You know that the pace of change from a department is too rapid, when it cannot keep up with itself.
Ironically, it is of course the long-drawn out process of National Curriculum drafting that has left us in a position where the finalised documents won’t actually be available until less than a year before they are due to be taught. Now, a year may seem a long time in politics, but it is no time at all when it comes to overhauling, planning and preparing an entire school curriculum. And it seems it is also insufficient time for the DfE’s testing arm – the Standards & Testing Agency – to put in place new assessments.
So, we’re left in the odd situation where a new National Curriculum is due to be in place from September 2014, but new assessment arrangements for KS2 will not be ready for nearly 2 years after that. One might presume that this would imply a staggered start was required for the curriculum – a point I queried directly with the DfE. Today I received an email containing the following clarification:
“Thank you for contacting us about what will be assessed in the National Curriculum tests from 2014. The tests must reflect the current statutory curriculum only, I can confirm that we cannot use anything from the draft curriculum as a basis for test content until 2016 at the earliest. As you mention in your message to us, this will mean that students in the ending Key Stage 2 in 2015 will be taught under the new curriculum for the academic year 2014-15, but assessed under the old curriculum in 2015.”
Several things strike me from this:
- If the tests must reflect the ‘current’ National Curriculum, why are we left in a situation where the current Year 4 cohort will, on reaching Year 6, be taught (at least according to statute) a different curriculum from that on which they will be tested?
- This email says “2016 at the earliest”. Does that mean potentially another cohort or two might face a similar ‘anomaly’?
- The DfE’s consultation in February said that a new consultaton on primary assessment would be issued shortly. It’s not been 4 months. Will further delay to that mean even more years of this nonsense?
- Does the fact that the election date is fixed for 2015 have any bearing on the Departments determination to force through a curriculum for which neither schools nor the STA have time to prepare, I wonder?