You may or may not have noticed, but at the start of this academic year our (I’m trying to think of an appropriate adjective, but I can’t right now) government saw fit to thrust a new curriculum on primary schools. Now maybe I’m being naive here, but as a parent with 10 years’ experience of kids in primary school, the curriculum didn’t appear to be broken. So I’m not sure why it needed fixing.
We’ve had many tweaks over the years, both by the government and the school, but this has been by far the biggest change I’ve seen in those 10 years. Ministers have changed their minds about what kids need to learn and when – so they’ve decided that World War II should be a year 5 topic instead of a year 6 topic. And they’ve decided that kids should have certain skills at different times – things like fractions and telling the time.
Thank goodness they allowed the year 6s to carry on under the old curriculum, otherwise they could seriously have messed up their SATs. But, for the other year groups, it’s been a year of change.
For my daughter, in year 4, some of the things that used to be on the year 4 curriculum are now on the year 3 curriculum. The upshot of that is that kids went into year 4 this year without the basic skills and knowledge to ‘pass’ year 3. So they’ve been playing catch-up – gaining year 3 skills and knowledge, whilst also getting to grips with the year 4 curriculum.
A few weeks ago, my daughter told us that, due to the new curriculum, the school reports would be changing. The school reports have NEVER changed. We knew where we were with the reports – you got a 1 if you were above expected, a 2 if you were at the expected level and a 3 if you were below it. Then you got an A for excellent effort, a B for good effort, down to an E for very poor effort.
But now it’s all about D and S. D is for ‘developing’ – children have achieved a number of expectation for the year group. S is for ‘securing’ – children have achieved the majority of their year group expectations and are securing their understanding.
Due to the year 3/ year 4 change, the kids had been warned. They would be getting D. Nobody would be getting S.
It wasn’t their fault, it was the fault of the curriculum.
I knew my daughter would be upset and, deep down, maybe I would be a bit. Even though I knew it wasn’t her fault or the school’s. We’d been so happy with her reports over the years and the new report just wouldn’t feel right.
And then the report came home.
She got that elusive ‘S’. Not just in one subject, but in everything apart from computing and languages. Due to her own ability and determination, combined with some very good teaching, she has navigated the pitfalls of the new curriculum and she’s come out on top!
Not only that, but her teacher, who has always had a real soft spot for my daughter, has said the nicest things. I don’t think you could get many better comments than this: She was, and still is, one of the most mature, self-motivated learners I have ever met, with a fiercely independent, quietly competitive streak!
Once again, I am so proud of my daughter for her brilliant school report. The government can mess with our curriculum, but it can’t mess with my daughter’s ability, determination and enthusiasm!