Tough new tests for children at 5 and 11?

(62 Posts)
mrz Mon 08-Jul-13 06:54:25
Pozzled Mon 08-Jul-13 07:16:18

Can't see the full article, but this line made me shudder:

'a national test at the age of 5 so teachers know children's capabilities when they start school'

MirandaWest Mon 08-Jul-13 07:20:19

Have suddenly realised that if this starts from next September and that as DS is just finishing year 4 that he'll be in the first cohort to take new exams at the end of year 6.
I can't see the whole article either but presume after today we will find out more.

JakeBullet Mon 08-Jul-13 07:28:46

My DS is autistic and hates tests. He will br in Y6 next year. "Tough new test"? , Yeah? Good luck with thay as he will refuse to do it.

mrz Mon 08-Jul-13 07:28:58

I'm not sure whether to start a new thread or post here because it's related
www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/jul/08/michael-gove-education-curriculum-fractions

mrz Mon 08-Jul-13 07:34:54
MirandaWest Mon 08-Jul-13 07:36:54

Have read the guardian article - there does seem to be a lot of emphasis on computer programming but without full details of the new curriculum it is hard to tell what is planned.

Reception children using fractions could mean a lot of different things and there are various things that are happening already in DCs school at any rate. However giving academies and free schools the ability to opt out does rather lessen the "national" line.

Would tests on 5 year olds be entry base lining or a test at the end of reception I wonder?

AuntieStella Mon 08-Jul-13 07:36:58

The ST article is surprisingly superficial. I'll have a google later, but can anyone link what is being proposed for 5 year olds? It appears to be some sort of end-of-reception assessment - something which happens anyhow. What sorts of changes are being discussed (doesn't seem to be an actual proposal on this - or was that just sloppy writing?)

Some of the curriculum changes have been widely trailed and are uncontroversial (eg times tables to 12), but this is the first time I've seen programming being added so young (adding programming is a welcome thing overall though).

And of course neither academies nor free schools have to adopt any of it.

Pozzled Mon 08-Jul-13 07:39:56

Primary academies will still have to follow the curriculum I believe, but secondary academies can opt out.

CinnamonAddict Mon 08-Jul-13 07:51:24

Programming could be things like Scratch which is absolutely fine for 10-11yo.
I don't see a reason for a big outcry in the Guardian article.
Lots of these things are already done in a few schools. And are probably standard in private schools anyway.

is there a link to the new new curriculum changes yet?
Can't believe they would drop word processing for 5 year olds, when actually more should be made of it. Kids should be taught to type early with the heavier and heavier reliance on computers in education.

Fractions could be a simple as 'colour in half'.

simpson Mon 08-Jul-13 08:23:46

Fractions for 5 yr olds will probably be slices of pizza (half, quarter).

Times tables should be taught to 12 anyway IMO.

sanam2010 Mon 08-Jul-13 08:48:16

Finally, I get upset every time I hear what children learn in ICT at the moment (using word, ppt, photoshop), computer programming is finally something useful and intelligent.

Agree fractions will be slices of pizza, dividing an apple etc., I don't think they'll be multiplying fractions or anything like that.

I am really happy about the overhaul as I have to worry less about my children wasting their time when they start school.

AuntieStella Mon 08-Jul-13 08:59:27

BBC article says full announcement later today. The curriculum covers 5-14, and the pre-announcement trailers do not say at what age programming will be introduced, though what they say will be included seems very sensible.

Periwinkle007 Mon 08-Jul-13 09:18:16

basic fractions like half quarter etc will be fine, will help them learn to tell the time earlier too which I think is always useful. times tables are fine IMO. Not sure it is so much about what they are going to teach as how they are going to assess it?

MrButtercat Mon 08-Jul-13 09:49:04

God my dc mastered Scratch at 8, was hoping that finally they'd suggest something more challenging. Will read said article.

MrButtercat Mon 08-Jul-13 09:52:11

Bar the history(and the poetry reciting,I have have shy kids)it looks good.

