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 document? Answer: 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 Comments: 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. PURPOSE OF STUDY 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? Answer: 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 potential. 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 Comments: 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? Answer: 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 ...games. 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 Comments: 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 X Comments: Question 8 Does the new National Curriculum embody an expectation of higher standards for all children? • Yes • No X • Not sure • No Response Comments: 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 standards. Question 9 What impact - either positive or negative - will our proposals have on the 'protected characteristic' groups. Answer: 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? Answer: 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? Answer: 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 learners. 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? Answer: 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 Comments: 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? Answer: 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.) Answer: 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.