Which educational opus says the most about you?
SOMEONE POSTED a photograph of the 1999 national curriculum on Twitter recently – you know, the one with wire binding and fancy pictures on each subject page?
What ensued was commentary from the more “experienced” among us. “Ha, you think that’s a national curriculum? I remember when you needed to hire a small van to carry home all the folders,” was the gist.
I’m of the generation that was subjected to the many attainment targets of the original curriculum at school, but never had to teach it. It strikes me that we can each be dated by the oldest education tome we own. Which is yours?
Plowden Report (1967)
There’s every chance you’ve retired now, or maybe you’re still keeping your hand in with a bit of supply at a familiar village school. There’s no doubt teaching isn’t what it once was. You may well hanker for the integrated days with a class of 38. The thought of being without a teaching assistant brings you no fear; the only thing that does scare you is an electronic register.
Cockcroft Report (1982)
You’re probably not the maths subject leader anymore. You’ve long since moved into senior leadership, or maybe into something different, but you’re still a mathematician at heart. All this talk of mastery is amusing, not least because so much of what you hear touted as innovative practice now is exactly what you were doing 30 years ago. And the circle continues…
National curriculum folders (1989)
You’re no doubt battle-scarred from your initial encounter with this beast. You cling to the files like a former smoker might keep an old lighter: as a memento to say you survived. You’ve seen curriculum documents come and go since, and taken each with a greater pinch of salt. When new teachers complain about how much content is in the curriculum, you have learned to contain your guffaws.
Literacy Strategy (1997)
You’re in league with the devil. What’s wrong with you? Maybe it’s a sort of Stockholm syndrome? You probably still twitch if the first part of your lesson takes even a second more than the 15 minutes allocated. You’ve taught from hundreds of different books – but mostly only photocopied extracts. Having a whole class reader is a great excitement, but also feels like cheating.
Excellence and Enjoyment (2003)
You haven’t really read it, have you? It was probably given to you on teacher training or in your formative years, and just the title was enough to make things sound better than they were. You will have stopped now, but for a while you found yourself in staff training sessions asking “but what about Excellence and Enjoyment?” You probably complained at the loss of Every Child Matters, too. You’re not a fan of the new curriculum, but you’ve learned to subvert it.
National curriculum (2013)
Wait…you bought a hard copy? Good grief. That clear sign of keenness suggests you were very new to the profession when the curriculum arrived. You’ll have colleagues who wouldn’t commit until the last minute, telling you tales of the disappearing Rose curriculum – which will mean nothing to you. You try to avoid conversations about how much worse things are, especially with that old curmudgeon who keeps going on about 10 different folders! Don’t worry: your time will come.
Michael Tidd is deputy head at Edgewood Primary School in Nottinghamshire @Michaelt1979