Monday, 18 June 2012

New, Draft, Primary Science National Curriculum

Primary Science Draft Curriculum Link

Reading the draft version of the new national curriculum only proves to me how much I don't understand about primary science.

I don't particularly have an issue with the topics that are in the primary curriculum with a few possible exceptions, for example the evolution of the human skeleton and respiration. There seems to be enough for the students so they don't get too bored repeating topics.

I am from the generation of teachers who stuck closely to the QCA units when teaching key stage 3. As a result I will admit that I prefer someone else (a company/outside body) to write my schemes of work for me and I will improve them afterwards. With that in mind as a possible limitation, I am struggling to visualise the transition from the intended (draft) national curriculum proposed by the government and the attained curriculum. This is because I feel the words "identify", "describe" and "explain" a misused so it isn't clear what the students should understand about the topic in the end.

There is also confusion in my mind about the principle that the students must all know the aspects of the curriculum before the class can move on. What will this look like? What happens if you inherit a group from a teacher who didn't manage this?

The other two questions I would like to ask are: How does the national curriculum allow for differentiation? With levels we can teach the same topic to different depths and, to my mind at least, using levels encourages teachers to develop thinking during lessons. And how does AfL fit into the new national curriculum? Again I like the levels, and in particular the APP grid, to help me and my students have a consistent approach to knowing what to do to get better. Although I can probably still do what I have been, just avoid using numbers.

There seems to be quiet a lot of prescription of the activities: The notes are guidance are quiet detailed. This brings me to wonder if the curriculum has been written not from the point of view of what the students should understand, but from the activities that the government would like to see students doing. The worst schemes of work are put together this way, in my experience.

Is it world class? Above all, I don't think that the primary national curriculum is a significant improvement on what we have. To me it does not appear to produce students who will be significantly better than the students I currently inherit from primary schools.

I am quite nervous about the key stage 3 & 4 national curriculum.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. I think there has been a misunderstanding regarding the year on year progression:

    From the PoS:
    "School curriculum
    Each Programme of Study is set out year-by-year in science. All maintained schools are only required to teach the Programme of Study by the end of each key stage. Within each key stage, maintained schools therefore have the flexibility to introduce content
    earlier or later than set out in the Programme of Study. In addition, schools can introduce key stage content during an earlier key stage if appropriate. All schools are also required to set out their school curriculum for science on a yearly basis and make this
    available online."

    > I am quite nervous about the key stage 3 & 4 national curriculum.
    Yup, it's likely to be quite a change.

  2. This is the quote that makes me believe that you can't move on without all the class being ready:

    "We believe that the focus should be on ensuring that all pupils have an appropriate understanding of key elements prior to moving to the next body of content i.e. when they are ‘ready to progress’. We recommend that resources should be prioritised for pupils who have either fallen behind or are identified as at risk of falling behind the rest of the class. We term this approach ‘high expectations for all’ and explain it and its implications in Chapter 8."

    It is from the expert panel report.