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Life BEFORE the National Curriculum

Discussion in 'Education news' started by JosieWhitehead, Mar 16, 2016.

  1. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    I will be one of the very few teachers who remembers how life was before the National Curriculum in schools, in the 1970s. We moved from the Midlands to Wiltshire with my husband's work. Our daughter went to a new school in Chippenham and complained bitterly that she was put on "baby" work. When I looked into the matter, our 9 year old daughter was now doing at this school work that she had already covered between 6 and 7 years of age in her last school, and this was in both English and maths in this school. When I complained, I was told by the headmaster that she could just move to another school if I wasn't satisfied. I sat in classrooms for the same age groups in 7 different schools and the levels of learning were huge. An 11 year old would have been put in a low class at secondary school, not because of his/her ability, but because they had not covered the work required for the new school. We had an open meeting (1978) and Wiltshire Education discovered that what I said was correct. "Guidelines" were brought in so that levels of learning were more or less the same in each school because others had experienced the same as us. These huge variations in what was being taught at each age in various schools meant that when children came into a school from other areas, they would fit in easily with the new school as regards what they had or had not learned. Scrapping the National Curriculum could mean that we go back to those days again - - - or not? What do you think?
  2. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    The National Curriculum doesn't prescribe in which year all topics must be done, only the key stage - so how has the NC prevented the situation you describe?

    Indeed, it has been possible possible (as a child) to move schools and find yourself doing the self same topic in Y6 that you did in Y5, e.g. ancient Egypt.

    It's done far, far more harm than anyone could possibly have imagined - not least the fact that the overloading of topics in the primary curriculum (for all subjects) has led to them being taught and not embedded, so not learnt.
    schoolsout4summer likes this.
  3. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    Thanks for this. It's interesting to hear the other side of the story - but before, it really was a nightmare if you had to move your child from one school to another because of the LEVELS of learning that you found. My daughter was off reading schemes when she left, but in her new school they were still on them at an early level - and this was for 9 year olds. I went into another school and found they were reading fluently quite difficult books however. Teachers had no guidance at all it seemed to me and so you never knew what to expect from school to school - no guidelines for each key stage - nothing at all! It was a terrible situation.
  4. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    But that's to do with reading schemes, which are not part of the NC - it's to do with the reading policy of each school.
  5. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    I'm not sure the issues you raise have been dealt with by the NC. I taught pre NC, and particularly remember moving from a school in an affluent area with supportive parents to one on an overspill housing estate with 'challenging' pupils & dysfunctional families. The year group I was involved with was the same (Y5), but in the second school I had almost half the class with a reading age below 7 - and this reflected their overall ability and knowledge. It took me a while to adjust to pitching my lessons correctly to enable these children to make progress, whilst also stretching the average & more able. I had to differentiate far more in this school than in the first school. At the end of the day, it's down to the teacher to meet the needs of his/her pupils whatever their ability.

    The NC hasn't prevented this wide spread of achievement, but has put pressure on teachers to push all children through hoops whether or not they're ready for them, and in so doing has done many pupils a disservice. In its original incarnation, too (13 subject folders for primary, I think) there was so much CONTENT that nothing was ever taught properly.
    wanet and Middlemarch like this.
  6. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Absolutely correct.

    There were 17 folders in secondary...
    wanet and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  7. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    Ah, yes, but every primary teacher had 13 folders, with 13 subjects to teach...or perhaps I exaggerate: English, maths, science, art & design, music, design technology, history, geography, PE, ICT........OK, perhaps 10, plus RE & PHSCE. Whatever, the folders took up a LOT of space!
    Middlemarch likes this.
  8. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    I wasn't trying to compete - I thought maybe you'd underestimated the number you had!
    chelsea2 likes this.
  9. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    Whichever phase, it was always too much, too soon and too content-driven!

    Mind, compared with the current NC, it was fantastic!
  10. inceywincey

    inceywincey Occasional commenter

    That's right all those coloured folders. They arrived in the summer to teach in September. The teacher in the room next to me labelled all her displays with the relevant objective numbers.
  11. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    We moved to a new area (Chippenham) and my daughter aged 9 started a new school. Six months into her time there she was ill and. to catch up with what the others had been doing, she came home with this homework: Colouring four aeroplanes on a page and writing in a box at the top of the page how many aeroplanes there were. (Maths). For English she came home with a reading book (The Three Bears) and a picture on one page and one simple sentence on the other. She was 18 months off going to a secondary school! While they were doing this, in another school, which I visited, the children were fluently reading from one of the classic books. This is how the difference in the levels of work could be before changes were made. Perhaps the National Curriculum had nothing to do with it, but something needed to be changed with regards to this situation, surely.

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