The New Curriculum is here … oh joy …

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 🙂

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3 thoughts on “The New Curriculum is here … oh joy …

  1. With reference to your statement that children will be scared of ‘algorithms’,children tend to react to things in a way that reflects how they are presented to them. They are learning lots of new words, why should this one cause them any more problems or fear than any other?

    I suspect the reality is that many teachers are scared of the word, and indeed many of the ideas in this subject.

    A level of apprehension is warranted, after all most primary subjects being taught are things the teachers themselves learned at school, most will not have learnt computing further than some very basic introductory elements in ICT. However, I don’t think we should be limited by what teachers feel comfortable with. There is a clear need for professional learning in this area, and no doubt many courses and books will spring up to clue teachers up on it.

    I, as many other teachers, went into teaching because I love learning. Whilst there are practical challenges to be solved in making sure every teacher who has to teach computing develops the necessary knowledge and skills I see no reason why the need to learn something new should result in fear, and I think it would be unjust to transmit this fear to children learning this new subject.

    Given your criticism of the new curriculum I would be interested to read what broad approaches you think are wrong as well as the specifics you have discussed. I would also be interested in your thoughts on what a curriculum put together but people ‘who know a thing or two about education’ and you felt was fit for purpose might look like.

    1. Oliver, whilst the algorithms word in itself is just the same as any other words, how many 5 year olds do you know who has any idea what that word means? I doubt even Pete’s son who has a lot of experience in technology already will know what that is. So think about the kids who are disadvantaged and will not have all this technology around them. They will not have a chance of learning this at that age. At only 5 years old, disadvantaged children are still learning monosyllabic words and in some cases still the sounds that the letters make. Bombarding these children with technological language isn’t going to help matters, and it certainly won’t inspire children into a love of learning.

      The biggest problem I have with a lot of this is that the disadvantaged children are going to be left behind. The government has been saying a lot since it came into power that it wants to deal with the attainment gap, well surely leaving those behind is going to increase it, not lessen it?

      I don’t mean to cause offense to you as I know you love technology, but how much of this technology are we really using, and do we really need all this technology? I finished primary school when IWB’s were becoming the ‘in thing’. None of these ipads and whatever you can fit a USB port into were there, and i produced an above average set of GCSEs. I know the basics of how to work with a computer and I don’t really need any more than that. So why are we bombarding robotics and programming on children, whom may or may not have any interest in it? Are we heading towards a world where robots do all our work for us or something?

      My idea of a curriculum would be to learn about things that will prepare us for life. There are a lot of things we learn in school that some of us never use again, particularly in maths. I don’t remember ever needing to use simultaneous equations in the past few years as an example. So why not teach them maths that they will need, like how to plan a journey from Plymouth to Wimborne (my hometown) and work out the costs etc, something that anyone who has travelled will need to know. I don’t remember ever using Shakespearian language in any conversation I’ve had over my lifetime.

      It has been an interesting move by the government to make maths learning a little faster though, because there are a few things in maths currently that concern me. For example when teaching multiplication, we start by teaching the Grid method, then say to children ‘oh but that’s not the best way, the best way is the column method’, completely ignoring the fact that not every child will enjoy the column method. I’m surprised the FOIL method which is used is secondary algebra dealing with quadratic equations hasn’t made an appearance in primary school. This will certainly make secondary education seem easier to progress to.

      The last thing that really concerns me is how quick this is being rushed on us. I will graduate in the year all these changes are due to come in, so unless all the resources that the government expect us to use are in place, it’s going to be a difficult transition. I get the feeling that the government are trying to look at everyone else’s education system and try and quickly put it in to make it look like progress. If this had taken a few years to put in place, then they could be sure that everything will be ready for teachers and this lack of satisfaction and confidence among teachers could have been avoided. Of course this won’t happen because of the election in 2015. This is why i hate the fact that education is political, it is decided upon by people like Michael Gove who has no experience in education whatsoever. If he had experience in education and understood how children learn or could be learning then fine, but this sort of things happens without it. So for me if we are going to continue with a political education, we need the right people in politics to do it.

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