The smoke and mirrors curriculum.


In the last few days I have been fishing (and I mean fishing) through the new draft primary science curriculum.

If all the buzz is to be believed, then I was expecting an explosion of science ‘facts’ to rain down on us, after all, isn’t Gove pursuing a knowledge curriculum, long on ‘information’ and short on proficiencies?  So I was surprised to find not more, but less knowledge content in the new science curriculum for key stage one at least. In fact, I would go so far as to say, that there are now gaping great holes in the infant curriculum that bring to mind a type of Swiss cheese that I loved as a child.

Where there was once a nice chunk of Electricity in Year 2, there is now an empty space. Now primary school children will not fiddle with a circuit  until they are in Year 4, when they are 8 or 9 years old. And while there is no sound in the vacuum of space, there is also no Sound in the Year 1 science curriculum either. Yes, that’s gone too! Everything is piled high into Year 4 and above. What happened to the ‘broad and balanced’ bit? Or has that always been just a political way of saying, ‘teach all of this and maybe a bit of that’ depending on who holds the policy pen?

Furthermore, the prescriptive nature of the year by year taught key concepts is the backdrop to a progression that seems crude to say the least. Take Plants in Year 1 where children should be taught to label the parts of a plant: leaf, stem, root.  Now take the progression to Year 3, the children should know parts of a plant: leaf, stem, root… and know their function. On the surface this may seem like a progression, however, what this merely serves is to limit the teaching and learning implicitly allowed in Year 1. In Year 1 you’ll be able to say, ‘leaf, stem, root,’ but whatever you do, please don’t mention what they do! That’s for Year 3! Oh dear…here we go again.

So, for me, this is more evidence of the smoke and mirrors that is Michael Gove. While we expected this terrible wizard to bombard us with science via a thunderous voice, we get instead a small man, cranking a silly little machine that has puffed out something quite feeble and ultimately limiting for young children.

I will however, keep reading…let’s hope Rocks haven’t gone in Year 3, as I enjoy my opportunity to say igneous and metamorphic once a year without people yawning at me and changing the subject.

Dear, dear, where will the yellow brick road take us to next…