By complete chance (one presumes), today I received two responses from the Department for Education on entirely unrelated matters.
Firstly, to the matter of the Curriculum Cock-Ups I mentioned last month.
It turns out, the inclusion of the 900-1300 dates in the Benin listing in the new National Curriculum wasn’t so much a cock-up as a bodge job! The department passed on a comment from “the chair of an expert group” set up to examine the first draft, and suggest improvements. This stated that the reason for the inclusion of Benin at all was “to show schools that already study Benin that they can continue to do so”. The reason, though, for the selection of the (frankly quite dull and hard-to-teach) early 900-1300 period was an attempt “to preserve the chronological structure of the programmes of study”
In essence, it wasn’t a mistake… it was just a bad compromise. Just what we need for a statutory curriculum for our nation’s schools.
The response also points out that schools are free to teach beyond 1300, which rather emphasises the nonsense of specifying the period in the first place.
So now we know.
In another matter, it seems that further evidence of ill-thought-through legislation has left a bit of an unclear area in expectations for school websites. From this month schools have been required to publish the curriculum for every year group online. It has never been clear what form or what level of detail is required, but also the documentation was unclear whether this related only to National Curriculum year groups, or whether it would need to include the Reception/Early Years phase.
My second response from the DfE indicates that they hadn’t really thought it through themselves. The response from the DfE lawyers states that “there is nothing in the drafting to indicate that this is restricted by age or year group” and that therefore they “think the requirement under Regulation 10 would also apply to that Reception year” (my emphasis)
Of course, this fails to take into account that the regulations actually specify that what should be published is “the content of the curriculum followed by the school for each subject” (my emphasis again). Now, aside from the fact that the Early Years curriculum is much harder to pin down than the content of the National Curriculum, it seems to overlook the fact that there aren’t officially “subjects” in the EYFS, so quite what is meant to be published isn’t clear.
What’s more, if the requirement probably extends to Reception, then should it also apply to maintained nurseries? Does it also extend to sixth forms?
Or had the department not really thought it through before announcing that it would happen?