A new curriculum has been introduced in all local authority schools in England from the start of the Academic year in 2015. This was initiated by the government who wanted the new curriculum not to tell teachers “How to teach”, but concentrates on “the essential knowledge and skills every child should have” so that teachers “have the freedom to shape the curriculum to their pupils’ needs”. The new curriculum covers primary school pupils, aged 4-11, and secondary schools pupils up to the age of 16.

There will be various changes to the content of all subjects in the national curriculum.  For example in Maths students will be expected to learn more at an earlier age, History will take a more chronological approach than under the old curriculum, in English pupils will be required to learn more about Shakespeare from an early age and there will also be more importance placed on spelling. The new computing curriculum will require pupils to learn how to write code, and in Science there will be a shift towards hard facts and ‘Scientific knowledge’.

Although changes in curriculum will benefit schools and pupils in the long run, its also creates more work and added pressure for the teachers, which is something that is already an issue! Some experts have complained the new primary curriculum will require children to cover subjects, particularly in Maths and Science, up to 2 years ahead of their peers in top performing nations, such as pupils will be required to start looking at fractions aged 5-6 however in Finland they don’t start using fractions in schools until they are around 9 years old. Is the new curriculum changing too much too quick? Or asking too much of teachers and pupils in expecting these new requirements to work instantly? We would say yes!  Curriculum changes can cause more issues than benefits for schools as they will have a number of years when students are having work at a much more advanced level than they are originally used to.

For many teachers they can find it frustrating to be dictated to by people who have never worked within education or schools themselves as teachers, as how would they know what works best? Or how to get the best out of students? This is possibly why the government appointed a panel of experts, which included subject specialists and teachers, to help devise the new curriculum. Their brief was to emulate the worlds most successful school systems, including those in Hong Kong and Singapore. The aim was to combine best international practice with best practice from schools in England. It is thought that with the changes in the curriculum students will be leaving school with more qualifications and more basic skills than prior which in turn will help them achieve more after school.

 

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