Continuing the debate of the proposed National Curriculum

(60 Posts)
mrz Wed 03-Apr-13 09:39:38

What do you think

MTSgroupie Wed 03-Apr-13 09:42:42

What do YOU think, OP?

mrz Wed 03-Apr-13 09:49:36

I think the history curriculum is overstuffed and will result in a watered down coverage due to time limits. I also think the Hirsch influence could lead to insular thinking.
Having said that I don't think it is the straight jacket being portrayed in the media

hels71 Wed 03-Apr-13 12:34:28

I agree re History. Also I wonder how it will work with mixed age classes if it has to be done in order. I think the whole thing is a bit bonkers to be fair and does not seem to reflect what children could really do with learning and I wish they would just leave things alone to be honest. i have lost count of the changes that have happened since I started teaching.......Everytime it is suggested that this way is the best way then lo and behold a few years later it seems it wasn't...(having said all that at the moment I only teach music and just do things my way as I always have done...!!!)

ClayDavis Wed 03-Apr-13 13:50:44

Someone on the thread yesterday said the whole thing was a total disaster. I don't think it is. In ks1 particularly, there's plenty of room to teach in whatever method suits.

Given the Hirsch influence, it's understandably very knowledge based and I'd like to see more balance between skills and knowledge. Having said that, there's no reason why you couldn't add skill to teach alongside the knowledge.

KS2 history is a disaster. There is way too much detail to teach within 4 years. I don't think it will lead to knowledge and understanding at any depth let alone the depth expected of a 10 year old.

mrz Wed 03-Apr-13 13:59:00

I agree about the knowledge and skills balance.

ipadquietly Wed 03-Apr-13 14:03:59

Main subjects (maths, english, science) are fine, as very little has changed. Science is even a bit dumbed down IMO, especially in KS1 - it's almost become 'nature study'!

As many of us have said on other threads, the history and geography are a joke (particularly as they'll most likely be taught in the afternoon grin - imagine!) And I'm still wondering how they chose Christina Rossetti to be one of the significant historical people for 5 and 6 year olds to learn about, along with the relevance of peasantry and parliament.

ipadquietly Wed 03-Apr-13 14:09:29

Sadly, I think the creative curriculum will be lost because of the demands of the humanities subjects. I think the links we've woven between subjects using the cc have made teaching and learning so rich and enjoyable over the last few years.

mrz Wed 03-Apr-13 14:12:41

I think it will still be possible to teach the new curriculum in a creative way but that will depend on individual schools and teacher confidence.

ClayDavis Wed 03-Apr-13 14:17:48

I'm tempted to see if I can try and shoehorn the history curriculum into a long term plan. I suspect it won't go.

ipadquietly Wed 03-Apr-13 14:24:44

I agree that the syllabus can be approached 'creatively' by the teacher.

However, at the moment, we are able to be led by the children into areas we, as teachers, had never imagined possible - because they want to learn about something. For instance, we may be learning about castles, which is taken off at a tangent by the children, who want to learn about weapons, or medieval folk stories - whatever. We don't write our medium term plans until the children have told us what they want to do.

mrz Wed 03-Apr-13 14:35:02

I think we need to remember that the curriculum is a minimum requirement and that as schools and teachers there is nothing to stop us from expanding to follow children's interests ... well nothing but the sheer volume of the history content hmm

ClayDavis Wed 03-Apr-13 14:48:23

He did get a bit carried away with the history curriculum.

mrz Wed 03-Apr-13 17:33:40

I can just see him sitting discussing what to put in and someone saying "what about the stone age?"
"oo yes we must have that"
"well what about the Normans?"
"yes, yes"
"we forgot the picts and celts"
"stick them in too"
"the egyptians?"
"no they're foreign..."

