Is the National Curriculum dead?

Ian Taylor's picture
The DfE is currently revising the National Curriculum. The timetable for change is shown here You will see that by Sept 2014 the review is completed and teaching becomes statutory.

Here is the response to a question to the DfE

“Academies do not have to follow the national curriculum. They can choose their own curriculum, as long as it is broad and balanced and includes English, mathematics and science.
Yours sincerely
Daniel Webb-Jones
Public Communications Unit

When more than half of all secondary schools are Academies, do we really have a National Curriculum. Is it “National” if more than half of all secondary schools do not have to follow what is prescribed?

What are the implications for not having a National Curriculum? When considering the decades of work put into wanting, creating, and developing a National Curriculum, is it disappearing in a single year without any thought or discussion?

Will the curriculum of our schools now be defined by the big brand Academy sponsors?
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Steve Sarsfield's picture
Fri, 17/06/2011 - 15:18

This is possibly one of the most profound outcomes of Gove’s nationalisation of our state schools.

The simple answer to your question Ian is NO. How could the National Curriculum only serve a minority? In my opinion it’s perverse and act of educational vandalism!
What are the implications for not having a National Curriculum?

Well, Ian for me they will be profound as I believe a child has a right of ‘entitlement’.
This is an important principle and has forced governments and LA’s to maintain state schools in delivering core teaching materials. \

For Cinderella subjects like DT and Food which are inherently expensive the likelihood is that without this ‘entitlement’ they will be easily sidelined for classroom based subjects that are cheaper and easier to resource. This in my view is very short sighted.

If we want to have an economy that is growing and is based upon manufacturing then we must surely look at countries like China that has compulsory DT lessons.

The problem we have is one of perspective.

This government has NO joined up plan.

How can we have a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills talking about a shortage of people with creative skills in the next decade, while the Department for Education moves towards a more academic curriculum that cuts DT out!

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 17/06/2011 - 16:34

Mr Gove's policies are inconsistent. He orders a review of the national curriculum but then says free schools/academies can opt out because opting out is a good thing. He then introduces the Ebacc - very few secondary schools will opt out of the Ebacc because they are going to be judged on it.

The Telegraph reported that Mr Gove was profoundly concerned about the underachievement of poor children in the UK following the publication of the latest PISA in Focus report which discussed "How do some students overcome their socio-economic background?". Yet he obviously hasn't read the report properly because it suggested ways in which disadvantaged pupils could achieve higher grades. These included ensuring that disadvantaged low-achieving pupils received more learning hours and "making courses compulsory".

Ian Taylor's picture
Fri, 17/06/2011 - 18:47

Tim Oates, Group Director of Assessment Research and Development at Cambridge Assessment, published in Nov 2010 “Could do better: Using international comparisons to refine the National Curriculum in England, an analysis of international curricula and the lessons we can learn as we reform our own National Curriculum.”

Here is the paper which sets out the advantages we have gained from having a National Curriculum and how we might refine it.

In a foreword to Tim’s paper, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education, supported the call for international evidence to be at the heart of curriculum reform,

So what do we do?
Set up an Academies system whereby secondary schools do not have to follow a National Curriculum at all.

Some refinement!

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 18/06/2011 - 07:25

This is another example of Mr Gove's inconsistency. He says he wants the UK education system to be underpinned by evidence from international data but then ignores it if it doesn't fit with his preconceived ideas.

The DfE press release even contains this comment from Tim Oates:

"We should appraise carefully both international and national research in order to drive an evidence-based review of the National Curriculum and make changes only where justified, in order to avoid unnecessary disruption to the education system."

This neatly sums up DfE doublethink: it publishes advice saying that changes should only be made when justified by evidence, while at the same time Mr Gove boasts that the coalition's free schools policy is "unleashing a wave of radicalism the like of which will not have been seen since 1944". (Free schools, like academies, remember, don't have to adhere to the national curriculum.)

Considered, careful and backed by evidence, it isn't.

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