Session 103: Discussing the Draft National Curriculum

Session Summary

This week new primary school curricula were released and details of O-levels were published in the newspapers.

The full curricula can be found at:

The discussion began with an overview of the new curriculum. It was noted that the new curriculum is quite prescriptive in terms of content, but there was still freedom to choose teaching methods to some degree. The simplification of calculation methods was also welcomed. In English the content was generally welcomed, but there was concern over the specialist lexis of linguistics being brought into the primary curriculum and that some of the curriculum might be seen as highbrow.  For example poetry, but it was countered that this might simply be nursery rhymes. It was also noted that Academies do NOT have to follow the new curriculum.

There were a large number of ideas including an emphasis on teaching skills rather than specific subject knowledge, topics and subjects of a practical nature, emotional , communications and teaching frameworks such as SOLO and the TASC wheel.  It was also suggested that the PLTS and Rose’s six areas of learning should be retained, because they have made a difference to teaching in recent times.

The forum then moved onto the reintroduction of O-levels. The idea of a single examination board was welcomed to prevent gaming of the system and to ensure general consistency in setting of exams. There was significant debate about the negative effects of telling students that they were too ‘thick’ to take the new exams, although it was pointed out that GCSEs already have higher and lower tiers. It was also pointed out that iGCSEs provide a credible exam-based alternative.  The rest of Europe is known for having vocational alternatives and it was felt that in the UK vocational qualifications are seen as second best.

One other disappointment was that the curriculum and plans for O-levels were not distributed to teachers and the first that they got to hear of it was in the newspapers that put on their own spin. A lot of the negative impressions could have been avoided if the original documents were released at the same time as briefing the press.

If we aim to emulate the very best education systems in the world we should start with Norway where teachers are trusted and as this Tweet stated, “We’re professionals, show us the research, the skills, the knowledge and let us choose!”



rashush2: It all seems about teaching what we can assess #ukedchat

philallman1: If I don’t ‘know’ something I look it up! It is knowing WHAT to do with it that makes the difference! #ukedchat

claireothacehe: @tmeeky completely agree – chn need to know what they have learnt, what to do next etc. and to enjoy learning as priority #ukedchat

oldandrewuk: @philallman1 #ukedchat All the evidence from psychology is that knowing stuff fluently is what counts. Looking up is no substitute.

Angstockwell: #ukedchat Surely the best learning experiences are when children ‘do’!

rashush2: Biggest danger is change away from NC levels and bright kids expected to wait for the others #ukedchat

UWHClaire: @bekblayton @eslweb you need knowledge of a topic but skills are universal #gove aim with the curriculum to breed fascination? #ukedchat

philallman1: @eslweb not everything of value cn B measured. The best performing jurisdictions have COMPETENCY based curricula not factual dogma #ukedchat

chrisquigley: #ukedchat does anyone think any of the pos contain irrelevant subject knowledge or skills? I’m struggling to criticise on those grounds.

Jon_Torbitt: @eslweb ideally both content & skills. skills demonstrate application of knowledge e.g. computing, experiments, maths working out #ukedchat

UWHClaire: @bekblayton @eslweb Skills, the knowledge for history probably won’t help you in further ed, but the skills will #ukedchat

oldandrewuk: @lizdudley #ukedchat Some of the research is with medical students. Age isn’t a factor. We all learn best if we gain information easily.

cherrylkd: @eyebeams @oldandrewuk @philallman1 #ukedchat surely not every ch learns in same way. Some need teaching others need to ‘discover’?

Heatherleatt: Other Euro countries have great voc  pathways. UK vocational quals always derided and seen as 2nd best. Not everyone is academic #ukedchat

ICE2911: @eslweb #ukedchat the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn- things move fast!

philallman1: @eslweb ‘knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do.’ knowing stuff doesn’t give you that #ukedchat

raisechildrens: @eslweb I think they want life experience, maturity, a responsible attitude, enthusiasm, passion-are they in the new curricula? #ukedchat

EllieERussell: #ukedchat interpersonal skills, ability to question what they are told and know how and where find out for themselves..

eyebeams: @eslweb @educationgovuk Try releasing proposed education policy  changes other than through the gutter press #ukedchat

rashush2: We’re academics. We need to understand. Give us evidence, let us talk to the authors. Then pilot it, evaluate it, fund it. #ukedchat


bekblayton: #ukedchat I think the maths draft makes some much needed changes in calculation (more straightforward) but seems to do too much too early!


