trust ie the sponsor. The school GB (of which in any case a majority are appointed by the Trust) has no say.

ClayDavis Thu 10-Oct-13 23:18:38

Some of the core knowledge UK isn't that bad but they've chopped and changed it in a fashion that makes a complete hash of the US version.

They seem to have completely got rid of the idea of domain based units that link the different areas of the curriculum. Bits of history and geography have moved year groups so some art/music literature that linked and should be in other year groups has moved as well, leaving them overcrowded. Other bits stayed where they were so are now taught in isolation rather than as part of a topic.

The music is a mess because they've tried to crush 9 years of curriculum into 6. This also added to the overcrowding in some year groups where bits had been moved.

WRT history, the US has a lot less history to cover. That allows them to do a brief overview from K-2 and a more in depth study from 3-5 alongside major world civilisations, then in depth studies of world history from 6-8. The UK has metric fuck ton of history from the Stone age to the modern day and they've tried to cram it all into 6 years + world civs. Whoever decided that an overview of the change in the power and role of the monarchy and parliament should go in year 1 has obviously never met a 5 year old. The CRE history curriculum which is also chronological is much better, IMO.

The less said about the geography curriculum the better. WTF is going on with the European part? Or the UK regional part for that matter.

muminlondon Sun 13-Oct-13 14:59:10

There's more on it in a local paper:

'A source close to the school told West End Extra that there had been an incident where parenting skills were called into question. They described it as a “Victorian approach to schooling”. It is believed the deputy head of Millbank Academy, another Future-run primary school, Kelly Teddy has been parachuted in to “hold the fort while they try to sort it all out”. '

So perhaps it was the stress of dealing with parents...

muminlondon Sun 13-Oct-13 15:00:21

...I wonder if they had her email address? wink

RiversideMum Sun 13-Oct-13 15:16:04

Obviously the normal notice period does not apply in free schools either ...

nlondondad Sun 13-Oct-13 16:48:33

Interestingly last Thursday I was at a "Consultation meeting" organised by the proposers of a Free School, that, if it opens will open near me. At the meeting we were assured in the strongest possible terms by Bellvue Ltd, the commercial company that want to set up the school, that all the teachers would be fully qualified and the Head, when appointed would be both qualified AND experienced... The Pimlico case was never mentioned, but I think it must have been in their minds...

nlondondad Sun 13-Oct-13 17:13:56
friday16 Sun 13-Oct-13 22:23:29

Now that Free Schools are Labour orthodoxy as well, it's going to be amusing to watch the Guardian pirouette and suddenly decide that they are a dynamic and innovative response to education policy, the sort of thing that this country needs more of.

nlondondad Sun 13-Oct-13 22:44:46

Actually what the Guardian article says is that Labour have said theywill support parent led free schools in areas where there is a shortage of school places. Under a quarter of Free Schools are being set up by parents at the moment.

(So for example, the The Free School in Islington I keep banging on about is being proposed by a commercial company to open in an area where there is no shortage of places, which is quite a different case.....)

friday16 Sun 13-Oct-13 23:08:22

Actually, Hunt included social entrepreneurs in his list of groups that would be allowed to set up not Free, oh no, completely difference, schools.

You're welcome to interpret that as excluding commercial companies.

It's a policy car-crash: Free schools allow in all sorts of charlatans, and Hunt's announcement is just a thin coat of paint on the same thing.

muminlondon Mon 14-Oct-13 00:05:10

Free schools are just new academies. Labour has to justify why it created/approved sponsored academies in the first place. And figure out why many are unpopular with middle class parents - they were forced conversions in many cases but with capital investment.

The problem with the Hunt article is that so far he doesn't mention
(a) how the Academies Act prevents councils from setting up its own schools,
(b) how to get some oversight over fair admissions, including faith schools which can still be set up as both voluntary aided (100% faith criteria) or free schools (50% cap but often outside the existing network of church organisation)
(c) how to get schools collaborating rather than competing
(d) a categorical rejection of profit-making and conflicts of interest among government decision-makers and Ofsted inspectors.

But apart from that I'm sure he's jolly nice.

friday16 Mon 14-Oct-13 00:19:06

Labour having been working on the assumption that all they need to do is sit tight and the Tories will lose the next election, either via a hideous scandal or via the economy still being in the toilet. They've also been working on the assumption that the Lib Dem vote will collapse to zero and every one of those votes will come "back" to Labour; the idea that Labour are the natural owners of the SDP Lib Dem vote, an idea that the last thirty years' history should have disabused them of, is apparently still prevalent.

Neither appears to be the case, and Labour are (at last) thinking they might actually have to publish a manifesto and campaign on some policies in 2015. Unfortunately, the poor loves aren't really quite up to it, and therefore "we'll do what the Tories do, so don't worry about instability, but it'll all be fluffier and nicer in ways we can't quite define" is about all they can do.

Accepting Osbourne's spending plans are binding on an incoming Labour government is kind-of OK: the economy's still going to be substantial deficit, and a Labour party that planned to increase annual borrowing and/or raise taxation wouldn't be electable. Even they can see that. But why the fuck do they see the need to pre-commit to essentially continuing unchanged Gove's education policies? If an incoming government is going to do the same as the existing government, why bother changing?

nennypops Mon 14-Oct-13 10:00:42

Back on topic - I recently had to deal with the process of performance review and target setting for the headteacher at a school where I'm a governor. It was blindingly obvious that no head without experience of teaching could conceivably do that job, and you have to wonder what on earth Lord Nash was thinking putting his protegée up for it. Reports suggest she was finding it too stressful with only 60 children in the school, so she didn't have a hope in hell of coping with a full school.

muminlondon Mon 14-Oct-13 11:45:15

I agree - she was unqualified and completely lacking in experience, and I feel sorry for her for having been subjected to such stress as she was so obviously out of her depth.

Lord Nash wrote the foreword for the Governors' Handbook in May 2013. Section 5.2 'Appointing staff':

'Appointing a head teacher is a pivotal decision in the life of a school. It is crucial that a governing body has the skills it needs to carry out a thorough and effective selection process.'

They have an acting head at the secondary and have asked a deputy at a newly acquired primary to step in the breach here, which puts pressure on staff at the other school. Apparently another class teacher at Pimlico primary has left. He and his wife are co-chair of governors of Pimlico Academy and his wife is chair of the primary.

As governors he and his wife are obviously lacking in the skills and competence to make an effective appointment. But as they sponsor the school and he is Schools Minister, who can sack the governors in this case?

straggle Sun 20-Oct-13 00:17:30

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