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  5. #ASEchat 126 Planning for a National Curriculum without levels 11 November 2013

#ASEchat 126 Planning for a National Curriculum without levels 11 November 2013

#ASEchat 126 - Planning for a new national curriculum with no levels

11 November 2013 with @cleverfiend

Although a similar topic was discussed only a few weeks before, the issue of the new national curriculum and what will replace the levels as a progress and accountability measure is still worrying lots of science teachers.

@cleverfiend referred to his recent visit to the DfE and their relative surprise that teachers won’t do much planning for the new curriculum until they know how they will be measured.  Unfortunately whilst assessment shouldn’t lead the curriculum, Ofsted does lead the practice that happens in schools.  @cleverfiend went on to say that his worry is that someone will come up with a model and everyone will adopt it (like with PIVATS/B-Squared small steps documents used in special needs education) and the NAHT is working on a possible model with schools.

@Viciascience asked why we need levels and there seems to be two answers. To inform what happens in the lessons and to provide accountability.  Some teachers are asked to report in sublevels (some to 1/10 of a level) for school tracking data. @NeedhamL56 wondered if SOLO taxonomy could be used (as it has advantages over Bloom’s) and this point was reiterated by several other teachers as the discussion progressed.

@Cleverfiend mentioned the issue of time to prepare and many teachers agreed that we don’t have much time to prepare, especially if waiting for more information on assessment (chat participants pointed out that the new GCSE grade descriptors haven’t been published yet so no one knows what constitutes grades 1 to 9).

Some teachers admitted not having really got a good grasp of levels, and parents find the language of levels totally confusing.  Reference was made to the old national strategy materials and how useful some of the resources could possibly be in terms of structuring a new curriculum.

There was also a worry that many schools are waiting for publishers to do the work for them, and that most of their work would consist of just adopting a new text book.  Several chatters including @hrogerson and @HThompson1982 pointed out that a scheme of work should be adapted for each setting.

@Cleverfiend asked if we should wait for GCSE and plan backwards (especially if reporting requirements are to be loosened at the end of KS3). This prompted lots of discussion with teachers talking up the merits of a five year curriculum plan, and a continual scheme of work rather than a discrete KS3 and KS4.  There was a lot of consensus that this could be the best way to approach planning a new curriculum although ideas for assessment were a little more divergent.

@Geol_2008 pointed out that we would still need a mechanism for reporting progress to parents.  There was suggestion of a curriculum map or gaps in knowledge being highlighted in reports.  @Cleverfiend reported on some Primary school training at the weekend from @nicolabeverley1 and the idea of continuing themes running across the key stage. 

Curriculum development is still in a very early stage with the final versions of the national curriculum only just having been released to the public.  Many teachers said they will wait for more information before moving forward with new schemes.

What can the ASE do to support members in developing a world class science curriculum that meets the aims and requirements of the new national curriculum?  I’d be interested to hear your comments (and I’ll pass them on to the ASE)