Campaign for a broad and balanced curriculum #cabbc
My son is 10. This year he has done five lessons of computing, very little science and he recently came home and told me his school have squeezed four lessons of sex education into two lessons in the last weeks of term.
At our recent primary computing conference two teachers asked me how they can reduce the amount of computing they teach as their school is increasing Maths and Literacy and reducing all other curriculum coverage.
A good friend of mine teaches year 6 pupils in a school where for over a term they did over two and half hours of literacy every day.
Recently when combining computing and design and technology at multiple schools I have been horrified by basic science misconceptions from bright pupils. There was no conception of how a basic circuit works or which parts of a wire conduct electricity. Far too little science was being taught and far too little was experimental.
Yesterday I heard from secondary teachers that they were losing time for their subjects because Maths and Literacy allocation was being increased in their schools.
All pupils deserve a broad and balanced curriculum. I want my own children to study artists and paint in different styles. I gained a lifelong love of art from a wonderful secondary teacher and lots of opportunity to create in my primary years. I want my children to learn how to raise a question and test it scientifically. This understanding has helped me think through the bigger issues in life and recognise good science from quackery. I want them to understand about historical sources and learn about the past. I still widely read historical fact and fiction from a wide range of historical periods initially inspired by some great history teaching.
Everywhere I hear about the curriculum being narrowed. It doesn’t win votes to talk about balance but we all need balance in our lives and pupils need to experience great learning from a wide variety of subjects to become rounded citizens.
So how can we address this curriculum narrowing without losing the gains in Literacy and Maths gained over the last decades?
Set a minimum and maximum time for every curricular subject
When the national curriculum was first introduced I remember curriculum areas being given a time allowance. Now many in schools would not wish to be dictated to as strictly as that but a minimum and maximum time allowance for every subject would allow flexibility whilst ensuring a broad and balanced curriculum. It would also allow parents and governments to make real like for like value judgements between schools. It would also protect pupils from headteachers willing to abandon curricular breadth for a few more literacy or maths percentage points.
Make the publication of subject time allocations by year group a mandatory part of school website reporting
Currently schools need to publish their curriculum maps on their websites. Add the extra task that schools need to publish their subject allocation in every year group either as a percentage or as total number of hours in a year. Parents can then use this information to make choices about the type of curriculum a school delivers when they choose the school. If schools combine subjects in cross curricular topics they can still unpick the individual elements for reporting purposes.
Include part of the wider curriculum as a manditory element in Ofsted inspection
I taught in the first year Ofsted came into existence. At this time a thorough inspection involved lesson observations in every curriculum area. Because of this every curriculum area was valued and taught. Whilst I understand the argument that the old regime was too costly to maintain I think we could come to some mixed model that involves some manditory reporting in other subject areas other than just literacy and maths. Could each school suggest one foundation area for the Ofsted to team to inspect in detail and the inspection team could choose one other randomly.
Set a maximum amount of time that pupils can be removed from any one subject throughout the year
If we accept the premise that some pupils may need extra support in literacy or maths outside of literacy or maths lessons. Then let us set a maximum amount of time that pupils can be remove from any one subject so we ensure pupils are not disenfranchised from any one part of the curriculum. If they are pupil premium children let’s use the money to provide support at the beginning or end of the school day.
What do you think? Would you join #cabbc to promote a broad curriculum?