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New National Curriculum

Discussion in 'History' started by dasboy, Feb 7, 2013.

  1. gogojonny

    gogojonny New commenter

    Excellent post. Children may enjoy primary history, they may enjoy little tasks like writing a letter home as an evacuee, but are they learning the key facts about the period of time in question?
  2. Of course, in primary, we could just say this at the start of term..

    "Good morning, children. A long time ago, people arrived in England. They built Stonehenge and used stone, bronze and iron. Some were Celts. Then came the Romans with Caesar (55BC), Augustus (43AD) and Claudius and Britain was part of the Roman Empire, which eventually fell. Then Britain was settled by Angles, Saxons and Vikings who formed seven kingdoms (the Heptarchy). Christianity spread and we had kings like Alfred (who burnt the cakes), Athelstan (the first real king of England), Canute (who commanded the tide to halt) and Edward the Confessor (who was pious). When Edward died (1066), there was the Norman Conquest and the Domesday Book and feudalism and culture. After them were the Plantagenets: Henry II had trouble with Thomas Becket and another had trouble with Simon de Montfort who set up the first parliament. Meanwhile there were the Crusades. England fought Wales (with Llywelyn and Dafydd ap Gruffydd), Scotland (William Wallace and Robert Bruce) and France (the Hundred Years War 1337-1453) a lot. In the 14th century there was chivalry, the Black Death and the Peasants revolt. Later on there was Chaucer and the revival of learning and Wycliffe?s Bible, Caxton and the printing press and the Wars of the Roses (1455-1485, with Warwick the Kingmaker). After that came the Tudors, which had religious strife including the Reformation under Henry VII, Edward VI and Mary. Then came Elizabeth I and English expansion overseas including the New World and the plantation of Ireland. England fought Spain, and Shakespeare and Marlowe wrote stuff. England and Scotland joined under the Stuarts and then King and Parliament had a war, ending with Cromwell?s parliament, the Levellers and the Diggers and then the monarchy was restored. After a bit, there was the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London (1666), Samuel Pepys wrote stuff and the Royal Navy was established. Finally, came the Glorious Revolution (1688), which established constitutional monarchy and the union of the parliaments. Ok, children, now we've covered Mr Gove's ******** curriculum, we can get back to the Egyptians and have some fun while doing some real learning."
    You see, the curriculum doesn't say how deep we need to go, just to teach them about key dates, events and individuals, providing children with a "frame of reference" for deeper study.
  3. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    How can they write a letter home as an evacuee if they don't understand the process of evacuation? If they don't understand the context of the event?

    More to the point, do you imagine that if we got rid of the letter-writing and engaging elements that suddenly History teaching would become more formal and somehow better? Of course it won't - it will virtually disappear. The only reason History gets given as much time as it does in most primary schools these days (and I realise even that isn't huge!) is because it can be used as a vehicle for teaching elements of English. No school gets judged on its students understanding of the complexities of appeasement. But if in their letter about being an evacuee they can show an appropriate use of language, punctuation, etc., then it may well help them to achieve the all-important level for KS2 accountability.

    Of course, in an ideal world, History teaching in primary schools would be a perfect balance of skills, knowledge and understanding, and would provide a broadly-based background for future study of all areas of history, but reality isn't quite like that.

    And for those of us from the pre-NC days, surely the broad coverage of Victorias, WWII, Tudors and Romans has got to be better than what went before. The only history I recall from my primary days was a project on a castle near us, and finding out about Captain Cook.
  4. Tafkam, Im not sure its fair to condemn Gove if he is trying to make a more ideal world - surely that's his job? Perhaps it is worth trying to ensure more history is taught at primary level and maybe current priorities should be changed? There is no problem with history content being used to deliver literacy teaching, of course it is used for this. The argument is over whether children need to be taught more content as part of the curriculum than they currently are and specifically if they are taught enough history content.
    The general reasoning behind these reforms is that research on comprehension is clear. Good comprehension is very largely the product of having domain specific knowledge on the area. Therefore a content rich curriculum leads to higher levels of comprehension and wide knowledge is also key if children are to develop crucial skills such as the ability to think critically.
    As a history teacher I also think it is right that children get a sense of chronology through their teaching that is currently very much lacking.
  5. Regards the evacuee letter I have no reason to think you are not at pains to give the children some real context. I am far from convinced this is a general priority in primary schools. It certainly isn't when these sort of tasks are set in some secondary schools....
  6. Morninglover

    Morninglover Lead commenter

    On a wet, windy Sunday February evening that comment made me laugh out loud - thanks for that. I'll be using it in the staffroom tomorrow to cheer up my colleagues!

