«July 2013 Contents Introduction 3 Overview of respondents 4 Summary of consultation responses 5 Aims of the national curriculum 5 Programmes of study ...»
Reform of the
Report of the consultation conducted
February – April 2013
Overview of respondents 4
Summary of consultation responses 5
Aims of the national curriculum 5
Programmes of study and attainment targets 6 Replacing the ICT curriculum with a new computing curriculum 11 Impact of the new national curriculum – equalities 12 Views from parents 13 Implementation of the new national curriculum 13 Phasing of implementation and disapplication of aspects of the national curriculum 14 Other comments 15 Next Steps 16 Introduction On 7 February 2013, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education, launched a public consultation on the government’s proposals for the reform of the national curriculum in England. This followed a review of the national curriculum which was launched
in January 2011 with the following aims:
to ensure that the new national curriculum embodies rigour and high standards and creates coherence in what is taught in schools to ensure that all children are taught the essential knowledge in the key subject disciplines beyond that core, to allow teachers greater freedom to use their professionalism and expertise to help all children realise their potential.
The consultation sought views on the following proposals:
changes to the programmes of study and attainment targets for all subjects and key stages (except for key stage 4 English, mathematics and science, on which there will be a separate consultation later this year) overarching and subject level aims for the new national curriculum replacing the ICT programme of study with a new computing programme of study the equalities impact of the reforms the implementation of the new national curriculum the disapplication of aspects of the existing national curriculum for a limited period from September 2013, to give schools greater flexibility to prepare to teach the new national curriculum.
The consultation closed on 16 April 2013 and received over 17,000 written responses from a wide range of respondents including headteachers, teachers, teaching unions, colleges and universities, subject associations, local authorities, employers, parents and young people.
Changing ICT to computing and disapplying aspects of the existing national curriculum from September 2013 On 3 May 2013, the government confirmed its intention to proceed with its proposal to replace the existing ICT curriculum with a new computing curriculum and to disapply aspects of the existing national curriculum from September 2013 to support the transition to the new curriculum. Consultation reports summarising the views expressed on each issue can be found here for ICT and here for disapplication. Consideration of consultation responses in relation to these proposals was prioritised to ensure that schools could be notified of the changes as soon as possible and start to benefit from the freedoms that will be afforded to them during the period of disapplication from the beginning of the 2013/14 academic year. A summary of those responses is included in this report for completeness.
Overview of respondents There were 17,312 responses to the national curriculum consultation document. Of these, over 12,700 related to campaigns in support of a range of issues including: teaching about climate change, conservation and the environment; schools trips; cycling safety; and lifesaving skills. A number of subject-specific campaigns were also identified in response to the draft programmes of study for citizenship, design and technology, history and physical education. Although the arguments presented have been considered as part of the consultation process, these responses have not been reflected in the statistical breakdown in this report.
As some questions invited multiple responses, total percentages listed under any one question may exceed 100%. Throughout the report, percentages are expressed as a proportion of those answering each question (excluding campaign responses as above), and not as a proportion of all respondents.
The organisational breakdown of respondents was as follows:
Those listed within the ‘other’ category include: those respondents who did not specify a type; those who wanted to remain anonymous; charities; and training organisations.
Summary of consultation responses Aims of the national curriculum Question 1: Do you have any comments on the proposed aims for the national curriculum as a whole as set out in the framework document?
There were 2,469 responses to this question.
465 (19%) respondents stated that they liked the aims. Respondents believed that the aims were sound and would allow schools and teachers greater freedom to create an appropriate and ambitious curriculum.
901 (36%) respondents believed that the aims of the national curriculum were too focused on knowledge and that there should be greater emphasis on the importance of skills. Some of these respondents raised the importance of ensuring that pupils are able to understand and apply their knowledge and emphasised the importance of the enjoyment of learning for all pupils.
458 (19%) respondents felt that the proposed aims were vague and that further clarification was needed. Some of these respondents felt that further guidance would be helpful, particularly on how much time the national curriculum should take to be delivered. Some respondents felt that there was a risk that some foundation subjects would be marginalised due to the amount of content and lack of guidance on teaching time.
Question 2: Do you agree that instead of detailed subject level aims we should free teachers to shape their own curriculum aims based on the content in the programmes of study?
There were 3,638 responses to this question
Respondents who agreed with the proposal to remove subject level aims largely believed that it should be the role of teachers to define curriculum aims and were in favour of minimal central prescription. Others felt that the aims added little value to the programmes of study and should therefore be removed. Some respondents criticised the particular aims proposed or raised concerns that the subject content did not reflect the aims, rather than raising concerns of principle.
Respondents who disagreed with the proposal and felt that subject level aims should be retained, believed that the aims would help schools, parents and pupils to understand the intended outcomes of the programmes of study and inform teaching and curriculum planning.
Others wanted to retain subject aims to support consistency in curriculum planning and teaching across different schools and, in particular, to support progression from primary to secondary school and inform approaches to assessment.
Of those responding in relation to one subject only (1,641), those responding in relation to design and technology (366) and history (437) made up 49% of responses. Respondents on art and design, citizenship, design and technology, mathematics and physical education were more likely to disagree than agree that subject level aims should left to teachers to design.