ClayDavis Wed 03-Apr-13 17:50:55

"Greeks and Romans?"
"Well they're European. We're not massively fond of Europe but they can stay for now."

muminlondon Wed 03-Apr-13 17:57:04

I can see a load of children wandering round the playground going 'I-am-a-dalek-I-learn-FACTS-examinate!-examinate!-heptarchy-peasantry-freedom!' unexpected item in the bagging area

mrz Wed 03-Apr-13 19:16:55
muminlondon Wed 03-Apr-13 20:01:52

Good article - pragmatic approach. I'd say communicating, listening and collaborating with teachers on implementation won't happen with Michael Gove in place. But Boris Johnson and his 'schools czar' Munira Mirza are also pushing a 'London curriculum' - consulting with the same Pimlico/Civitas clique (not, it seems, the teachers and heads who led the London Challenge), citing Ed Hirsch at every opportunity and attacking leftist teachers again.

mrz Wed 03-Apr-13 20:12:33

Hirsch has been described as the Rip Van Winkle of educational theory

muminlondon Wed 03-Apr-13 20:34:37

That shows my cultural literacy up, you'd better explain that! Trying to Google it, because that's how I learn things, just getting a word cloud of 'Civitas-Hirsch-Briggs-JohnNash-Pimlico-Profit-Civitas' ...

mrz Wed 03-Apr-13 20:42:53

Rip Van Winkle fell asleep and woke up 20 years later. Hirsch wants the world to turn the clocks back to before he fell asleep.

ipadquietly Wed 03-Apr-13 20:47:38

But with Hirsch - he fell asleep more like 40 years ago! He must have retired 20 years ago grin

learnandsay Wed 03-Apr-13 21:55:09

I wish Ferguson had reposted his comment from yesterday. He gave me the impression that he was saying some children (for lots of reasons, especially background) are totally unprepared for a rigorous, fact filled kind of education. And it wouldn't surprise me if that's true. But I don't see why my kids can't have one. The question then becomes what to do with the unprepared kids. We did have a tripartite education system once (Germay copied it and still has one.) It can be done.

learnandsay Wed 03-Apr-13 21:58:45

The big difference with Germany's existing tripartite system and ours is that in Germany you can move up and down the institutions in the system whereas with the old one in Britain you couldn't.

mrz Wed 03-Apr-13 22:06:28

Children could move between schools under the old English tripartite education system learnandsay. My best friend at primary didn't get a place at grammar school but moved up after a year due to being top in his year group.

learnandsay Wed 03-Apr-13 22:11:24

I think the movement ability in the German system is the reason it doesn't get the abolition movement movement against it the way the British/English one did. I don't think our old system did itself any favours in the eyes of the public (whose kids could fail 11+) Good on your best friend by the way. Never heard of that before.

mrz Wed 03-Apr-13 22:15:40

It was very common at the time

learnandsay Wed 03-Apr-13 22:20:55

OK, thanks for the info. The one problem I have heard of in the German system is that progress to their equivalent of grammar school is done on their teacher's recommendation. And a personality in Germany is well known for advertising the fact that he did not get sent to grammar school because of the way that he speaks. He uses dialect. When he "made it big" and went back and met his old teacher and asked why did you send me to "Middle School" the teacher said that was the system. We always did that. If you didn't speak properly we were told to assume that it was because you didn't know how to speak properly.

ipadquietly Wed 03-Apr-13 22:22:11

Never ever happened in my GS, mrz. Not when I was there (70s).

In my ds's GS (to 2008) there was movement when boys passed the 12+, and when they chucked the underachievers out after their GCSEs. And a little bit of swapping of undesirable boys went on between the local GSs as well (probably to avoid exclusions).

mrz Wed 03-Apr-13 22:29:00

I'm obviously older than you ipadquietly because GCSEs didn't exist when I was in grammar school only GCEs (O levels)

ipadquietly Wed 03-Apr-13 22:30:04

The GCSEs were my ds's grammar school!
Mine were O levels! grin

learnandsay Wed 03-Apr-13 22:32:36

In the old days there were CSEs and GCEs

mrz Wed 03-Apr-13 22:39:47

Not in grammar schools there weren't learnandsay.

ipadquietly Wed 03-Apr-13 22:45:17

SMs: (failed 11+) CSEs with no value whatsoever
Techs: (borderline) O levels and typing courses
GSs: (good passes of 11+) O levels and entry to lowly professions like teaching
Public schools: O levels and top professions.

