National Curriculum Consultation –LAHAL response April 2013
Question 1
Do you have any comments on the proposed aims for the
National Curriculum as a whole as set out in the framework
The top level aims do not read as clear aims, but rather as a
description of what the NC is and what is in it. The aims of the NC
2007 focused appropriately on relevant outcomes to help individuals
meet the challenges of 21st century living i.e. by becoming successful
learners, responsible citizens, confident individuals. These aims
communicated respect for the autonomy of young learners and young
people in society.
The proposed aims (2014) seem to be unnecessarily autocratic in
that they specify what the NC will 'provide' for pupils or 'engender'.
This is reflective of a 'top-down' 'approach which can be accused of
placing government expectations rather than the needs of young
people at the heart of the education process, they outline pretty much
what children will be given, rather than what the curriculum could
enable them to become.
Question 2
Do you agree that instead of detailed subject-level aims we
should free teachers to shape their own curriculum aims based
on the content in the programmes of study?
• Agree
• Disagree X
• Not sure
• No Response
In the proposed PE curriculum, the subject level aims are the only
useful part, but unfortunately the suggested content does not reflect
them. The subject aims should be common aims that will really make
a difference to the lives of children and young people, whoever and
wherever they are and have access to and along with the NC aims
are essential in curriculum design. Subject-related aims would be
best decided in collaboration with relevant subject-specific
professional associations (eg Association for Physical Education)
who would be able to suggest subject-related aims that complement
the aims of NC. The link between the NC aims and 'the importance
of Physical Education' statement was clear in the 2007 NC document.
If teachers are to be allowed 'greater flexibility' it should be in relation
to how they interpret subject-level aims in the content of their long,
medium and short term plans. Their interpretation can be made in
relation to the specific and varied needs of the pupils in their schools.
This is important if the needs of all pupils in all schools are to be met.
What this question is suggesting is the wrong way round. Sound
common aims for all children should shape the content of the
programmes of study, not the other way around.
We support the intention of bullet points 2 and 4 in the proposed
Physical Education aims. They are underpinned with the notion that
'more people, more active, more of the time' is beneficial for health.
However, the language does not reflect the complexities involved in
physical activity promotion which, essentially involves developing not
just a love of being active but also skills, competencies and selfefficacy essential for effective behaviour change. Perhaps these 2
aims could be better expressed as follows.
To ensure that all pupils: feel empowered to make positive and wellinformed decisions about the role of physical activity to promote
health and well-being in their own and others' lives.
E.g. bullet 4 states that one of the aims is to ensure that all pupils
lead healthy active lives. However there is no specific mention of the
importance of explicitly including learning about healthy active
lifestyles until KS4. Prior to this the emphasis is on taking part in
sports in school as preparation for partaking out of school. The love
of exercise and being physically active needs to infiltrate throughout
the key stages from the earliest age possible, through explicit
learning about the importance and relevance of leading a healthy
active lifestyle. Only if this is achieved at an early stage, will young
people want to get involved in sport and physical activity, within and
outside of school.
The first subject-related aim uses the exclusive and elitist term 'excel'
- perhaps more inclusive and appropriate wording might be: To
ensure all pupils: develop competence and confidence to participate
in a broad range of physical activities.
The language in this part of the document is:
a) exclusive and elitist in its aspiration for participation ie the word
'excel' is not an inclusive word.
b) narrow in its focus in that it highlights 'competitive sport' and
'highly-demanding' activities.
b) archaic and outdated eg 'build character' ' fairness' 'respect'.
We suggest that this statement might read:
High quality Physical Education should inspire all pupils to lead
healthy active lifestyles, to enjoy and achieve in and through
participation in a range of sports and physical activities and make a
positive contribution to school and society.
More appropriate wording for the last sentence might be:
Opportunities to benefit physically, socially, and emotionally from
regular and purposeful participation in physical activity and sport.
Question 3
Do you have any comments on the content set out in the draft
programmes of study?
Whilst the aim is for brevity, the result is simply concise prescription.
