The government’s 2014 National Curriculum contains a great deal of fresh content and ambitious expectations of learning. It is designed to provide children with the essential knowledge, skills and understanding that they require as citizens of Great Britain.
The curriculum has not provided statutory requirements expected in each year group. Instead, it has provided two standards: knowledge to be acquired by the end of Key Stage One and knowledge to be acquired by the end of Key Stage Two. This is due to the idea that learning is accumulative and requires time. Also, that skills and concepts need to be repeated and revisited at a greater depth more than once, before they are secured.
National Curriculum ‘Levels’ have been removed and will not be replaced. Partially this is due to a shift in perception about levels:
1. That levels have encouraged schools to race children through the curriculum, moving on too quickly to ideas in the next ‘level’. As a result, children have developed a shallow understanding of the concepts and skills taught.
2. Children are levelled according to the ‘best fit’ –thus children may not have completely understood key concepts, or may have even missed some out.
3. Levels given on test papers are taken from an average and might not truly reflect a child’s capabilities.4. Best international practice does not use levels. Rather focus is placed upon learning fewer concepts in a greater depth.
Although the content has been stipulated by the government and statutory assessments (SATs) will continue to be administered, schools now assess the skills required in each subject, at each stage of learning, in different ways. This means providing children with increased cognitive challenge allowing them to apply the skills which they have learnt independently in a range of contexts rather than moving them onto the next skill needlessly, when they have not truly mastered it; children’s depth of learning will move from ‘paddling’ to ‘diving’ as illustrated below:
At Landewednack School, we want to challenge our children to become independent, well-rounded individuals who take ownership of their learning and become deep thinkers. We do not want them to have to swim across the water above, we want them to be diving for pearls of wisdom and learning through discovery –a key skill expected from children who achieve high levels in their GCSEs at secondary school.
Moreover, we want our children to be able to apply their knowledge and skills in a range of contexts within school and real life.