Educationchat: @oldandrewuk @eslweb Did you miss the intense focus on grammar, phonic testing, raising challenge in maths, more knowledge based? #ukedchat

philallman1: English is leading us 1 way in KS1 – phonics and down road of compartmentalised areas in KS2 #ukedchat

bekblayton: @eslweb like most of the Eng curriculum apart from over reliance on phonics. Lots about Whole Books, lots of high expectations… #ukedchat

Angstockwell: #ukedchat Should fraction 4 rules/subjunctive/ apostrophe supersede creative curric learning opps for chn with undeveloped life experiences?

bekblayton: Reciting poetry – really?  #ukedchat (via @DidgeH) << just nursery rhymes! No big deal really …?

MichelleDhillon: @eslweb You can improve grammar, spelling, punctuation etc creatively and non prescriptively. I can prove it. The end. #ukedchat


mrpeel: #ukedchat and single exam boards for subjects sounds like an excellent idea

68ron: Already looking forward to those discussions explaining to parents/carers why their child isn’t “”best suited”” for O level #ukedchat

mrpeel: #ukedchat i wonder what he means by olevels -if merely final exam based testing that’s IGCSE = already exists

Heatherleatt: #ukedchat GCSE introduced to stop the 2 tier O level CSE system; foundation & higher tier do same job. If ease is problem, make GCSEs harder

mrpeel: @lizdudley  #ukedchat kill all modules for me and I’d lose AS too.  Lower VIth was a great year when free to enrich and devel

UWHClaire: @Heatherleatt agreed, if you look at the career openings in society today do we really need a generation of academics? #ukedchat


claireothacehe: @eslweb TASC wheel integrated into all planning with a creative curriculum throughout – teach skills through a fabulous context! #ukedchat

MrCursonTweets: #ukedchat open book also models real world where people have reference books at hand in whatever job they do. No need to remember everything

FiLines: @eslweb more consultation with those at the ‘chalk face’ #ukedchat

Monty_Math: #ukedchat one change for new curriculum – emphasise assessment for learning rather than top down targets for yr groups.

philallman1: @eslweb The very best bits of the last 15yrs have been the PLTS @KS3 and Rose’s 6 areas of learning. They linked! #ukedchat

Jon_Torbitt: “@eslweb: Would anybody think there is a value to 20% time? #ukedchat” absolutely – this is when you can do your best work and experiment!

teamjacklin: @eslweb Financial skills, Budgetting, Customer Service skills, social skills, work experience #ukedchat

claireothacehe: @eslweb competent, confident and imaginative literacy and self-confidence (to a ‘just right’ level!) #ukedchat

Stephen_Logan: @eslweb self management, teamwork, application of IT, literacy and numeracy, problem solving. #employability skills #ukedchat

tmeeky: @judeenright I dissected a rat in biology… never had to since but remember a lot of biol of that lesson  #ukedchat

philallman1: @eslweb Message to DfE crouch, touch, pause, engage 🙂 #ukedchat

bekblayton: @eslweb lots ‘thinking out loud’ during reading & writing, which is good but I do wish that speaking & listening was more explicit #ukedchat


ICTwitz: @NuttyA10 The choice is <a> Academy and curriculum freedom, or <b> State school and state curriulum. Hmm!! Blackmail? #ukedchat

mrpeel: #ukedchat academy not free if there is a single exam board preparing the exams though -all sit the same in the end – problem?

ICTwitz: Also, if you are in an academy, the new curriculum won’t be relevant to you, as you can do your own thing!!! #ukedchat


mr_chadwick: Perhaps good to read before #ukedchat gets going? > Dogmatic debate in education only means everyone loses

philallman1: This was my response, written and sent to DfE today #ukedchat

largerama: This answers that question “”What do you think employers want


bekblayton: @eslweb to @educationgovuk ?? Hmmm.. We’re professionals, show us the research, the skills, the knowledge & let us choose! #ukedchat


I started life working in the IT industry, taught English as foreign language and came into the profession in 2004. I am now head of ICT and Economics in a school in Suffolk. I am Google Certified, a CISCO trainer and am organising the Raspberry Jam in Cambridge.  You’ll find me on Twitter as @eslweb and my website is

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