an overview of the new curriculum
NB In the next academic year 2014/2015 Years 2 and 6 (ie current Years 1 and 5) will both continue to follow the current National Curriculum for English, Maths and Science.
What’s new in the new curriculum?
- Whilst it shares many content features with the current curriculum, the new Science curriculum aims to be more ambitious, with a stronger focus on the importance of acquiring scientific knowledge, being comfortable using scientific language, and developing a greater understanding of core scientific concepts.
- The overall document is less prescriptive, focusing more on outcomes rather than input, allowing greater flexibility for schools to decide the detail of what is taught.
- There is greater flexibility within the Key Stages for schools to introduce content either earlier or later than set out in the programme of study.
- Some topics have been reallocated between year groups, and certain topics, including Evolution and Inheritance in Year 6, appear at Primary level for the first time.
- There is a greater emphasis on outdoor, ‘own backyard’ exploratory learning.
- There is more importance given to the study and knowledge of local / indigenous flora and fauna.
- There is a greater emphasis on seasonality and development, and the study and recording of that development over time.
What are the implications for schools?
To get the best from the new curriculum is more than a matter of working out which units have moved between year groups. The combination of change factors above have a number of important implications for schools:
- The school’s exterior, grounds and surroundings are now an arena of study in both Key Stages, and should be audited and optimally exploited for learning opportunities.
- Units should be carefully placed in the year to allow study of seasonality and for extended projects to unfold.
- The curriculum now lends itself more strongly to extended projects and projects within topic units.
- The role of the Science Coordinator/Subject Leader is increasingly important, supporting and inspiring colleagues, giving them the confidence to make the best use of the greater freedom in the new curriculum.
- All those teaching science must have sufficient subject knowledge, and be sufficiently comfortable with scientific vocabulary and thinking, to be able to promote scientific enquiry and the acquisition of deeper scientific knowledge and understanding.
What questions should a school be asking itself?
A school successfully delivering the new curriculum will be able to answer positively the following questions:
- Are we sufficiently encouraging scientific enquiry?
- Are we sufficiently encouraging familiarity with and use of scientific language?
- Are we sufficiently exploring fundamental scientific principles?
- Are we sufficiently exploring scientifically the outdoor environment?
- Are we sufficiently developing an awareness of past and present scientific practitioners?
- Are we sufficiently linking scientific study to the children’s own experience of the world?