The Evolution of the National Curriculum
· Are the historical changes to the curriculum primarily based on educational principles; or are they based on political drivers?
It has been over 27 years since the National Curriculum was first introduced in England. Since it was legislated, it has been constantly revised and significant changes have occurred within its content and format. However, the aims, purposes and values have being moulded by two main influences: The first put forward by supporters of child centred and progressive education and the second driven by the country’s political and socio economic agendas. These two views differ to one another on the perspective of what education should be directed for, meaning that one outlooks the education as a process to serve the economy by preparing students for workforce (utilitarian perspective) emphasising centralisation and standardisation and the other has a view that education should allow the child to develop on its own manner and believes that learning should be a process of forming good citizens for the world, also calling for a more flexible and independent system of education.
This poster focuses on key dates on the evolution of the National Curriculum, the influences upon this developments and the educational principles that informed its design. Further criticism will also be discussed in the sense of how this changes can impact on children’s learning: this will be particularly focused on the impact of standardised testing.
Historical Development of the National Curriculum
The Education in the sixties was influenced by the humanist and child centred perspectives. The Plowden report (DfES, 1967) had a great impact at this time and encouraged a holistic, rounded education, care for children’s diverse needs and individualisation. Plowden stressed the need for the curriculum to be more flexible, suggesting that children should learn by discovery and play, also recommending schools to get more involved in their local communities (Gillard, 2004). Many names such as: Rousseau, Dewey, Froebel and Montessori supported these ideas. Rousseau himself expressed his views against students being subordinate to teachers and argued that memorization of facts would not lead to an education (Hayes, 2007). Dewey (1987) one of the most important names of progressive education also suggested that the best way to teach children is to let them play and explore freely, and the role of the teacher should be more as a facilitator rather than an instructor. In Dewey's view, the teacher should observe the interests of the child, observe the directions they naturally take, and then serve as someone who helps develop problem-solving skills (Field, 2001).
However, these as ideas were not seen in the same way by conservative politicians. The Black Paper (1978) was published debating the principles of the Plowden report, and towards the end of the period, child centred philosophies attracted...