Periwinkle007 Mon 08-Jul-13 10:07:56

yeah I am not sure about the poetry reciting but I do think the idea to introduce poetry earlier (at least I assume it is earlier) is good. My reception daughter is obsessed with poetry since we were given a brilliant book of over 300 poems, she then started picking all the poetry ones from the reading box (read 10 out of 12 of them) and then progressed to writing her own poetry (completely unprompted). The joy she has got from poetry which I assume she wouldn't really have done at school yet is great and I have recommended the book to lots of other people and they children seem to enjoy the poems too. so I don't think poems itself can be a bad thing but I can see lots of children not wanting to recite them. Although perhaps it is a good way to build confidence?

Tiggles Mon 08-Jul-13 10:19:02

grin, thank goodness I live in Wales!
I'm a software engineer and started programming properly at 7, but have no interest in teaching my just to start reception DS how to program. They need to be learning logic at that age - how to plan work into steps, if a child can't work through a long maths problem in a logical way there is no point trying to teach them to program. They need basic skills first.
Why only teach history to 1066? That is crazy, and misses out all the interesting topics they currently do in primary school.
If children come to school unable to count to 5 (which I remember being a news headline a year or two ago) why teach fractions in reception, they need to learn to count first. (Or are they saying '5' meaning year 1, in which case surely they already do fractions in year 1).
Whilst I see that the very top end of children would probably be fine with the above curriculum, I think the majority of children will not be.

Tiggles Mon 08-Jul-13 10:24:24

Did I also read that all schools are going to get 3D printers, who is going to fund that?

Periwinkle007 Mon 08-Jul-13 10:27:38

I saw the 3d printer thing and thought exactly the same. I assume they mean the sort I saw on This Morning a week or so ago (rarely watch it but happened to see them making these 3d plastic things with a printer - quite fascinating really)
I agree with the programming, they need to learn the basics, like I think they need to learn to do proper handwriting before we worry about them learning to type or they will never learn to write properly. My handwriting is rubbish now, I was never the neatest but now it is truly awful because I rarely have to do any other than write notes for myself.

MrButtercat Mon 08-Jul-13 10:28:01

Little my dp is a software developer and my DS 9 picked up logic etc very quickly.Believe me he's bored shatless with his IT lessons.The only time I see I'm excited is when he goes off to a G&T IT course or does coding at home with dp.He constantly nags but dp doesn't often want to teach coding after a belly full at work.

Wait until your dc gets older,you won't believe how shit the IT is in primary schools.Totally not the fault of teachers.I am wondering where they're going to get the staff to teach all this programming though,dp struggles to get certain programmers as it is.

MrButtercat Mon 08-Jul-13 10:32:35

Have to say in my experience of Dp's IT colleagues those proficient at programming etc aren't the type who would be that good at imparting their skills to hoards of school kids.grin

Tiggles Mon 08-Jul-13 10:33:43

DH has designed 3D printers, laser cutters etc they are very cool, but very expensive.
MrBC I agree completely about who is going to actually teach the programming. I'm meant to be going into DSs school to teach them some basic HTML skills, but they never seem to have the time. The problem is that I can see that (primary) children can learn procedural programming e.g. basic, but to truly grasp object oriented programming which most languages are today (e.g C#, Java) would be way beyond most children. A lot of degree students struggle with the concept and to do it well.
DS 'programs' games on sploder, but that just seems to be a drag and drop of pretty pictures into an order to create a game, which is what I can see the government may mean by 'app' programming, but it doesn't actually provide any useful programming skills.

MrButtercat Mon 08-Jul-13 10:42:28

Little disclaimer<I know buggar all re IT>

I agree.

The Java and C #(Oracle)stuff I am sure is what Dp's Masters and certifications are in.Java is what DS is nagging to learn.Scratch he found very easy he has done on a G&T course.There is very little for kids like DS,he is lucky he has dp(when he has the inclination).

My query is if businesses struggle to get the current in demand coders then schools will struggle even more and surely it's only worth teaching the languages in demand.

