Imagine, if you will, the teacher of a mixed-age class in a rural primary school. As with many rural schools, she might have children in Years Four, Five and Six all in one class. There are always challenges across such a range, particularly with Y6 students facing NC testing each year, but as with many rural schools, this teacher works her magic every year.
Now imagine the educational landscape for this practitioner in the years to come.
At present, she teaches from a broad spread of the KS2 National Curriculum (1999) on rotation to meet the needs of her students – although the ICT curriculum has been disapplied. Perhaps she is meant to be doing something substantially different about that, but it isn’t clear what yet.
From September, the whole national curriculum detail will be disapplied for her new Year 4 children. However, the Year 5 and 6 children will still need to be taught the core subjects based on the old curriculum because the new KS2 assessments won’t come into play until after they’ve left primary school. Except the bit about calculators. We’ll ignore that apparently.
So, half a statutory curriculum for 2/3 of the class… and hope for the best with the rest.
Now skip forward to September 2014. All three year groups of children must be taught the content from the new National Curriculum (which we don’t know the detail of yet). But, strangely, the Year 6 children will still be assessed as if they were taught the old curriculum (minus the calculators) when it comes to May 2015.
Are you with me?
Of course, in this year she’s got to teach the Y4 children about Vikings, Saxons & Normans – and hope that they’ve met the Romans while they were in Y3. But the Y5 children need to be learning about the later medieval period and the Tudors so that they’re ready to do the Stuarts in Year 6. Presuming that they somehow picked up the Celts somewhere along the way. And if they’ve done the Victorians already, well they’re just going to do them again in Y9. And let’s hope that Year 4’s don’t overhear the stuff about Tudors because if they do then they won’t absorb the chronology properly. Meanwhile, of course, the Year 6 children will already be racing on through the Stuarts, alongside cramming in the whole of the new maths curriculum to meet whatever yet-to-be-decided assessment arrangements they come up with.
Oh, and let’s not forget that that teacher needs to make sure that all of her curriculum information is available on the school website.
And this is the DfE’s sense of manageable reform?