The National Curriculum states: every ‘school must offer a curriculum which is balanced and broadly based,’ and ‘is just one element in the education of every child. There is time and space in the school day and in each week, term and year to range beyond the national curriculum specifications.’
No one would disagree with that, but the reality is that the school day quickly becomes clogged up with timetabled sessions: phonics, guided reading, literacy, numeracy, assemblies, and the most dreaded of all ‘interventions!’ If we’re not careful the ‘broad and balanced’ bit of the curriculum is squeezed into roughly two and a half hours a week (if you’re lucky!)
When we come to assessment, OFSTED tells us: ‘teachers and other staff (should) have a secure understanding of the age group they are working with and have relevant subject knowledge that is detailed and communicated well to pupils.’
In a primary context we are still grappling with the recent changes to the curriculum, and are just beginning to understand what ‘children (should) know, understand and can do’ in English and maths, and maybe science. But what about the other subjects? The National Curriculum devotes 162 pages to English, maths and science and 24 pages to the other eight subjects. So, what does music in Y4 look like? Or history in Y5? And what about art in Year 1? It’s not hard to see how tricky it can be!
I have been attempting to provide an outline structure for teachers to use as a starting point for planning; demonstrating what the progression of skills might look like across the primary school in a range of subjects. The thinking behind these documents is that teachers can have a clearer idea about the skills to be taught within their year group from the outset and can plan accordingly. The focus in Year 1 is the child, their family and locality and progressively grows outwards until Year 6 are learning about the wider world, this helps to show progression across the school as each year builds on the previous one.
No two pupils are the same, neither are two classes or two schools, so the thinking behind the progression of skills documents is that schools can personalise them, adapt them and play around with them to meet the needs of their pupils, but with the security that they are providing a broad balanced curriculum with a clear progression of skills.