In the absence of a thorough programme of professional
development linked with the new curriculum, many teachers will take
the content and teach to it directly, verbatim, resulting in a worryingly
narrow sports led curriculum.
The stated purpose of study must be questioned - does a high quality
PE curriculum necessarily inspire all pupils to succeed and excel in
competitive sport? This is merely one very small aspect of what high
quality PE might achieve.
It goes on to suggest that it should provide opportunities for pupils to
become physically confident in a way which supports their health, but
this element of the purpose of PE is not developed within the content
at all. Learning about healthy active lifestyles is not an explicit focus
for learning in every key stage, however, suddenly pupils are
expected to know about and want to be fit and healthy in KS4.
In order for curriculum aims to be reached it is essential that subject
content progressively builds the relevant knowledge, skills,
understanding, attitudes and competencies. Progression, continuity
and cohesion between the key stages is an outstandingly weak
feature of the draft PoS for PE.
e.g. language relating to 'comparing performances' does not progress
from KS 2-4. Language relating to progression is often very weak
such as ‘ take part in competitive sport’ (KS3) and ‘continue to take
part in competitive sport’ (KS4).
The content of each key stage focuses almost exclusively on pupils
'learning to move'. Whilst ‘learning to move’ is a central and very
important element of Physical Education, there is a danger that if
used in isolation and with narrow interpretation the performance of
the activity is seen as an end in itself e.g. play competitive games,
perform dances.
In addition the scope of the content needs to embrace a much wider
range of relevant processes e.g. creating, designing, planning,
applying, evaluating.
There should also be an explicit focus in the subject content on
'moving to learn' e.g. pupils learning the following through PE - how
to be more confident, how to work effectively with others, how to
solve problems, how to decide targets, carry out plans, be resilient
and stay committed.
The activity contexts mentioned in the content is sometimes overly
prescriptive, restrictive and traditional. For example, the content
prescribes the playing of competitive games and participation in
dance and outdoor and adventurous activities (OAA). Whilst it is
likely that many teacher would make positive decisions to include
these activities as contexts for learning, the way they are prescribed
in the proposed content is hardly conducive with the intention to give
teachers flexibility to design a curriculum to suit the specific needs of
their pupils.
The brief rhetoric that introduces each key stage content once again
is not reflected within that content, and whilst teachers may have the
'freedom' to interpret and develop the content as it is set out,
pressure of assessment and inspection, targets and expectations,
along with lack of training will prevent them in many cases from
straying from the prescription provided.
A great deal of research has shown that informed knowledge and
understanding about promoting healthy lifestyles in schools is very
poor amongst teachers and trainee teachers (Miller and Housner
1998, Cale 2000, Castelli & Williams 2007, Harris 2013), and as a
result this underpinning element of the PE curriculum is either not
taught or is taught poorly (Miller & Housner 1998, Castelli & Williams
2007). As long as the content of the proposed curriculum fails to
highlight this as a key area of learning for pupils throughout the key
stages, schools will fail to engage and enable young people to make
informed decisions about leading healthy active lives whilst at school
and beyond. PE is not and should not be simply about a skills based
curriculum for learning a range of different sports to a competitive
level. Whilst we want pupils to be physically literate, we want them to
have the opportunities to develop this physical literacy in ways that
they feel are relevant to them, their circumstances, and their goals.
Unless PE teachers are themselves confident in these as the
outcomes of a quality PE curriculum, they will fail to manipulate this
content in ways that will reach all pupils, or event begin to identify this
Question 4
Does the content set out in the draft programmes of study
represent a sufficiently ambitious level of challenge for pupils at
each key stage?
• Sufficiently ambitious
• Not sufficiently ambitious X
• Not sure
• No Response
Challenge is absent in the content of draft PoS for PE. This is
because few relevant ADVERBS and/or ADJECTIVES are used to
describe the depth/complexity/scope/range/application of the skills,
knowledge and understanding to be developed through each key
stage. For example pupils could progress from learning to describe
elements of their own and others work at KS 1 to being able to
provide feedback to make improvements based on their own
observations/judgments at KS 4. In a similar way pupils could
progress from describing the short- term effects of exercise at KS 1 to
planning a personal exercise programme to fulfil a specific healthrelated purpose at KS 4.
