Review, reflection and as appropriate change is good, at all levels, otherwise there cannot be improvement and development

The Department for Education’s introduction document to Reform of the National Curriculum in England, 7 February 2013

  •  1.4 – 1.7, underperformance no doubt is in part linked with the curriculum, but perhaps more significantly reflects: the quality of teaching (referenced in 1.9); and equally, but interestingly not referenced, funding – which to a large extent dictates the range and quality of resources and opportunities a school can deliver and class sizes; as well as pupil aspirations, support from home/carers (referenced in section 10) and wider issues in society that impact on the education of Britain’s young people.
  • 1.11 – 1.12 core subjects must be strong with efficient rigour.  We are part of a global society and including a foreign language at KS2 seems highly sensible/important.  Ideally I believe there should be a range of languages available at all primary schools, through enrichment opportunities and extra-curriculum activities, including KS1.
  • 1.13 – ICT curriculum replaced with a new computing curriculum, with the emphasis being placed on computational thinking and practical programming skills (I will return to this).
  • 1.14 makes the key point that there is a difference between the statutory National Curriculum and the whole school curriculum.  “All schools must provide a curriculum that is broadly based, balanced and meets the needs of all pupils.”
  • 1.15 religious education at all key stages is important to support understanding and tolerance of the views and beliefs of others. I am concerned to see only secondary schools must provide sex education. There needs to be age appropriate understanding and linked to this age appropriate awareness of associated issues, i.e. how to say ‘No!’ and how to seek help in the event of abuse, plus awareness of the emotional aspects and consequences of intimate relationships at a young age. (Perhaps it depends what you term sex education?).  In terms of the curriculum, Science KS1/Year 2 covers reproduction – although it says it should be related to growth rather than children understanding how reproduction occurs.  Year 5 covers life cycles, including reproduction in a variety of animals including humans and Year 6  describes the life processes of reproduction in some plants and animals.  It seems unfortunate to cover the science in the National Curriculum but not require the PSHE angle to be covered at the same time too.
  • 1.17 Core knowledge is referenced in relation to the programme of studies. I would like to have seen reference to skills here too.  I am pleased to see skills referenced in 7.4 in relation to attainment and programmes of study.
  • 8.1 & 8.2 and Question 7 I have no objection to the introduction of a computing curriculum; however, this should not be at the expense and removal of ICT from the statutory National Curriculum.
  • Section 9 and question 8.  I think care needs to be taken not to appear to be ‘trashing’ what has gone before.  There has always been a commitment from the teaching profession to deliver the highest possible standards of teaching and learning.  How people feel this is best achieved may change over time but the focus in schools has always been on facilitating and enabling the highest possible standards for all children.
  • Section 10.  It is vital parents engage in the education of their children and that they understand the expected skills and knowledge in each year of schooling.  Many schools I know do an excellent job at keeping parents informed and updated.  Perhaps nationally there is scope for general agreement on what needs to be included in the partnership between school and home.

Computing – Programmes of study for Key Stages 1 – 4

  • I found the KS1 and 2 subject content too limited in scope in relation to computing and ICT skills as a whole.
  • At KS1 and KS2 I believe the focus of teaching and learning should be given to ICT skills in the broadest sense, with inclusion of computing skills within this. I accept that this may not be true at secondary school level.   However, if ‘computing’ is the term of preference the limited scope proposed at KS1 and KS2 could perhaps be rectified by the following  . . .
  • I believe the last two areas included in subject content for KS3 should be added to KS1 and KS2 –
  • Undertake creative projects that involve selecting, using, and combining multiple applications, preferably across a range of devices, to achieve challenging goals, including collecting and analysing data and meeting the needs of known users
  • Create , reuse, revise and repurpose digital information and content with attention to design, intellectual property and audience
  • With text, multimedia, digital image, sound and music covered as well as electronic communication and programming within the schemes of work.  Although at a stretch perhaps the final point listed for KS2 might be considered to embrace this?  Much will depend how the wording is interpreted and the detail included in the schemes of work.  Without some awareness of this to comment fully is problematic.
  •  There needs to be appropriate and consistent reference to ICT skills within all subject programmes of studies, e.g. Music at KS1 and KS2 should include digital sound and music – composing and recording, so that key skills are embedded in all subjects across the whole school curriculum.
  • In summary, as it stands I have significant reservations about Computing, rather than ICT or Computing and ICT, in the statutory National Curriculum, specifically at KS1 and KS2.  I believe the draft proposals for Computing needs further thought, clarification and potentially key modifications.

Beyond Computing, I think the proposed changes in History and DT would have the greatest impact on our school.

Four hopes

I hope that:

  1. the draft programme of study for the new subject Computing would be revised significantly and sex education would be included from primary and secondary pupils (as referenced in my observations above)
  2. there would be sufficient central funding, and commitment, to facilitate high quality training to enable teachers to deliver what is proposed, where they need further skills and knowledge to implement changes
  3. there would be sufficient funding to cover the new and/or additional resources needed
  4. beyond the curriculum, the government would prioritise funding to schools and teacher training institutions 1) the over all funding to schools so that the ratio of teachers to pupils improves, school facilitates could be kept up to date and fit for purpose and there would be adequate resources to support the best possible teaching and learning and 2) the input into teacher training would be increased to ensure that all new teachers entering the profession have had a full range and depth of opportunities and experiences to maintain and enhance high standards of teaching and learning