I do, of course, generalise, but the class system was alive and well in the 70s!

muminlondon Thu 04-Apr-13 00:08:21

And in my comprehensive in the 70s: top stream (30%) O-levels, middle stream (60%) mainly CSEs, with 3-4 sets shared between top and middle stream for languages, English and Maths ensuring that a few 'middles' could do o-levels and even progress to A-levels. And bottom not doing exams. Still a bit rigid in my view, because there was no movement between streams, but easier to timetable. That's why GCSEs were brought in. Ebacc takes us right back to O-levels but the proportions haven't really changed - only top sets expected to achieve Ebacc passes and up to 20% of the middle.

muminlondon Thu 04-Apr-13 08:19:32

I should add that streaming happened from aged 12 after tests in all subjects (not just Maths and English).

Wellthen Thu 04-Apr-13 09:01:54

I think the article makes a very good point. We have had years and years of prescription which, whilst often not statuatory, was often treated as such. QCA told us exactly what to cover, the PNS told us which books to read!

Whether you like the new curriculum or not it does end the 'do we have to do this?' argument. Now there will be one document with very clear things that you have to do. I agree the History is stuffed which leaves you little time to let the children wander. But I generally like the rest and I'm actually quite impressed at the freedom we've been given.

Like the author of the article I'm, concerned that people who dislike the curriculum will refuse to engage with it and not take part in its implementation. New long or medium term plans will be a big job that need creativity to get the best out of the minimum requirement so that will require experts across the school.

ipadquietly Thu 04-Apr-13 12:30:57

But the 'people who dislike the curriculum' could be the very people who run every academy and free school in the country. Academies and free schools now account for 10% of the total number of schools, and they can be teaching whatever and however they damn well please.

If the government want a 'national curriculum', then surely every school should have to follow it?

maizieD Thu 04-Apr-13 12:51:03

I wish Ferguson had reposted his comment from yesterday. He gave me the impression that he was saying some children (for lots of reasons, especially background) are totally unprepared for a rigorous, fact filled kind of education.

Coming a bit late to this discussion, but isn't it right that the Core Knowledge schools, using Hirsch's model, challenge these sorts of assumptions?

I've had a little google and found this (admittedly published by the Core Knowledge foundation)

Core Knowledge challenged conventional assumptions about student ability. “Many teachers reported being initially skeptical that Core Knowledge content was not developmentally appropriate for elementary students. However almost all teachers interviewed found that no matter what students' starting points were — low achieving, average or high achieving — they were able to grasp and gain from learning the Core material.” One teacher commented: “They may be six-year-olds, but they can grasp a lot more knowledge than we thought before we started this.”

ipadquietly Thu 04-Apr-13 13:49:03

Using assessment for learning, where my planning is guided by the children's understanding, I find that children forget things very quickly! One day, you think they've got it - the next day, you realise they haven't. They also have a very, very strange concept of time...!

I wonder what form of assessment the Core Knowledge curriculum uses. Just because a child seems to 'get it' at the time, doesn't mean that they've understood and learnt it.

muminlondon Thu 04-Apr-13 17:43:17

I think they have a strange concept both of time and place, especially if those place names no longer exist. So even the strict chronology of events will not make sense if it skips around from Mercia and Wessex to Hastings and Runnymede.

My study of history was strictly chronological at secondary school, all chalk and talk and uninspiring but at least when we got up to the Tudors it was on familiar territory and easier to understand and remember - primary children have been introduced to Henry VIII for decades. There's no chance to repeat and deepen awareness in this syllabus.

Thatssofunny Thu 04-Apr-13 21:55:24

My study of history was strictly chronological. I still don't understand why it's constantly moving about in British schools and I actually like the idea of having history organised in a more chronological fashion. (I don't think I'll be able to cover all of that in KS2, though. Not unless we start using textbooks and work through them from cover to cover each year.)

