Jobs and Careers Autumn 2017 - 149

SPOTLIGHT ON TEACHING

E

ducation is an ever-changing
field, and that has been more
true than ever in recent years.
In September 2014, following
a government review, the
entire school curriculum was changed
for maintained schools throughout
England in order to raise standards.
Like it or not, if you want to be
a teacher in primary or secondary
education in England, the national
curriculum will become your bible.
But what does it really mean for
teachers and those thinking about
going into the profession?

THE NATIONAL CURRICULUM

In short, the national curriculum is a
document that sets out the subjects to
be taught and the strategies to assess
children in Years 1 to 11. It first came
into force in the late 1980s, with the
aim to bring greater consistency of
teaching across schools in the country.

WHY THE CHANGE?

The new national curriculum was
introduced to improve national
standards with a focus on "higher
expectations" in certain subjects. It
was inspired by the teaching in some of
the world's most successful education
systems, such as Hong Kong, as well as
what is taught in the best UK schools.
Academies and free schools are
exempt from the national curriculum
but are required to teach a broad-based
curriculum that includes English,
maths, science and religious education.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR TEACHERS?

Words: Kate Yelland. Photography: Shutterstock

In essence, the content of the new
primary curriculum is now more
demanding in some areas. Although
the content as a whole is slimmer, it
is intended to be more challenging.

WHAT SUBJECTS ARE COVERED?

The most teaching time is devoted to
three core subjects: maths, English
and science. What should be taught
in each of these is set out in great
detail in the national curriculum.
Teachers also have to deliver eight
foundation subjects: geography, history,
art, computing, design and technology,
music, PE and languages (the latter in

KS2 only). While all are a compulsory
part of the national curriculum, schools
have greater flexibility in how and
what is taught within each subject.
In addition, all schools are
required to include some religious
education within their teaching.

TEACHING KEY STAGE 1

The national curriculum is split into
four key stages, defined by pupil age.
Primary school encompasses key
stages 1 and 2. Years 1 and 2 (when
children are mostly aged between
five and seven years) comprise KS1;
Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 (when children are
between 7 and 11) comprise KS2.
KS1 is the stage at which teachers
begin to build on the learning that has
taken place in Early Years/reception.

WHAT ARE CHILDREN TAUGHT?

In KS1 maths, there is a big focus on
developing a child's basic number

skills. That means securing a
good understanding of number
and place value, calculations,
fractions, measurement,
shape, graphs and data.
When it comes to literacy, as
children move through KS1 the
curriculum aims for almost all
pupils to secure the basic skills of
decoding so they can become fluent
readers. Once their confidence in
reading has grown, they can begin
to write down their own ideas.
Alongside reading and
writing, speaking and listening
are now very much part of
the literacy framework.

WHAT'S IT LIKE TO TEACH KS1?

"You do have a sense of freedom,"
says Linda Droogmans, a KS1
teacher from Bradford. "You can
choose your own topics and decide
what you'll actually teach in order
J O B S & C A R E E R S /// 1 4 9

148 J&C JC17 National Curriculum jw.indd 149

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