Most coders I know like a solitary existence tinkering.grin

Apologies for any incorrect jargon.

MrButtercat Mon 08-Jul-13 10:56:18

Oh and I was a teacher but couldn't code for toffee,great at teaching reading etc but I'd be dire at programming.Wonder if they'll outsource,hmmm could be a market.<strokes chin>

OddBoots Mon 08-Jul-13 11:34:58

It's about time programming came in, I was absolutely horrified at parents' evening at my ds' secondary school when it became clear that not one of the ICT teachers knew a single programming language.

Periwinkle007 Mon 08-Jul-13 12:30:51

the other problem with prgramming is that what is in demand changes over the years. a child can learn to program in primary school in one language, when they are then at GCSE level that one won't be the one mostly used any longer and by the time they have done a degree and got a job it will have changed again. Now the principles of programming and how you have to think things through is the same (I think) in different types of programming but there are a lot of differences between programming on a Mainframe or Unix for example. I was RUBBISH at programming, I absolutely hated it and found it very difficult to do. I was however extremely good at the management of it all and coordinating stuff which many of the programmers couldn't do (and had no desire to do).

MrButtercat Mon 08-Jul-13 12:37:08

Exactly Peri my dp is very good at keeping one step ahead and changing languages accordingly but he is simply thinking about his career,how on earth you do it x amount of years ahead with thousands of children and the resources they need I don't know.

I wonder what other countries do.

Tbh any change though will be better than IT at the moment in schools going by my dc.Even dd who isn't an IT geek finds it easy and boring.

Periwinkle007 Mon 08-Jul-13 12:43:04

well quite - IT is seriously bad in many schools. When I worked in Uni admissions it was awful that people could be coming in with some of the ICT A-levels/equivalents at grade A and actually only being able to use word, excel etc, never having done any programming. scary to be honest. I am sure many of them would have been more than capable of learning stuff at a higher level but the qualifications didn't give the opportunity. I am not sure with primary schools as we are only at reception stage at the moment.

BlackeyedSusan Mon 08-Jul-13 12:46:23

we always used to assess them when they came into school anyway. it makes more sense to find out what they know when they come in than at the end of year two if they are going to use it to grade the school. afterall, foundation and key stage one teachers have put in a lot of work to get the children to the standard they are by the end of year two. o at least one would hope so.

assessment should be informal and easy to complete on 30 4 year olds. I do noot trust gove to be able to deliver that though.

dd is going to start programing with her dad soon anyway. he promised ages ago but we have been a bit busy with bereavements and parents and sorting out all the stuff that goes with it.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tiggles Mon 08-Jul-13 13:07:54

In principle, as a bigger picture, teaching programming to school children especially at secondary level, is a very good idea.
But as a PP said, in their secondary school none of the IT staff had programming knowledge, who is going to teach these 'several languages' to them, and teach it well. Unlike maybe in some lessons where I hear tales of the teacher being one step ahead of the class, to teach a subject like programming you really need to understand it, especially in the more modern Object Oriented languages. I wonder whether Gove and his colleagues have actually tried it.
The starting point for procedural languages is, firstly - can you follow instructions accurately, followed by can you create accurate instructions.
e.g. if you were teaching someone to wash up, after telling them to put the washing up bowl in place and turn the tap on, would you remember to tell them to turn the tap off again. Every action needs to be documented very carefully. Only once you can create an accurate instruction list can you then start to program. Teaching actual programming from age 5 will miss out the basic steps of learning to create instructions in a sensible order (something I believe DS2 has been learning to do in year 1 - instructions, not programming). If when they are saying 'programming' at 5, they really mean 'creating instructions' it could be ok.

The sounds of tests designed to be tough at age 5 is ridiculous. Parents have enough anxiety at the year 1 phonics test, which is not meant to be tough. Having removed testing at year 2 replaced with less stressful continuous teacher assessment it seems a step backwards.