We covered the stone age up to the end of the second world war at secondary school up to GCSE level, then I switched to grammar school and we did the whole lot again from the French Revolution up to the end of the Cold War. History at grammar school was the most boring experience of my life, though. It wasn't even chalk and talk. Our lessons mostly consisted of reading sources in really old textbooks, summarizing them and then moving on to the next one. I didn't come to appreciate the subject until I started uni. (My grammar school was amazing, but several of my teachers were utterly awful.)

hels71 Thu 04-Apr-13 22:02:30

How will teaching history in a strictly chronological way work in mixed age classes?

maizieD Thu 04-Apr-13 22:04:21

We covered the Romans to the Normans at primary school and then did it all over again at grammar school. I also had some awful teachers there. History lessons for the first 3 years consisted of taking down dictated notes. Never saw a text book... Didn't learn a thing apart from the order in which we were invaded; Romans, Saxons, Danes, Normans...End of Historygrin

Thatssofunny Thu 04-Apr-13 22:25:46

I don't know hels, but I'm not a great fan of mixed-age classes anyway. Too often, they are a cost-cutting measure to avoid having to employ another teacher. I'd rather teach a single-age class of 15 than of a mixed-age class of 30. grin

Alternatively, schools would have to ensure that humanities are taught separately by year group, so perhaps at least get someone to take part of the mixed-age class for that one lesson in the afternoon. (Let's face it, History won't be allocated more than one hour per week.) Perhaps the head could teach them?? shock grin
Wit a curriculum that is very content-led, it's likely that specialist teachers will become more prevalent, which would be sad...being able to teach lots of subjects has been the reason for me choosing primary over secondary.

ipadquietly Thu 04-Apr-13 22:37:10

grin maizie Do you remember the sinking feeling just before the exam when, on opening your exercise book (crammed to the brim with notes), you realised that you had no idea at all what it was all about? I've come out in a cold sweat just thinking about it.

All of my secondary education was like this, with no discussion, no debate, nothing. When I got to uni, I was quite surprised that we were expected to think and talk about things, and that surprise lasted about 3 years.

mrz Fri 05-Apr-13 07:03:19

In the school my children attended Thatssofunny there are only 3 classes one has 25 pupils but that is 3 different year groups and in the other 2 classes have 30 children each but that is the whole of KS2. My friend teaches in a school where she is the only FT teacher and a teaching head covering years R-6.

muminlondon Fri 05-Apr-13 09:01:30

They have to take account of the differences between primary schools - mixed size, mixed age, mixed ability, generalist teachers with varying levels of expertise. Only the largest primaries can afford a history specialist on top of specialist MFL, music, drama, PE and science teachers (although the emphasis of this curriculum and constant plugging of schools with no outside space suggests they've devalued most of the subjects that motivate and inspire children anyway).

What if parents move children from a small rural primary or even a free school that ignores the curriculum to a much more traditional secondary? They will have missed a big chunk of history that will ever be repeated.

I think they should leave primaries alone - let them continue to cover topics like the Victorians, Tudors and Ancient Egypt in the exciting ways that they do now. There may be a place for a more chronological survey course later on at secondary - as long as it ties in with the GCSE syllabus (whatever that may be).

PastSellByDate Fri 05-Apr-13 09:58:15

I think the draft history curriculum (link here: is garbled.

In particular the long list of things to be taught under Key Stage 2 - quite clearly states it's across Key stages 2 - 3 (years 3 - 9 - over 7 years).

and I quote from page 5 -
Key Stage 2

Pupils should be taught about the ancient civilisations of Greece and Rome.

In addition, across Key Stages 2 and 3, pupils should be taught the essential chronology of Britain’s history.

Then there's a long list of highlights in British history.

I think it is sad to see Ancient Egypt go - the kids love it.

To be fair their is another long list for Key Stage 3 - starting page 7 - so I imagine this tug-o-war between what should be taught in KS2 and what should be taught in KS3 will be a very contentious battleground between primary and middle/ senior schools.

