We are now at the final stage of England’s latest National Curriculum review. On 8 July, the UK government published the draft legislative Order with a consultation closing date of 8 August. The next version, in October, will be the real thing. The Cambridge Primary Review and the CPR Trust have responded to the proposals at every stage since the current national curriculum review was launched in 2011. However, unless there’s a dramatic parliamentary intervention all the changes that the government is prepared to concede have now been made, so we shall not be submitting further comments at this stage. You will find the draft legislative order and consultation form atwww.education.gov.uk/nationalcurriculum.
On the matter of consultation, it is instructive to view DfE’s analysis of responses to the previous stage and assess their impact on the latest proposals. DfE consultations provoke a great deal of routine cynicism and DfE itself has now provided the data to enable us to assess how far this is justified. You will find DfE’s analysis and the government’s reaction at www.education.gov.uk/consultations.
Here’s a positive example. CPRT has exerted considerable pressure, both through the formal consultations and directly with ministers and officials, to raise the curriculum profile of spoken language in accordance with its crucially important role in education, employment and life. Hitherto, the proposals have been, in our view, woefully inadequate and ill-conceived (see ‘The power of talk’ in the News column). The 8 July version doesn’t go as far as we would like in this regard, but is a considerable improvement on its predecessors, and we recognise the source of much of the programme of study for spoken language that DfE has belatedly inserted.
DfE has also confirmed that most of the existing national curriculum will be ‘disapplied’ for the year 2013-14 in order to help schools make the transition. CPRT is aware that for wholly understandable reasons there is some professional support for this decision, though from DfE’s response figures not enough to justify ploughing ahead regardless. We remind DfE that the last time this device was deployed (in 1998, to get schools to concentrate on the previous government’s flagship national literacy and numeracy strategies), Ofsted reported that in many primary schools it inflicted serious damage on the quality of the non-core curriculum experienced by a generation of the nation’s children. During 2013-14 we might keep this episode, and its warnings, in mind.