Tiggles Mon 08-Jul-13 13:11:07

Oh, just seen more detail. 5year olds will be expected to debug their own simple programs. They really do mean actual coding then...

MrButtercat Mon 08-Jul-13 13:40:07

Will be interested to see how they get every 5 year old competent in de- bugging going by the de- bugging traumas dp had with his team last release.grin

Blissx Mon 08-Jul-13 13:51:15

Ahh, surprised this has turned into a "bash IT teachers thread"!

For what it is worth, I am an ICT teacher with a degree in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence from Sussex University and have been teaching both ICT and Computing for the past 9 years after being an XML programmer in industry first (Computing and ICT are different so no wonder those studying ICT qualifications cannot program - it is a different course!) It is not our fault that Tony Blair focused solely on ICT after 1997 and garnered the notion "anyone can teach IT", which has led to lots of schools bypassing ICT with non-specialists.

At secondary, up until 4 years ago, there was only a Computing A Level which was notoriously hard as it would have been the first time students would have covered the extensive material. Then, 4 years ago, a pilot GCSE in Computing was introduced and last Sept, this went nationwide. Give us some time to put it all into place!

We are slowly introducing Computing into Key Stage 3 as well so that it is not such a jump at GCSE. Computing is not just programming though (how about how a computer actually works/Binary/Logic/Systems/Networks etc) and knowing lots of languages are not advisable when learning to code anyway, as you won't go into any depth. Learning the principles (sequences, loops, functions etc through Scratch is a great start) first and the language "second" is much better. Hence, Primary children can get started earlier. There was a post that mentioned only Scratch was available - not true. Can I suggest to get an avid pupil to look at Greenfoot, Alice, Kodu etc,. all free to download?

I was talking to someone who works for Credit Suisse on Saturday and is paid huge amounts of money to manage risk using the language Python and he admitted he'd pass most of it off to his techs. I said to him I have 16-18 year olds who can probably program better than he can and he agreed!

Sorry for the long post, but my overall point is that schools are getting there. ICT teachers are spending long parts of their holidays re-training, helping other schools, re-writing whole Schemes of Work and getting back on track. Unfortunately, it just won't happen overnight.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

weirdthing Mon 08-Jul-13 14:02:05

Blissx - my Dh works in IT - we home educate and he is teaching our sons IT exactly as you have said. My friend's DH has a Phd in programming and used to earn shit-loads of money (they also home ed) and he too agrees on knowing how the computer works.thinks before learning to program. Our kids are all 3-7 and know how computers work, have taken them apart and are learning basic programming alongside how computers think. My son's ex-classmates are doing cut and paste!

Tiggles Mon 08-Jul-13 14:04:50

Not an IT teacher bashing thread at all smile. Merely concern that many schools do not have the facilities to teach 'several languages' and programming in general at primary level. I know several primary teachers who give the impression they are not really very confident with maths, I am concerned if they also had to learn and teach programming.
With a confident teacher I would be very happy for all my children to learn programming in school, but to only give a year for all schools to become competent in an area where there has been little need before, seems to be a government run before you can walk initiative.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrButtercat Mon 08-Jul-13 14:10:54

What Little said

Bliss I hate to say it but sadly I doubt your 16 year olds could code good enough for most firms with billions reliant on said code.My dp is a rarity(a manager who is a damn good coder) and he struggles at times to get tech people good enough and who can produce good enough work in the time needed.

I think the gov may be under estimating the level of expertise needed to teach this stuff at the higher end and indeed primary with the more able.

MrButtercat Mon 08-Jul-13 14:11:51

I think we pointed out a long way down we weren't teacher bashing re IT.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MirandaWest Mon 08-Jul-13 14:28:31

Is there a link to the new curriculum (coding and other aspects)?

MrButtercat Mon 08-Jul-13 14:32:34

I guess but there is never time(or money at the mo)for training is there.Dp has often had to train himself in his own time. The reason they seem to be beholden to contractors (paid silly money and not always that great) is because they need the expertise instantly not a year ahead.