Respondents on English, geography, history and languages were the most likely to agree rather than disagree that subject level aims should be left to teachers.
Some of the respondents who answered ‘not sure’ believed that clear aims were necessary for core subjects2 but were less essential for foundation3 subjects. Others stated that although subject aims were not necessary, it was essential to have some guidance to provide greater clarity on subject content. There was also a concern that without further guidance some teachers, both inexperienced and experienced, could struggle to teach to the required standards.
Programmes of study and attainment targets Question 3: Do you have any comments on the content set out in the draft programmes of study?
There were 3,682 responses to this question.
Art and design The brevity of the draft programmes of study was welcomed as it would give teachers greater freedom to innovate and inspire their pupils. Some respondents were pleased to see a renewed emphasis on the place of drawing in the curriculum content. Others advocated greater breadth and the inclusion of a broader range of art and design practice in the curriculum. Some respondents also referenced the importance of the creative and media industries to the nation’s economy.
Citizenship The inclusion of personal financial education in citizenship was welcomed but there was a desire to see this broadened out to include education about public spending. There was also support for more explicit references to teaching about human rights and international humanitarian law. Some respondents argued that this content should be covered in the national curriculum generally, whereas others argued it should be covered within citizenship specifically.
Computing The inclusion of computer science and the programming content of the draft programmes of study were widely supported. Some respondents felt that there was insufficient coverage of wider elements of the subject, including digital skills, the application of technologies in business contexts and the impact of technologies on individuals and wider society. Others suggested that there should be more explicit reference to creativity across the curriculum Core subjects are English, mathematics and science.
Foundation subjects are art and design, citizenship, computing, design and technology, geography, history, languages, music and PE.
content. Respondents largely welcomed the focus on e-safety in key stages 1 and 2, but some also called for the inclusion of e-safety at key stages 3 and 4.
Design and technology Although some respondents welcomed the emphasis on food and cooking in the draft programmes of study and the broadening of content to areas like horticulture, other responses were more critical of the draft. Respondents commented that the proposals did not match the overall aspirations for the national curriculum and lacked intellectual and practical rigour. They expressed a desire for a greater focus on innovation and problem-solving and the use of more demanding modern technology and processes, and stronger links to mathematics and science. Respondents also suggested that activities such repair and maintenance were considered old-fashioned.
English Respondents largely focused on the draft programmes of study for primary English. There was support for the recognition of the importance spoken language within the national curriculum framework document, but respondents called for greater emphasis through the inclusion of a discrete strand on speaking and listening within English specifically.
Respondents welcomed the focus on developing a love of reading amongst pupils at primary level and at key stage 3. There was recognition that the teaching of phonics, punctuation, spelling and grammar was necessary, but some felt that there was an over-emphasis on these aspects. Some respondents also expressed a desire to see more explicit references to drama and called for it to have a separate programme of study.
Geography The response to the draft programmes of study for geography was broadly positive, with many welcoming the increased rigour and focus on human, physical and locational geography. There were a number of campaigns supporting the explicit inclusion of climate change in the curriculum and arguing for greater coherence between the science and geography curricula in this respect. There was also a desire expressed for sustainability and conservation to be included in the geography curriculum, particularly in relation to caring for the environment at key stages 1 and 2.
History History received the largest number of responses of all the national curriculum subjects.
Respondents raised a range of issues which included a concern that teaching history chronologically would not allow teachers to revisit certain periods or consolidate learning effectively. Some of these respondents argued that if chronology was the preferred method of presentation then it should be reversed so that young children could start with more recent history which would be more relevant and accessible for them. It was noted, however, that the prescription of a very rigid chronological structure could be problematic for small rural schools with mixed age classes.
Some respondents thought that there was too great a focus on British history. Others felt that there was too much content which could lead to superficial learning rather than promoting a deep understanding of history. Some respondents commented that the content was too prescriptive and fact-focused, which might limit teachers’ ability to shape the curriculum to pupils’ needs and interests.
A number of respondents also expressed concern about the likely impact of changing curriculum content at key stages 2 and 3 on the use of museums and heritage centres for school trips.
Languages The introduction of languages at key stage 2 was widely welcomed, although many respondents argued for changes to the associated list of prescribed languages. These proposed changes included support for the inclusion of other languages such as Hebrew and Japanese, questions about the relevance of ancient languages, and the suggestion that schools should have a free choice of which language to teach.
Mathematics The response to the draft programmes of study for mathematics was mixed. The aims and the greater focus on rigour and depth received widespread support, although there was concern that the draft content was too challenging for lower-achieving pupils. At primary, the greater emphasis on number was broadly welcomed, although there was concern among some that pupils could be accelerated through new content before they had established a secure understanding. Some respondents criticised the requirement for pupils to be taught efficient written methods of arithmetic. Some also felt that the content lacked sufficient focus on problem solving and mathematical reasoning. Others supported the use of calculators for children below the age of nine and a few respondents also questioned the inclusion of the twelve times table and Roman numerals.