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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

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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 Sat 06-Apr-13 20:28:16

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

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 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.

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.

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

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

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.)

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.

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.

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 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?

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.

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).

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