At the moment in KS2 our primary covers Celtic/ Roman Britain, Vikings and Tudors. Usually for only 1 term, in a very light way (lots of art projects, maybe a film or video) and maybe a field trip somewhere related - so there is room in the curriculum.

Obviously this document is the thumb-nail sketch. I would like to see (as a parent) what this means in practice in the kind of detail they prepared for the maths curriculum (e.g.

PastSellByDate Fri 05-Apr-13 09:59:17

apologies - should be there is a long list for key stage 3

ClayDavis Sat 06-Apr-13 18:27:17

I think you've misunderstood, Past. The sentence about the essential chronology of Britain's history is the ideology behind the KS2 and KS3 curriculum.

The long list of British history up to the Glorious Revolution is the KS2 PoS and the list starting on pg 7 is the KS3 PoS. There should be no battleground between primary and secondary schools.

pointythings Sat 06-Apr-13 19:19:44

I don't have a problem with learning history chronologically, but I can't help thinking that this history curriculum is insular. I have a problem with Hirsch, as I 1) have vivid memories of Americans asking me if we had TV in Europe confused and 2) I have watched what passes for 'the news' in the US and it's as if the outside world doesn't exist. If that's what Hirsch does, count me out - it does not equip children for life in a global economy.

ipadquietly Sat 06-Apr-13 20:17:48

pointy I think the introduction of the Hirsch curriculum has been a very recent thing in the USA.

If you look at the US website, his curriculum is only being used at a handful of

pointythings Sat 06-Apr-13 20:28:16

ipad I'm not sure whether to find that reassuring or scary...

ClayDavis Sat 06-Apr-13 20:32:35

The Hirsch Curriculum has a much wider world history and geography curriculum than Gove's proposed curriculum.

I agree with you about learning chronologically, but there is a lot of British history and in an attempt to fit it all in they have had to make it insular and cut lots of world history out. Being a bit more selective about what they included would also have meant that topics could have been studied in more depth to develop children's understanding of the time periods studied.

pointythings Sun 07-Apr-13 16:12:32

Clay I just think that including all of British history at the expense of world history is stupid. There is no British Empire any more, has anyone told The Idiot Gove that? Oh, they probably have, he just did his hands-over-the-ears-la-la-la-I'm-not-listening thing he's so good at.

muminlondon Sun 07-Apr-13 17:07:25

Engineers are very unimpressed with the draft NC:

'From a Government that has consistently argued for more ‘rigour’ in education, it makes for a truly shocking read. The fact that ‘food and nutrition’ form the only compulsory part of the proposed D&T curriculum is just the the start of these highly unambitious, low-aiming and frankly economically illiterate proposals.'

The seem to have consulted mainly teachers of art and music or generalists from academies.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 08-Apr-13 03:11:13

My DS1 who is in Y6 has learnt about everything from Queen Boudicca to Egyptians, WW2 to motte and bailey castles and the Norman invasion, the Tudors and many more.

At the same time, he has learnt about various types of art, from Picasso to Van Gogh and a load of others I couldn't name.

Their science curriculum seems quite rigorous too.

The only thing the schools seems to fall down on and run out of time for is Geography - I had learnt so much more Geography before I left Primary school.

(I couldn't believe that my 10yo not only can't explain the formation of an oxbow lake, but doesn't even know what one is!)

Apart from the lack of Geography teaching, is this not 'normal' for the NC then?

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 08-Apr-13 03:13:38

And no, they don't have an issue with the History not being taught in a Chronological order, as they are taught to plot what they are learning on a timeline against other 'bits' of history they have previously learnt about.

muminlondon Mon 08-Apr-13 23:04:41

Interesting to read David Cannadine's take on the history curriculum.

Along with other historians and teachers he argues there was no such systematic consultation or public discussion; it is not age appropriate; teachers may not be adequately qualified and equipped to teach it; there is no provision for children to learn about ancient, medieval or early modern history over the age of 11; it is too over extended for the time available; and there is not enough world history or even history of the rest of the British Isles other than England. He also thinks it is a missed opportunity not to make history a compulsory part of the curriculum until 16.

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