The language for learning in the content has a very narrow focus ie
on physical performance and needs to embrace a much wider range
of relevant processes e.g. creating, designing, planning, applying,
evaluating. This would help to achieve more challenge in the scope
of the content.
The content is heavily weighted to sport and is sport competition
driven. This will immediately exclude a large proportion of pupils who
are either unable or unwilling to pursue this route because they see
little relevance in it for them. It immediately sets up a culture of
winning and losing, success and failure. Competition in itself is not a
bad thing, but competition and challenge against yourself to achieve
a relevant physically active or healthy lifestyle goal is not encouraged
through this content. Those who want a sports route may well find
challenge is provided for them, many of those who do not, will not
want a meaningless challenge, and will tire of an ethos of sporting
failure until they are very quickly turned off PE completely.
Question 5
Do you have any comments on the proposed wording of
the attainment targets?
There is an anomaly between the proposed attainment targets and
the matters, skills and processes in the subject content. At key stage
1-3 there is no subject content directly related to achieving the aim
that all pupils should 'lead healthy active lifestyles'. Is it assumed that
young people will just automatically reach this important aim merely
by working towards the other objectives associated with the subject
content of each key stage? We would recommend that young people
are taught to feel empowered to make informed and positive
decisions about the role of physical activity in promoting health and
well-being in their own and others' lives.
In the NC 2007 progress was appropriately and relevantly tracked in
relation to the generic KEY PROCESSES. This made a lot of sense
in that these key processes embraced the skills, knowledge and
understanding relevant to learning in and through Physical Education.
Making progress in relation to one of the key processes through one
context (eg gymnastics) was largely transferable to other contexts (eg
athletics) thus often allowing a seamless transition in terms of
progress. Thus activities were contexts for making progress, rather
than ends in themselves.
The proposed subject content refers to pupils being taught to:
participate in team games, perform dances, play competitive games,
take part in OAA, develop their technique to improve their
performance in These statements highlight that the
activities are seen as ends in themselves rather than contexts for
promoting learning that help young people to develop as successful
learners, responsible citizens and confident individuals.
It is of concern that in reality what will be assessed from this
curriculum is that pupils know 'skills' - as in sports skills. It is likely to
some extent that their understanding may be assessed, but we are
doubtful whether their application and appreciation and transferability
of the processes will be suitably assessed and seen to hold more
importance than simply being 'good at sport'.
Question 6
Do you agree that the draft programmes of study provide for
effective progression between the key stages?
• Agree
• Disagree X
• Not sure
• No Response
There is some progression between KS1 & 2, although to a certain
extent this is simply about additional activities being introduced,
rather than progressive objectives or outcomes. There is little
progression between KS3 & 4, and an absence of promoting more
independent learning or applying previous learning in different, more
challenging contexts.
Comparing 'their performances with previous ones to achieve their
personal best' can hardly be cited as effective progression without
pupils understanding what they are looking for, and that progression
could be about becoming more aware of the type of activity that suits
them over time, and using that information to design a personal
activity programme, as well as simply monitoring that they can
throwing a javelin further now than two years ago. In a number of
cases, language relating to progression is often very weak eg take
part in competitive sport (KS3) and continue to take part in
competitive sport (KS4)
How does 'taking part in outdoor and adventurous activities............' to
develop of range of skills and competencies, progress simply by
'taking part in "further" outdoor and adventurous activities" to develop
the same skills and competencies? There is a great deal of additional
work that needs to be done with the POS in order to try to ensure
progression. This along with continuity and cohesion between the key
stages is an outstandingly weak feature of the draft PoS for PE.
