Full details of national curriculum review

20 Jan 2011

To the smooth saxophone of the school's jazz ensemble, the Education Secretary took to the stage at Twyford CoE school in west London to launch the latest review of the national curriculum.

It was appropriate that he chose a mainstream comprehensive for the launch but it left lingering in the air the question why the promised new, slimmer, essential core curriculum - covering no more than the "fundamentals" - should not also be a requirement in academies.

    The review will - for the first time ever - be run by the Department for Education. In the past, it was always carried out by the arms-length quango in charge of the curriculum. In effect, therefore - for the first time in English history - the national curriculum has been nationalised.

The nitty-gritty of the review will be the setting out of the "core of essential knowledge" that every child should acquire in school. That is the remit of the review team and its Expert Panel led by Tim Oates from Cambridge Assessment. We will have to wait for their conclusions. But some key decisions have been made -- and others hinted at.

  The main changes include:

  • the National Curriculum should  "not absorb the overwhelming majority of teaching time" (although when I asked him to be more specific Mr Gove said it would be wrong to "prescribe" any set percentage of time);
  • it will focus on factual content and essential knowledge not (as in the past, according to Mr Gove) on skills development and "the promotion of generic dispositions");
  • it will not tell teachers how to teach;
  • Academies will retain the freedom to disapply from the national curriculum;
  • English, maths,science and PE will remain compulsory subjects at all key stages from age 5 to 16;
  • Religious Education will remain compulsory but is not part of this review;
  • the review will decide which of the following subjects should continue to be compulsory: art & design, citizenship, design & technology,  geography, history, ICT, modern foreign languages, music;
  • the review will consider whether content should be set out on a year by year basis rather than, at present, by Key Stage;
  • the review will be in two phases;
  • Phase 1 will decide the content of maths, English, science, and PE  with new programmes of Study to be taught from September 2013. It will also decide which other subjects should remain compulsory;
  • the PE curriculum "will set out a clearer expectation that all pupils should play competitive sport" and that all will learn to swim;
  • Phase 2, starting in early 2012, will produce Programmes of Study for all other subjects that the government decides should be compulsory or which should be part of a non-statutory programme;

 For my analysis of the curriculum review for the BBC: www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12243944

 More on the review at: www.education.gov.uk/inthenews/inthenews/a0073152/michael-gove-announces-major-review-of-national-curriculum

 Take part in the consultation: www.education.gov.uk/consultations/index.cfm Closes 14th April 2011.

User Comments

Rob Spence - 20 Jan 2011

National Curriculum

So, if Academies will retain the freedom to disapply from the national curriculum, and the govt wants all schools to become academies, er, what's the point?

Helen Bourton - 20 Jan 2011

school sport

School sport remains a hot topic of conversation - what other subject covers health, academic, lifeskills,sport,ability to compete and fight back , communication, social, volunteering,resilience,Olympics,employment - what a subject- we need to continue the fight to protect it and the SSPs.

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