Five year olds will start tackling fractions and computer algorithms, as a more stretching national curriculum is announced for state schools in England.
The government says the curriculum changes are designed to catch up with the world’s best education systems.
Prime Minister David Cameron says this “revolution in education” is vital for the country’s economic prosperity.
Labour said the curriculum should be written by experts and not depend on ministers’ “personal prejudices”.
Teachers’ unions have warned that the timetable for implementing the changes in autumn 2014 is “completely unrealistic”.
Head teachers have also asked whether politicians should be so directly involved in deciding what is taught in the classroom.
The re-written national curriculum sets out the framework for what children in England’s state schools should be taught between the ages of five and 14.
However, academies – which are now a majority of secondary schools – will not be required to follow the curriculum.
“This is a curriculum that is rigorous, engaging and tough,” said the prime minister.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said the changes to the curriculum were necessary to keep pace with the achievement of pupils in other countries.
“No national curriculum can be modernised without paying close attention to what’s been happening in education internationally,” said Mr Gove.
He cited Hong Kong, Massachusetts, Singapore and Finland as “the world’s most successful school systems”.
The new-look curriculum puts a stronger emphasis on skills such as “essay writing, problem-solving, mathematical modelling and computer programming”.
Here are some key changes to the curriculum, separated by subject;
The history curriculum takes primary pupils through British history from the stone age to the Normans. They can also study a later era, such as the Victorians. “Significant individuals” studied include Elizabeth 1st, Neil Armstrong, Rosa Parks and suffragette Emily Davison. Secondary schools will teach British history from 1066 to 1901, followed by Britain, Europe and world events from 1901, including the Holocaust and Winston Churchill. This is a less detailed curriculum than an earlier draft, no longer including Clive of India, Wolfe or a reference to economic changes up to the election of Margaret Thatcher.
Maths will expect more at an earlier age. There will be a requirement for pupils to learn their 12 times table by the age of nine. Basic fractions, such as half or a quarter, will be taught to five year olds.
English will strengthen the importance of Shakespeare, with pupils between the ages of 11 and 14 expected to have studied two of his plays. Word lists for 8 and 9 year olds include “medicine” and “knowledge”, by 10 and 11 they should be spelling “accommodate” and “rhythm”.
Science will shift towards a stronger sense of hard facts and “scientific knowledge”. In primary school, there will be new content on the solar system, speed and evolution. In secondary school, there will be a clearer sense of separate subjects of physics, biology and chemistry. Climate change will also be included.
Design and technology is linked to innovation and digital industries. Pupils will learn about 3D printing and robotics.
Computing will teach pupils how to write code. Pupils aged five to seven will be expected to “understand what algorithms are” and to “create and debug simple programs”. By the age of 11, pupils will have to “design, use and evaluate computational abstractions that model the state and behaviour of real-world problems and physical systems”.
I’m not going to hold back on this one. I find this a load of drivel. Why teach all this to a young kid who is just learning about the world around them. Not everyone is going to go into robotics, although we’re practically turning the kids into robots. The world ‘algorithm’ is going to scare the hell out of 5 year old kids who are only just learning basic grammar at that point. I never understood Shakespeare, and never got the point of studying something that is 400 years out of date. Our language has moved on an awful long way compared to then, and children will not be able to understand the old language. I wonder how many teachers understand it, where’s a study when you need one …
This curriculum is clearly ignoring the people who actually know a thing or two about education and put together by a bunch of politicians with no experience. I would be very surprised if some teachers don’t leave their job or there is a sudden crash in young people interested in teaching.
All I can say is I hope Labour win the next Election in 2015 and we revert back to the right path with respect to our curriculum. For once I might actually vote during the election too. Just think if this happens, then it will only be 1 year of trouble for the teachers to go through.
Is anyone out there pleased with the new curriculum? Or are you guys just as disappointed as me? Comment, like and share 🙂