Again the overall aim (bullet 4) of the PE curriculum - to ensure that
all pupils lead healthy, active lives, is not backed up with any
progressive objectives, learning about healthy active lifestyles is not
an explicit focus for learning in every key stage until it becomes an
expectation in KS4 that pupils "should get involved in physical activity
that is focused on promoting healthy and active lives or developing
personal fitness". Where in the curriculum prior to this is the
progressive learning that enables them to know how to do this?
Question 7
Do you agree that we should change the subject information and
communication technology to computing to reflect the content
of the new programmes of study?
• Agree
• Disagree
• Not sure
• No Response
Question 8
Does the new National Curriculum embody an expectation of
higher standards for all children?
• Yes
• No X
• Not sure
• No Response
The (PE) curriculum comes across as very exclusive with very
obvious indications of old public school sports days. The document
needs to abandon terms like 'elite' and 'excel' to explore a more
inclusive and 'richer' range of words to describe progressive
expectations in terms of pupils' learning and progress.
Unless pupils are fortunate enough to have very creative and
innovative PE teachers, much of the curriculum holds little relevance
for a large number of children, and as a consequence puts limits on
their ability to achieve high standards if they are fed a sports
dominated curriculum and are made to feel that are not 'sporty
people'. The proposed curriculum whether intentionally or not, implies
that 'higher standards' equate to better sports performance - phrases
such as 'improve your performance' and' improve your personal best'
are linked to sports performance, and give little credit to achieving
high standards in other areas of the PE curriculum, such as
developing their personal and social skills through physical activity, or
achieving a high standard by increasing their physical activity levels
over time. Higher standards in any subject relate to the extent and
rate of progress and level of achievements of pupils. In the proposed
PE PoS, weakness in the language of progression results in unclear
communication about expectations in terms of pupils achieving higher
Question 9
What impact - either positive or negative - will our proposals
have on the 'protected characteristic' groups.
This is a huge question to address in a small response. At its simplest
level, as suggested above the PE curriculum will potentially allow
many PE departments to become wholly sports and competitive
sports focused (even more so than now!).
The proposed PE PoS largely reflects a post-war, public school ethos
in terms of its references to building character and embedding 'good'
values and in relation to its unwavering belief in the value of
competitive games as the main vehicle through which every child will
achieve. It is indeed questionable whether this ethos was ever
successful with more than a minority of talented sports performers in
the public school environment in which it germinated, let alone with
the increasingly diverse population of young people we find in our
schools today.
It is highly questionable as to whether the proposals will ensure that
all pupils, irrespective of background or circumstance will have the
opportunity to acquire the essential knowledge and skills to succeed
in life and as a result many children, including many from these
protected groups will be excluded.
PE can make a significant contribution to young people being healthy,
enjoying and achieving and making a positive contribution to school
and society. However, in order to do so, it must be allowed to move
with the times and to develop and change in response to the needs of
21st century learners. Whilst the development of physical skill will
always be an important focus for learning, professionals should be
encouraged to explore how PE can make a unique and valuable
contribution to the development of pupils personal learning and
thinking skills and social and emotional intelligence which are
necessary in the development of self-efficacy. This is important for all
children but particularly for some 'protected characteristic groups'. It
certainly represents a more relevant, autonomous and inclusive
alternative to ‘character building’!!
The quality of the teacher, teaching, and the availability of additional
professional development will go some way to addressing this, but at
face value, we feel that the impact could be a negative one.
Question 10
To what extent will the new National Curriculum make clear to
parents what their children should be learning at each stage of
their education?
As intended, given that the curriculum is short, it will be easy for
parents to read and try to understand. However parents (in many
cases) are not teachers, they lack the understanding and experience
to fully appreciate what a good PE curriculum can provide. For most
parents, as long as their children are kept busy and active, they don't
tend to question the actual 'learning'.
For those parents whose memories of school PE was a sports
dominated curriculum within which they 'failed', they may be surprised
to see that things have not moved on a great deal. For those more
aware of the wider health issues experienced by much of the
population due to inactivity, it should be clear to them that this
curriculum does little to address learning in this area.
Question 11
What key factors will affect schools’ ability to implement the new
National Curriculum successfully from September 2014?
