The government’s decision to introduce a national curriculum back in 1990s was a crucial yet a controversial decision. Some authorities were concerned that the curriculum would be too prescriptive and would tie the hands of the local education authorities as far as educating the children within their community. Schools themselves expressed concern that the curriculum would be too performance-led as opposed to pupil led and those pupils and teachers alike would be restricted in what would be taught and learned. Initially private English tutors were of the same opinion.
In reality the amount of content the teacher had to get through for their classes to achieve a good result was substantial. For the English teacher and English private tutor alike it was difficult enough having to study a Shakespeare text but to have the choice of advanced level plays such as “Much Ado About Nothing” and “The Tempest” was simply ludicrous.
Certainly it would be true to say that schools became more concerned with the results their pupils achieved rather than their pupils’ personal all round development. Teachers spent more time preparing pupils for their exam rather than enabling the child to have a more creative and interesting experience of school. This also fed through to private English tutors.
Parents too became aware that League Tables with SATs and GCSE performance results were more important in assessing the quality of the school rather than the care the school offered the child and the extra curriculum and value added the school achieved. Oh and we certainly cannot ignore the Ofsted Inspectors’ Reports after one week in a school.
And why not? Surely successful schools mean successful pupils?
However it does not necessarily mean happy pupils. It is fair to say as both an English teacher in school and a English private tutor I felt we had lost our way. Schools did not have the time to spend encouraging children in their creativity.. to use their imagination to write those wonderful stories I remember writing when I was I child. No.. don’t even go there!
Fortunately we can now declare “thank the Lord!” that the SATs exams as they used to exist are now over! However a new regime of exams have come into play. Oh yes the Functional skills exam. These exams are to placate employers who moan and gripe each year that children leave school not being able to fill in an application form, understanding a simple piece of instruction and cope with the paper work children have to encounter in the outside world.
Let’s look at our own children. For example since year 3 my daughter has been tested willy-nilly and do I feel that she is any better or more capable to work in the outside world? Not sure. True her education is not yet complete. She has at least 3 more years to go and another 3 if she decides to go to university. However I sometimes worry that her childhood has been spend yes having some fun but much of the time at home and at school, she has spent either revising for an exam; researching a new topic or doing homework. I certainly do not remember trawling through the battery of exams my daughter has to experience (except for the 11+ ) and then the next really serious exams were “O” level exams in the 5th year i.e. year 11. As a English private tutor I know it is important to get results but as a mother I am not sure it’s worth it.
The concept of the National Curriculum for English was laudable and, in some ways, beneficial. It was to ensure that all children from England as well as Northern Ireland and Wales had the same curriculum in order to raise the standards of Education. It was to broaden children’s education not restrict it thus ensuring that up to the age of 16 children had to have a language and a science, which prior to 1989 they could drop or retain in their options. As with most private English tutors the concept was good.
The second reason why it was important is that it ensured that children from across the country had the same curriculum. The act to raise the l at each key stage was introduced to a programme of study which would enable them to develop so that they could function in the wide world.
So for English the ability to read, write, speak and listen these are the key areas however from those are the basic building blocks. From the moment each child starts school he or she is assessed and targets are set for the child to achieve, starting at key stage 1. So by the time the pupil reaches secondary school they are ready to embark upon key stage 3 having worked through key stage 1 and 2.
Please be aware and has would have targets set and once that target is achieved the child to the next target achieve which as each child achieves each target on the takes on each level or stage stage tenets which each child
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