The National Curriculum, a history and its change through time.

The National Curriculum was implemented in 1988 in England and Wales, shortly followed by Northern Ireland in 1992. Its aim was to explain what children should be taught, ensuring each pupil was given the same standard of education. It allows each school to be on a level playing field, with each student receiving education in the same areas including core subjects such as English, mathematics, science and physical education.

The National Curriculum is always being worked on and updated, to bring future pupils more improved ways of learning as more modern and efficient methods are uncovered. Educational reform is often an important topic brought up in politics for various reasons, and there can often be huge upheavals to areas of the curriculum to continue a high standard of education. The government have claimed that curriculum changes are designed to catch up with the world’s best education systems.

Recent changes to National Curriculum

In the last couple of years, the National Curriculum has undergone some big changes in certain areas. The government said that the new, updated curriculum provides essential knowledge and skills for children as opposed to telling teachers how to teach. This can effectively give teachers a bit more freedom when it comes to shaping the curriculum to suit their pupils. The National Curriculum affects all 4 key stages, meaning it involves pupils aged 3-16.

The National Curriculum is often divided in to key stages 1 and 2, and then 3. They are issued by law and act as a statutory guidance for teachers. Recently, there have been some updates and changes to the History programme of study, which is a compulsory national subject up to key stage 3.

Primary education for History

Announced back in 2013, changes for History programme in key stage 1 and 2 came into place in September 2014. The National Curriculum stated that the subject should be taught in a chronological manner for the first time. The plan included the idea that children would learn a more complete history of Britain; looking at changes in Britain from the Stone Age to the Iron Age, the Roman Empire, Vikings and Anglo-Saxons.

Key historical figures should also play a part in the curriculum, such as Christopher Columbus, Neil Armstrong and Rosa Parks. These significant individuals have contributed in some way to national and international achievements and should be included in teaching.

Under key stage 2, Ancient Greece should be included and an overview of the first civilisations including the likes of Ancient Egypt, The Indus Valley or The Shang Dynasty of Ancient China. Travelling to the cities such as Beijing could broaden pupils’ learning as to how the world has progressed over the years.

Pupils are also expected to learn about a non-European society that provides contrasts with Britain, for example Baghdad or the Mayan civilisation.

Changes to GCSE History

Three areas of history are to be included in the curriculum for GCSE study, including Medieval, Early Modern and Modern, spanning from the year 500 to the present day. It is a requirement for pupils to study a minimum 40% when it comes to British history; an increase from the original 25%. Students at GCSE level must also study the history of the wider world, and undergo a thematic study from a period in history that lasts for at least 50 years. This should take on either a political, cultural, economic or religious theme. Politics and culture have often been at the centre of historical events; visiting somewhere such as Auschwitz in Poland or Berlin can add to your understanding of the world.

Changes to A-Level History

Students who choose to take History at A-Level are required to study topics from a chronological range of at least 200 years, with a strong focus on British history. Subject content retains a historical enquiry that is independently researched, investigating specific historical questions. There can be a lot said for going to see the places that have been pivotal in history for yourself; taking a history-orientated tour around London can provide a real sense of the history that has happened before us.

With so much of learning now incorporating other cultures and providing students with a more rounded education when it comes to history, it may be worth considering enhancing this process by taking students to the country in question. Learning outside of the classroom can often be very beneficial and using a company such as Adaptable Travel can ensure an educational trip that is in line with the National Curriculum.