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Why do Teachers and Educators have Mixed Views on the 2014 Primary National Curriculum?

Teachers planning the primary national curriculum
Numerous educators have praised the primary curriculum and its focus on core knowledge and skills in reading, writing and mathematics. Some, however, have criticised the curriculum offers little room for creativity and individuality.

The 2014 primary national curriculum refers to the set of educational standards and guidelines for primary schools in England that were introduced in September 2014. The curriculum sets out what children in primary schools should be taught in English, mathematics, science, computing, history, geography, art and design, design and technology, music, physical education and languages.

The key stages 1 and 2 framework forms part of the 2014 primary national curriculum, taught to children between the ages of 5 and 11. Key stage 1 covers pupils in their first two years of formal education (ages 5-7), while key stage 2 covers the next four years (ages 7-11). The framework is designed to provide a broad and balanced education for learners.

In key stage 1, children learn basic skills in reading, writing and mathematics, and begin to develop an understanding of the world around them. They are also introduced to science, history and geography through topics such as plants, animals, the human body and local history.

In key stage 2, the curriculum becomes more challenging, emphasising developing independent thinking and problem-solving skills. Pupils continue to study English, mathematics, science, history, geography and other subjects.

The national curriculum has received conflicting reviews for its content and delivery as not all KS1 and KS2 educators are satisfied with its content and delivery. After gathering educators’ thoughts on it, we have highlighted the advantages and disadvantages of the curriculum, which are described in this article.

Advantages of the Primary National Curriculum

Clarity
Provides clear guidance on what learners should be learning in each subject, which can help to ensure consistency across different primary schools and regions.

Rigour
Sets high expectations for pupils in terms of what they should know and be able to do, which can help to raise standards and improve educational outcomes.

Breadth
Covers a wide range of core and foundation subjects composed of a wealth of statutory requirements, attainment targets, learning outcomes and guidance.

Progression
The primary curriculum is designed to build knowledge and skills progressively, each year building on the previous one, which can help ensure that pupils are well-prepared for the next stage of their education.

Flexibility
While the curriculum sets out what should be taught, it also allows for some flexibility in how it is taught, giving schools and teachers the freedom to develop their own approaches to delivering the content.

Disadvantages of the Primary National Curriculum

Overcrowding
Some educators argue that the curriculum is too crowded, with too many subjects to cover in the time available, which can lead to a focus on rote learning and a lack of depth in some areas.

Narrowness
The curriculum is too focused on traditional academic subjects, with little attention given to other essential areas such as social and emotional development, citizenship and creativity.

Testing
Closely linked to the national assessments, also known as SATs, which some argue puts too much pressure on learners and teachers to perform well on these tests and can lead to a narrowing of the curriculum.

Inflexibility
Allows for little flexibility in delivery; the curriculum is quite prescriptive regarding what should be taught and when. This can limit teachers’ ability to respond to their pupils’ needs and interests.

Lack of Consultation
The primary curriculum was developed without sufficient consultation with teachers, parents and other stakeholders, leading to dissatisfaction and resistance to its implementation.

In conclusion, the 2014 primary national curriculum offers learners in KS1 and KS2 a comprehensive and balanced education that gives them the knowledge and skills they need to flourish in the future. Yet, as the disadvantages demonstrate, not all teachers favour the curriculum due to a lack of creativity. It is also worth noting that some advantages and disadvantages conflict, such as the curriculum’s flexibility and inflexibility.

In light of this, and to lessen the workload of teachers, Classroom Stars offers a variety of primary resources, worksheets and activities that align with the primary national curriculum. Our resources are simple and practical for educators to use in their lessons, and are engaging and beneficial for children.

If you liked this article, you might want to read The Bard in the Primary Classroom: Unveiling the Magic of Shakespeare for Young Children.

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