  7. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    But my point remains the same. Where does Gove imagine the time for this additional content teaching will come from? Nothing has been removed from the curriculum, much more has been added. What should go?
    And do you also believe that the only way of developing a sense of chronology is by learning things in order? Let me assure you, the average 9-year-old will not be able to differentiate between what they learned in Y3 from what they learned in Y4, much less whether it was in the Autumn or Summer term! Teaching history in achieve nothing to aid chronology at that age. There are far more effective methods.
  8. bonkers 704

    bonkers 704 Lead commenter

    Another Gove apparatchik sneaking onto these forums to try and stick up for his master!
  9. Im thinking that, if the government gets its way, few of us will have to teach this new national curriculum because we will have all been turned into academies/free schools anyway.
  10. Good grief - just because I don't think the new curriculum is 'of the devil' that makes me a Gove apparatchik. Could we have a slightly more mature level of debate please? I have already said that I think there is far too much content in the new curriculum to have time to develop understanding/remember any of it.
    Out in the world plenty of parents aren't entirely happy with the way their children are taught currently. The approach of most primary schools is just one way of doing it. There are other possibilities worth considering.
    Tafkam, I wince to say it on this forum (because, believe it or not, I actually don't like conflict) but I think there would be more teaching time if teaching methods were different. Some primaries do seem to fit in much more 'content' than others. It may seem unbelievable to some on this forum but children appear to emerge from being taught more formally psychologically intact, and as amazing as it may seem, as likely to be keen to learn as their counterparts taught less formally. BTW to think that history could be taught as a discrete lesson does not mean lessons are necessarily miserable and boring simply that more can be learnt this way (and more enjoyed by the children.)
    I guess the reason I am happy to see the sort of approach advocated in this curriculum is that I want my children to hear the story of the past - something I know they would love. Choosing areas of history study because they fit in with the topic heading is ultimately problematic as what children learn about the past should not be based on what happens to fit a topic and this approach is more time consuming so the children get to learn less. I have less problem with study of a period over a term and often this is done really well (e.g doing the Victorians in yr 3) but this approach still denies children any real sense of broad narrative - which children currently lack at the end of their schooling. I don't believe children would enjoy history less if it was taught discretely and in fact know that this assumption is simply not true from my knowledge of prep schools and teaching secondary age students. It is wrong that at the end of their schooling teenagers could watch the Olympic opening ceremony without much of a clue. The fact they had some fun along the way is not a justification for this poor education in their past. With compulsory history ending at 14 primary schools have to have some responsibility for ensuring children have some sense of the narrative of the past.
  11. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    Zigmania, let me first say that I don't entirely disagree with your views. However, I think that in many respects they show a lack of awareness of the reality of most primary schools - and the accountability framework in which they work.

    While I agree that some children would be more than happy to work more 'formally' as you put it, and might indeed gather more knowledge in the process, I don't hold with the 'knowledge is King' model. And more importantly, formal teaching of History would never be able to plough through all the material in the planned NC at anything more than a cursory level. I don't think children will necessarily be bored by it, but not do I think they'll be ready to tackle the challenges of the KS3 curriculum. For example, I expect my Y7 students to consider interpretations of history, evaluate sources of evidence, and show an awareness of context. None of that will exist if the KS2 curriculum has simply been a linear drive through 'our glorious past'

    I also set as one of my first tasks in Y7 a simple ordering of 10 key historical periods in British history. Strangely, they do rather well at it. Not because they've been taught it in order (since I don't see that that would help them understand anything other than trying to recall when they were taught something!), but because they have an awareness of the periods they have studied. It's true, they struggle a little to correctly order the Stuarts and Georgians... but then so would the average adult I suspect. And actually, that wouldn't be any better under the new rules since they wouldn't have been allowed to discover the Georgians until Y7.

    As you rightly say, there are many excellent examples of thematic studies over a period. I have no doubts that a term of Victorians in Year 3 will develop a much clearer understanding of history, its skills and content, than will a period trying to teach 8-year-olds about the Crusades.

