'National' Curriculum

Sarah's picture
by Sarah
If Academies are free not to apply the national curriculum and Gove wants all schools to be Academies, what is the point of the review of the national curriculum? It will no longer be 'national' if Academies can opt not to apply it at will.
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Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 29/12/2011 - 10:45

In theory academies can opt out of the National Curriculum. In practice, they will be hamstrung by the exam system and testing regime (E.Bac and league tables). Mr Gove says the new curriculum for all subjects will be introduced in 2014 by which time he also expects most schools to be academies. He says that the postponed introduction of the new curriculum is to give "schools more time to prepare for a radically different and more rigorous approach." So on the one hand he wants academies to be free of national curriculum restrictions, but on the other hand he wants them to get ready for fundamental curricula change.


In addition, primary heads are worried that the proposed division of Key Stage 2 into two halves will increase the amount of testing foisted on schools. No school, whether academy or not, will be able to escape the testing regime.


As I pointed out before, "they create a prison and call it freedom."


Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 29/12/2011 - 13:37

The Academies Show 2012 will have a session on the National Curriculum even though academies are, in theory, able to ignore it. Among other things it will discuss (my comments are in brackets):

•Assessing the curriculum through tests and qualifications (from which few schools will be able to escape).
•Sharper accountability through tables and Ofsted (ditto)
•Giving teachers greater professional freedom over how they organise and teach the curriculum (OECD found that UK teachers already had this freedom in 2009. See http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2011/12/autonomy-adaptability-and-...).
•Developing a National Curriculum that acts as a benchmark for all schools (ensuring that all schools stick to it).
•Ensuring that the content of our National Curriculum compares favourably with the most successful international curricula in the highest-performing jurisdictions (as long as these curricula match the Government's pre-conceived ideas).
•Enabling parents to understand what their children should be learning throughout their school career and therefore to support their education (this is only possible if all schools follow the same curriculum).

In conclusion: academies have notional freedom to opt out of the National Curriculum. In practice, they will not.


Samuel Morris's picture
Thu, 29/12/2011 - 19:32

To quote a comment from www.thestudentroom.co.uk this appears to be the way the curriculum is structured in one Academy!!

"My sister stayed at the old place and shes in y7 - she has four days of "new generation" learning, which is english maths and science, in one room, with one teacher. The other day she does "synergy" which is pe/art/music, and once every two weeks they have a "deep learning" challenge where they make stuff out of bricks":

Leonard James's picture
Thu, 29/12/2011 - 20:33

This is right up your street isn't it Janet?

Tracy Hannigan's picture
Thu, 29/12/2011 - 19:46

I am drafting a post on my blog on this very subject. I found a document on TES about a particular Free School's approach to their curriculum. They stress they are not bound by it - but everything in it is NC or LA approach to RE. The difference - they were planning to have school until 5pm and on Saturdays in order to hit the targets they planned to set.

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