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Free Radical

Andy Smart
17:00  |  17 September 2010

How lucky we are that the excitement of last minute decision making has spread to education. You remember in 2008 the lastminute KS3 curriculum, now it's been extended to GCSE.

It's less than a year until new specifications and assessment are supposed to start, and awarding bodies have not had their specs accredited yet (they were all rejected).

Once again there's little time for schools to consider their options, and no time for any proper curriculum development. As usual the victims of will be science teachers and students.

It seems the only people with anything to gain from this ramshackle system are exam boards and publishers. On the TES forum it was suggested they're in league with each other. Conspiracy theorists can see publishers rubbing their hands at statements like this one from the new specifications "no major change, but we're freshening up the specification"

A powerful rationale for a new syllabus indeed. The ex-Curriculum Director of QCA, Mick Waters went further in a book just published, and claimed the exam system is "diseased" and "almost corrupt".

My personal disappointment in the new specifications is the absence of the Big Ideas. In general they're more like a shopping catalogue than a coherent curriculum. The major insights of science lie like sunken ships under the sea of content. And textbooks just flesh out the syllabus with more words and pictures It's particularly galling after all the work done at KS3 to provide a coherent set of Big Ideas.

So as usual, forces schools and curriculum developers like my team to try to fashion a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

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