Birmingham ELN Response to the Department for Education National Curriculum Reform Consultation

Below you will find a summary of the key points from the draft Birmingham ELN  response to the National Curriculum Reform Consultation, posted hear to make it easier to share and gather Uprisers’ views (apologies non-UpRisers, hope you find it of interest!). For more information on the consultation and for the framework document that we are responding to please click here.

National Curriculum

  • We believe that there should be an additional aim for the National Curriculum referring to the importance of preparing children and young people for later life and crucial experiences such as entering employment and integrating into wider society. We also feel it should contain a commitment to engendering understanding in addition to the acquisition of knowledge.  We suggest:

 ‘The National Curriculum offers every child the opportunity to gain the knowledge, understanding, life skills and opportunities needed to successfully progress into further education and/or employment and wider civil and civic society.’

  • We are highly concerned about the proposal to strip back the National Curriculum to basic aims for each key stage, allowing teachers more freedom to shape their own curriculum. Whilst we feel this will allow excellent teachers to thrive, we fear that in general this may lead to uneven teaching, leaving some children with significant gaps in their knowledge upon reaching further and higher education, particularly if teachers are not given sufficient training on how to manage this.
  • On this subject, we are highly concerned about section 11.3 of the consultation document which reads:

‘Schools are best placed to decide which resources meet their needs and to secure these accordingly. It is right, therefore, that we move away from large-scale, centralised training programmes, which limit schools’ autonomy, and towards a market-based approach in which schools can work collaboratively to provide professional development tailored to individual needs’.

  • If this proposal is acted on and no or little centralised training is provided, different schools will commission different levels of training both in general and for different subjects. Well managed schools will be far more effective at this than those in which there is a dearth of leadership. This may further the educational divide and impact of the ‘postcode lottery’ on children’s educational prospects. Furthermore some changes, such as those introduced in Computing, will require staff to learn a whole range of skills that they may not already have in place. This retraining may prove expensive. We hope that the Department for Education will ensure that schools have the additional financial resources they will need to invest in this training.
  • We feel that the current proposed aims for Citizenship Education are too dull and focused on acquiring factual knowledge about electoral systems, modes of volunteering and governance systems. We propose that the aims be reformed to emphasise why democratic engagement and volunteering are important not just what they are. We feel this can be best achieved by using Citizenship Education to allow young people to consider and apply how they can address real problems within their communities now as well as into adulthood.

For the full draft consultation response click here. Any comments or questions you have please either leave a comment here or contact Henrietta Brealey via the Birmingham ELN facebook group or LinkedIn pages.

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