The answer to this question lies in the astute quotation used in the
Reform of NC document: Curriculum reform is not enough. No
education system can be better than the quality of its teachers (DfE
2010). The key to successful interpretation of the new NC is the
quality of the teachers as inspirational and creative innovators,
planners, pedagogues. Where little creativity and innovation is
adopted, secondary schools will be able to simply match the skills of
their staff to those indicated as 'acceptable' in the curriculum and
teach those activities. There is an opportunity for schools to deliver a
very narrow programme within this curriculum.
For those who look at it from a pupils needs led perspective, it will be
time that is the barrier, the time to really look closely at the curriculum
in terms of the child's complete journey through PE in schools as one
that will encourage them to lead a healthy active lifestyle beyond
school and into adulthood. In primary schools, there may be a staff
skills shortage. Whilst there is a great opportunity to develop this
aspect of the curriculum bearing in mind the recent primary funding
announcement, to utilise this effectively as part of an overall re-look
at the curriculum will be a difficult task.
Other factors which will impact on successful implementation are:
a) The belief of personnel, particularly head teachers, in the
significance and worth of the NC framework to help them to in shape
a curriculum that is relevant to meet the needs of 21st century
b) The respect of personnel, particularly head teachers, for the NC
framework in terms of how it embodies their own ethos, ambitions
and expectations for their pupils.
c) Schools being able to make effective use of the flexibility of the NC
(ie. no levels of attainment) as an opportunity to decide how pupils
will make progress in learning.
d) Schools devoting adequate time and funding to enable teachers to
think, interpret and develop their understanding of the new NC
framework as well as to prepare and plan effectively.
e) Schools having to prioritise plans to become Academies/ITT
partnerships above increasing their professional understanding and
considering the implications of the new NC framework.
e) Schools relying solely on their internal knowledge and expertise to
interpret the new NC and make plans for implementation.
f) PE teachers having sufficient knowledge, understanding and skills
to be effective promoters of physical activity. There is an increasing
amount of research which indicates that many teachers are in need of
professional development in relation to promoting effective learning
about healthy active lifestyles but that few engage in relevant PD
because they tend to be overconfident in their knowledge and ability
to teach this important component of the curriculum (Harris, 2013;
Miller & Housner 1998; Cale 2000; Cardon and De Bourdeauhuij
2002; Castelli and Williams 2007; Miller and Housner 1998; Armour
and Harris 2008; Ward, Cale, and Webb 2008).
Question 12
Who is best placed to support schools and/or develop resources
that schools will need to teach the new National Curriculum?
For PE, the Association of Physical Education, the PE subject
association is best placed to lead on this, as they are able to identify
experienced professionals in this field to support schools and develop
resources to support delivery of the new NC. It has:
a) an increasing and relevant membership
b) access to a network of relevant consultants and experts who can
develop resources and associated professional development
c) a proven track record in providing this type of help and support
In addition there is an increasing range of freelance education
consultants (some of which are former LA education advisers) who
are providing excellent PD support on a local and national level. The
Association for PE has a Professional Development Board which
recognises and kitemarks those providing high quality resources and
professional development.
We must be mindful of the demise of the Local Authorities in many
areas has resulted in a parallel disintegration of local professional
development support for teachers.
Question 13
Do you agree that we should amend the legislation to disapply
the National Curriculum programmes of study, attainment
targets and statutory assessment arrangements, as set out in
section 12 of the consultation document?
• Agree X
• Disagree
• Not sure
• No Response
Our understanding is that this will give schools more time to make a
smoother transition from one curriculum to the other.
Question 14
Do you have any other comments you would like to make about
the proposals in this consultation?
Question 15
Please let us have your views on responding to this consultation
(e.g. the number and type of questions, whether it was easy to
find, understand, complete etc.)
Very straightforward, well directed. Questions are supplemented with
comment boxes which reassures the contributor that their response
will be fully understood. Unfortunately, again the timing of the
consultation was poor, as a large part of it spanned the school
holiday period, when those most involved would be least likely to
access it.
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