The not so new curriculum
5 Sept 2014
Back to school headlines this week have had an added frisson of excitement: this is the official launch of the new, tougher curriculum with harder tests and higher expectations, which teachers feel are unrealistic.
But it’s not really that black and white. In fact, according to a survey we ran amongst primary school teachers back in April, just under half had already started rolling out the new curriculum. And not all children will be taught to the new curriculum even now: those in Y2 & Y6 will be taking the ‘old’ SATs tests, so for them, it’s lessons as usual. As one of our teachers said, implementing the new curriculum is “an ongoing journey, not a destination.”
In fact, the big change with this spin of the curriculum wheel is that, while schools have been told what to do, they’ve not been told how they should do it. This is a real shift from previous initiatives: the literacy and numeracy strategies, for example, were launched with heavily scripted teaching plans and oodles of wraparound training from now mainly under-resourced local authorities. Large numbers of Schoolzone teachers are genuinely excited by the chance to develop a creative, tailored curriculum which reflects the needs of their children, although it is true that this is tempered with apprehension about change. Understandably.
So September marks an important milestone in the launch of the new curriculum, but isn’t the end goal.
The key message is that innovation can only take place if teachers have the time to reflect, discuss and experiment. For the next few years, the most effective education strategy might be to leave teachers to get on with it.
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