Immediate Thoughts on Mr Gove’s new Proposed curriculum

Channel 4 have kindly uploaded to you tube Michael Gove’s  9 minute statement to parliament …..

Michael Gove has not got his way on curriculum change in school, or has he? Okay there will not be a single exam board for each subject (but this step down is only due to being told it wouldn’t pass EU regulations on procurement).

There will be linear exams only and internal assessments and exam aids will only be used in extremis  (2 minutes in)

There will be no more higher and foundation tiers (about 2: 50 minutes ) so i am presuming there will be a one paper only for all approach. However it seems the more able will be able to sit ‘extension papers’. does this mean that AG&T students will be sitting longer and more exams than everyone else? (3:12)

There will be new GCSEs in English, Maths, Science ,History and Geography (called the core academic subjects) ready for teaching in 2015. these will bring about a ‘swift and significant rise in standards equipping young people with the knowledge they need”. This sounds ominously like his idea for a return to O’Levels by the backdoor.

He is going to get rid of the measuring schools by how many pupils get 5 A* – C passes (3:55). This, I must say, I completely agree with.It has always greatly irked me that pupils on the C/D borderline got more assistance from their school than those predicted either higher or lower grades. As Michael Gove says this should now mean that “the achievements of all pupils is now recognised equally.” (5:30). However I await to see how his point score system of “how pupils have progressed from KS2 to KS4” (4:46) actually works. Again, this seems to be EBacc by the back door, as it will include “at least 3 of the 4 EBacc subjects” (4:57) So schools will still be making pupils choose certain subjects as a priority, even if 3 other subjects are now included in this new measure.

The new draft National Curriculum for the 21st century (6:02) is out today. Of course, it is too early to respond to this as a whole. All subjects have been retained, which I know is a relief to those who teach Citizenship as a separate subject in their school. also the idea that the statutory national curriculum should only form part of the whole school curriculum may seem somewhat ironic by history teachers when they see the long chronological list of events and people they have to cover. For a subject that currently has equal weighting with Geography in most schools, they now have 3 times as many pages to describe their curriculum.

He has stripped out any mentions of “how to teach” (7:25), yet has instructed teachers on a core of what to teach in each subject (capital cities in geography for instance).

But if you teach in an academy can you ignore all of these core topics and teach what you want anyway?

Also where are the national curriculum levels?

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As a Geography teacher I disagree with the EBacc

So schools are measured on 5 A*-A  including English and Maths and this has turned into the EBacc. One of these five has to be a humanity of either History or Geography, but not RS. This should mean more people choosing Geography GCSE and therefore a higher profile for my subject. You would think I would be delighted.

I am not.

Pupils need a rounded and full education, one they can engage with and want to be a part of; one that excites and helps them grow into useful, thoughtful and caring adults. If you give people a choice based on a 50 year old society full of dates and capital cities, grammar tests and recall, then there will be much less engagement with learning and as a result many more adults in future years with less to offer society. A restrictive curriculum that interests only a minority is a backward step.

Additionally, the prioritising of some subjects over others divides the staff room and creates an unnecessary heirarchy in schools. Most staff begin to realise that because the government doesn’t rate their subject as important as others neither does OFSTED. And if OFSTED values it less, so will headteachers, and if the school cares less for your subject that will seep through to pupils and parents.  So you are left on the fringes.

This is happening to Geography even tough we are within the magical Ebacc ring fence. Pupils are taken out of our lessons for extra maths and English revision classes. They miss content and teaching they rarely care to catch up on. There is no recourse “It is best for the pupil.” we are told. Or even worse, “You should plan for this sort of thing, pupils missing lessons before your exam is no reason why your results arent as good as they should have been. It is your responsibility to overcome this.”

Now if that is occurring to Geography for the benefit of English and Maths, heaven knows what is happening nationally to other more marginalised subjects. I want to be part of a rounded and full education system. I dont want Geography to be king or rather part of the court of ‘Queen EnglishMaths’. there are many pupils for whom my subject does not rate as important or interesting and they should be allowed to choose other subjects that are equally as valued, funded and supported as every other area in the curriculum.

If Headteachers and staff allow our curriculum to be segregated in this way then the quality of education being delivered and received, the teaching and learning in our classrooms will deteriote and morale in the staffroom will fall further. the NAHT and NUT have a joint petition on the matter if you would like to sign it then please go to http://www.ebaccpetition.org.uk