The bosses higher up say what they want and pluck deadlines out of the air- you have to provide it.

Maybe this curriculum will help but not sure how they're going to provide the expertise or resources.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrButtercat Mon 08-Jul-13 14:47:33

Yes,guess you're right.Dp does seem to be one of those with a natural aptitude who can learn any new code.That said he is very good at maths has an engineering degree,Msc in computer science etc.Scarily he loves it.hmm

I know all the training in the world wouldn't enable me to produce one word of code.grin

Wonder what they do in India etc.Having said that dp has had quality issues with outsourced code so maybe they don't have all the answers.

Tiggles Mon 08-Jul-13 14:53:24

The company I first worked for, the first projects I worked on were 'merely' testing code for safety critical projects. The skills and thoroughness developed through this, where not a single error could be left undetected (think RAF fighter jet crashing if code wrong, or power station blowing up), were exceptionally useful. Through studying code for many months before writing any of my own I learnt a lot of best practice.
Once 'let loose' to write my own code, we were told the day before "On your way home buy a book on X programming language" you will be expected to code in it tomorrow. Learning the language syntax is the easy part, it is the intricacies of good design which are way more important (in my opinion grin).

consulation is here

runs to Aug 8th.

Tiggles Mon 08-Jul-13 15:03:59

Thanks kitten

AuntieStella Mon 08-Jul-13 15:09:31

I think this is what they are talking about today But the website is awkward to navigate (anyone else noticed how much worse they've become across the board in the last month or so?)

And it appears that the consultation actually runs until August. So still time to chip in.

AuntieStella Mon 08-Jul-13 15:10:37

X-post (yes, it did take that long to navigate DfEd site!)

all of the .gov sites have become hideous to navigate and half them have vanished as departments amalgamate with no clue as to where to find the info any more.

Tiggles Mon 08-Jul-13 15:14:50

Well having read the computing proposals by the end of KS1 and 2 I was rather confused and hmm. But having read KS3 I think that actually what they will be expected to do at KS1 and 2 is not so bad. e.g when they say 2+ languages at KS3 they quantify that only one must be textual. Presumably then at KS1/2 none are textual so they are only looking at drag and drop technology eg scratch, rather than 'real' programming and debugging. In terms of things like converting decimal to binary, we learnt that at primary and is useful, especially if you are going to program microcontrollers.

AuntieStella Mon 08-Jul-13 15:16:35

Even though the link I posted is to DfEd (not gov.uk) both those links are several clicks away from the proposal documents, and those docs are not clearly titled. And the actual outline curriculum is another click from the proposal document.

Dreadfully shambolic.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrButtercat Mon 08-Jul-13 15:23:57

Let's hope the IT bods doing the gov site aren't the same people advising Gove.grin

Tiggles Mon 08-Jul-13 15:28:03

MrBC grin.

Also, when they say age 5 they mean year 1 so 5-6, rather than reception 4-5. I had assumed when the media were saying 'first time fractions ever taught at age 5' they meant reception, as they are definitely in the Welsh framework for year 1 (and we tend to be behind England). The fraction stuff seems pretty much what DS2 is doing at the moment e.g. what is 1/2 of 6 he'd be happy to tell you (and he isn't G&T) not sure if he would know how to write it though.

Blissx Mon 08-Jul-13 18:59:18

We're a sensitive bunch us teachers!wink LunaticFringe, I graduated in 2002. MrButtercat, don't mind me and my anecdotal 'evidence', just thought I'd add it to point out there are some improvements being made.

With regards to the concern over the skills of Primary Teachers, there are a few groups including Computing at Schools network already supporting Primary Teachers and Primary Teachers are a resourceful bunch and will work hard to support pupils in the right way, of that I have no doubt. Being used to frequent govt. changes and having to adapt at a moments notice is a skill teachers have become adept in. What does worry me is how quickly and haphazardly this new curriculum has been put together and by whom. More industry bods have been involved than teachers and I worry the pedagogy hasn't matched up.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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