We live in interesting times.
I have no privileged information, but have been following the primary curriculum developments with some interest. My (personal) reading is that the Education and Children bill promised for the autumn will have something close to the Lib Dem manifesto commitment to ‘CurriculumLite’, ie a minimum core entitlement, with a degree of autonomy devolved to all schools in terms of how this is taught and, perhaps, on how it might be supplemented. The Secretary of State certainly seemed to be indicating this on the Today programme on Wednesday.
Gove maintained that the National Curriculum is “too crowded and cluttered and too prescriptive”, whilst the first two may be the case, I think he may be confusing the statutory curriculum with the plethora of non-statutory ‘guidance’, such as QCDA schemes of work and numeracy and literacy frameworks in regard to the latter.
As to what the core contains, Gove indicated an entitlement to English and maths, with British history and MFL being ‘encouraged’, although the latter may be restricted to Swedish 😉 There was, unsurprisingly, no reference to ICT.
My reading of the Academies Bill is that the new primary academies and won’t be required to follow the National Curriculum, merely to provide a ‘broad and balanced’ curriculum as with registered independent schools. I would expect the same provisions to apply to the new Free Schools.
There are perceived contradictions over such things as Gove’s views on systematic synthetic phonics and the promised freedoms over how to teach, but from what he’s said elsewhere, my guess is that advice will be offered, but that schools who do well in SATs and impress Ofsted won’t be required to conform.
The announcement yesterday that QCDA is to be wound down rather confirms this. It’s significant that the SATs are here to stay but that Gove wants QCDA ‘to withdraw as soon and as far as is practicable’ from the curriculum.
Where then does this leave us?
I think we’ll see some specification of a minimum core curriculum for LA schools, and a requirement for ‘breadth and balance’ for other (ie academies, free and independent) schools. How this is taught and supplemented will be down to governing bodies and headteachers, although I’d expect to see a number of organisations (including local authorities, publishers and other groups) developing their own curricula, covering the common core but providing their own particular approaches and extensions to this: the Rose recommendations or QCDA’s interpretation of them might be two such approaches, as might the Alexander model, IBO Primary Years Programme, a primary version of Futurelab’s Enquiring Minds approach, materials developed through the RSA’s Whole Education project, or the commercial Dore creative curriculum.
The maintenance of core entitlement and robust accountability measures would, I think, open up many interesting possibilities, and indeed the responsibility, for schools to offer distinctive, challenging and relevant curricula reflecting their unique character. I don’t doubt that many schools will be eager to ensure that their curriculum makes the best possible use of technology to enhance learning and teaching, although the requirement that they do so may now be a thing of the past.
[The above was originally posted on Naace‘s Advisory talklist]Share