    The problem with a strictly chronological approach is that it takes no consideration of the children it is supposed to be taught to. It means that 20th Century history will get a thorough treatment by specialist teachers with the oldest compulsory students, while the Magna Carta will end up getting brief glossing by a Year 4 teacher who happens to be an Art specialist, and is aware that her pay will be judged on how well her children achieve in Maths and English.
  12. Being retired, and not having to write KS3 schemes of work any more, I feel I have something new to thank my lucky stars for! However, having learned 'Empathy' when we were still allowed to use the word on schemes of work I feel sorry for anyone involved in planning or teaching this. It took me about 10 minutes to work out it is totally unteachable, especially after I'd done the Maths, and to be honest at the end of 10 minutes I was actually shaking with fury.
    I quite like military history myself, but in terms of teaching History I reckon the PESC formula is useful. The KS3 Programme of Study seems to have an MPESC formula, the M standing for military. Is Michael Gove really influenced by a bunch of old colonels ... I thought that was just a joke.
    Apparently not. If you have boys going to an unacademised Secondary school next year they're going to love it: the course begins silently, with General Wolfe scaling the Heights of Abraham and conquering Canada. At this point the Curriculum Committee seem to have forgotten the Golden Rule of Chronology - they will have to go back to do the Battle of Culloden and those pesky Jacobites. Then over to India for the Battle of Plassey (don't do any research on this 'cos it will take the shine off it) and then take a Tea Clipper over the 13 Colonies and the Boston Tea Party. Oddly enough it was an Essex man, Horatio Gates who defeated us at the Battle of Saratoga, mainly by his skills in keeping a very assorted bunch of American militias together. (Another Essex man, Simon Schama, seems to have totally failed to knock any sense into the History Curriculum Committee, even though all of them were made in the same mould.) By this point in the programme, if you have a daughter at Secondary School, or maybe a son who is not really into anything other than football, they will be coming home and asking you why the History they're doing is nothing like the Horrible Histories. Never mind. They're in for a change: next on the list is The Enlightenment.
    The reason why I was shaking with fury is that all this was predictable the moment Michael Gove started giving hints about his plans for History at the Hay Book festival, and various leaks about it appeared in The Daily Mail - 2 years ago. For those curious about what comes after the Enlightenment it's .... well, the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars!
  13. How will museums that have made significant investments in World War II experiences or Victorian school rooms react to the removal of modern history (ie anything that happened in the last 250-odd years) from the primary curriculum? Will KS3 visit them instead?
    How can we justify binning perfectly good resources when there is no money to replace them? We're already trying to work out how we will fund SEN hours when the moneyfor them disappears... Pupil premium is no help if those children don't have free school meals...
    William Wilberforce and Elizabeth Fry are very important historical figures, but how do I break it to our Key Stage 1 teachers than they might be trying to explain the abolition of slavery or prison reform to 5 and 6 year olds?
    How do I break it to the enthusiastic historians in Key Stage 2 that Ancient Egypt, Victorians and World War II are off the agenda?
    What are the odds of OFSTED praising us for a "rich, vibrant and engaging curriculum" next time they visit?
    How do we make our mixed year group classes and their 2-year rolling curriculum fit with a requirement to teach history in strictly chronological order? Will it effectively become illegal to teach children in anything other than single year group classes?
  14. AdmiralNelson

    AdmiralNelson New commenter

    Badly, and not very much!
    You'll be developing all your own resources, of course...(I jest..!) Secondary schools have exactly the same problem...
    Pretty low if you follow Gove's proposals...
    Simply sit tight, don't make any changes, and wait for these proposals to be ditched as unworkable - eithetr the Coalition will do this, or the next government after 2015 will.

    BTW - Academy? Free School? You don't have to follow the NC anyway!
  15. I have read the new curriulum yesterday as a Primary teacher - but also a history graduate.

    Chronology -
    What a load of nonsense - some primary schools have 2 or 3 or in small village school even 4 year groups in a class - how will they teach history chronologically? "Yes this year in history, our lessons will end where last year's started...."
    Children will be more confused.
    Any good history topic at primary starts with putting the period of history in context and chronogically with other topics already taught.
    Primary history is exciting and real - most children love it - I've just finished a Victorians topic with my class - and our topic question was "Were they really vile?" - in the final lesson they had to answer it - and they understood the social changes that happened in the era and could voalise them.

    If this history curriculum comes in, I pity secondary history teachers - there will be no love of history coming to them - it will be a confusing and poorly taught subject; badly resourced as schools will have to replace all of their resoures in times of poor budgest with quickly produced resouces as there will nothing KS2 friendly available for most of the subjects in the new curriculum - it will be a disaster.

    Primary history should be about the history that young children can connect with and come alive in.....Romans/saxons/Vikings, WWII, Victorians, Tudors etc were well thought out becasue of how they can be made engaging.
    Ofsted will never again praise a primary's curriulum if these changes come into force - and schools will have to go back to a QCA led, subjects in little boxes timetables - very sad

    Sorry that turned into a bit of a rant.....
  16. AdmiralNelson

    AdmiralNelson New commenter

    As a secondary school Hittory teacher can I point out that much of the stuff proposed for us @ KS3 is dull as ditchwater...

    Give me Bad King John & the MC any day!
  17. zugthebug

    zugthebug New commenter

    perhaps primary and secondary need to get together and agree to swap time periods!
  18. AdmiralNelson

    AdmiralNelson New commenter

    Of course Academies, Free schools and independents don't have to take notice of the NC....and I suspect a few other schools will amend/ignore it too...
  19. hec


    also -suggest contacting Kevin Brennan MP, Shadow Minister for Schools. He is chairing a Westminster Forum reviewing the History & Geog proposals. Strangely this Forum does not appear to have any speakers from the Historical Association and its not listed in the invited organisations, but it's purpose it to inform parliamentary debate, from what it says on the website

  20. hec


    oops - the above is meant to be a reply to post no 26 by Folkfan - havent quite got the hang of this! thought the reply wd go under the relevant post

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