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Continuing the debate of the proposed National Curriculum

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

What do you think

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

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