Tuesday, 4 March 2014

One of our key stages is missing!

You may have noticed that there is a new National Curriculum due to start in September.  Throughout the land, primary and secondary teachers are looking at the new curriculum and planning (or perhaps not in academies) on how they will teach the content.

In September, the programmes of study for KS1 – KS3 were published.  When we looked at science, we saw that there were some topics, such as natural selection evolution, which had ‘gone down’ a key stage or two and some topics, such as levers, which hadn’t been around for a long time making a reappearance.  So far so good….

But something is missing.  Where is the programme of study for KS4 science?

What?  You didn’t realise that there WAS a programme of study for KS4 science.  Well, there was and it looked like this: page 39

But where is the new KS4 national curriculum?  And does it matter?  Perhaps it doesn’t – after all, most curriculum planners at KS4 look only at the GCSE (or equivalent) specifications.  These specifications HAVE to cover the KS4 programme of study, so as long as you did the qualifications, you did KS4.

But what about now?  The current national curriculum has been disapplied until September 2014 – quite sensibly to allow for planning and pre-implementation of the new NC.  From September the new NC will be in force, and schools will have to ensure that they cover it.  However, we don’t know what the KS4 NC looks like, or even if the courses that students are taking in September will cover it.

In the heights of the DfE, consultations about the subject criteria for GCSE sciences are being carried out.  These are being developed with the writing of specifications in mind.  I presume that, once the subject criteria are finalised, then they will be adopted as the new KS4 national curriculum for science, and that they will come into effect (with the rest of the curriculum) from September 2014.

Only, the new GCSEs won’t start until 2016, and the old GCSEs are unlikely to cover the full requirements of the NC (at least, not if they are anything like the draft subject criteria).

So what should schools do?  Fail to fulfil their statutory duty to teach the National curriculum or teach a curriculum that doesn’t quite match the GCSE specification?

And what is DfE going to do about it?