“The ‘basic’ school curriculum includes the ‘National Curriculum’, as well as religious education and sex education. The National Curriculum is a set of subjects and standards used by primary and secondary schools so that all children learn the same things. It covers which subjects are taught and the standards children should reach in each subject.
Other types of schools like academies and private schools don’t have to follow the National Curriculum. Academies must teach a broad and balanced curriculum including English, maths and science. They must also teach religious education”. (gov.uk)
In September 2014 the New Curriculum was introduced, we must know numerous educational changes in order to provide quality education to our students, as well as follow government guidelines. It’s introduction had an exception, children from Year 2 and 6 were allow to remain on the original National Curriculum, because it seemed quite unfair that children did their last exams of their Key Stage when they had been studying so many years with previous one. But this exception is now gone. From September 2015 all, from year 1 to year 6, are on the new curriculum.
The National Curriculum is organised into blocks of years called ‘key stages’ (KS). At the end of each key stage, the teacher will formally assess his/her students performance to measure a child’s progress.
With the new National Curriculum Key Stage levels are no longer part of the educational landscape, so we don’t have levelling any more. Children in years 2 and 6 will be the last to receive an end-of-key-stage ‘level’, in summer 2015”. Instead, students will start sitting the new national primary curriculum tests in 2016. From 2016 at the end of year exams (key stage 2 and 3) children will have what are called scaled scores instead of levelling.
I have tried to summarise the most important features of the new National Curriculum in order to make it easier to understand and to instill confidence in foreign teachers in the English education field, so that we can be as competent as native teachers.
- The government wants to pull together a whole school curriculum, from the age of 5 to 14.
- Heavy emphasis on the non-academic side of education, such as every child should be taught to swim or to take part in volunteer organizations in Secondary Education.
- Music. The government wants every child to play an instrument.
- Learning a Modern Foreign Language has become compulsory in Key Stage 2.That is why primary schools are now looking for MFL teachers. So if you are a modern foreign language teacher, you are lucky.
- The Program of Study that teachers used to have which helped them define how and what to teach, have been drastically cut. There is no document telling teachers how they have to do their job. You now have to know what the school does or what the expectations are, but the government doesn’t tell you how do it. Great for freedom.
- There are some restrictions on the implementation on the management. For example, schools in special measures will not be allowed to decide themselves what they are going to do. Their autonomy is removed from them and they will be told what they will have to do.
- Key Skills (conversation, listening or writing skills) age-appropriate. This point is a good resource for supply teachers because sometimes we don’t feel confident enough with the subject you are covering. Perhaps, you are an MFL teacher and have to cover a geography teacher and you don’t have the necessary knowledge here. What they are saying is it isn’t now just about score curriculum, so you can focus on key skill in this lesson.
- Emphasis on spoken language is something the government is determined to make. They will be producing guidelines for spoken language.
- It is also about writing and reading in every subject. There should be an element of writing and reading included.
- Developing fluency in every relevant subject. Emphasis on the uses of specific subject vocabulary and understanding in the real world.
- What they don’t want to see is mixing up physics, chemistry and biology. In this instance they don’t want a cross curriculum.
- Schools have autonomy in assessment attainment. In terms of assessment the government’s position is very clear, there is no national assessments model and no national strategy. So schools can keep their previous model or create their own assessment.So you as a teacher won’t be sure about what a school is doing until you ask them their assessment method system and policy and your role within it. By the end of each Key Stage you are expected to know, apply and understand, skill and processes.
- In terms of inclusion it is about participation and achievement for all learners and recognising barriers to learning. Schools must ensure challenging and high quality teaching. For supply, schools should give you necessary information (planning, resources, etc) allowing you to deliver your lesson. However, it is quite possible that if you are there anything longer than a couple of days, you have to plan and be aware of inclusion and SEN.
- Core subjects: mathematics, sciences and English. There is a requirement with objetives for each year and Key Stage.
- Extra-curricular activities (ECA) are activities that take place outside regular class teaching and yet are related to student learning. As such, they fall within the scope of the school curriculum. The government expects that schools and teachers provide additional support. For example, through after school club or lunch time club.
TIP 1! If you are a specialist teacher looking for a job in a primary school, now is your moment. Primary school are clamouring for people with specialist subject knowledge because the requirement in primary schools has been increased enormously.
TIP 3! Have a look in the New curriculum and find out the Key Skills. It can help when you are a supply, you don’t control the subject and the planning isn’t there. Don’t panic, focus on Key skills.
TIP 4! Find out the specific curriculum of your subject. In the following link you will find all programs of study by subject.
Teachers are now the ones transforming schools and transforming education in this country. You are part of that. Feel it and you will do a fantastic job.