Impact o the National Curriculum or science
2 Department o Education and Science.The National Curriculum 5–16: A consultationdocument. London: HMSO; 1987.
“legislation should leave ull scope or proessional judgement...there must be spaceto accommodate the enterprise o teachers, ofering them sucient exibility in thechoice o content to adapt what they teach to the needs o the individual pupils, totry out and develop new approaches and to develop in pupils those personal qualitieswhich cannot be written into a programme o study or attainment target.”
Department of Education and Science, 1987
There was broad agreement that the National Curriculumhas brought about signicant improvements that include:the rst ever national entitlement to science educationor all students rom ve to 16a raising o standards in many schoolsensuring that students studied all the major scienticdisciplines, in particular increasing the number o girlsstudying physics to the age o 16establishing science as an important core element o theprimary curriculumimproving the continuity and transerability when youngpeople moved rom one school to another, whetherbetween phases or geographically.
The group agreed that the National Curriculum does notact in a vacuum. Its implementation is inuenced by acomplex web o outside actors – many o which, includingthe assessment and inspection regimes, were specicallydesigned to support its delivery. These actors havecontributed to teachers working in a climate o uncertainty, unsure o educational priorities. Osted andthe development o league tables have let teachers withthe impression that political measures or success are notaligned with their own educational aims or theirstudents. Schools want to provide rich and exibleexperiences that engage and develop young people.However, this has not been recognised as a nationalmeasure o success, with improvements in exam resultsbeing seen as the overwhelming priority.Teaching proessionals reported a lack o directengagement with the actual National Curriculum, otenusing a range o interpretations rom the Qualicationsand Curriculum Authority and awarding bodies. This hascaused additional conusion or teachers, creating theperception that the National Curriculum is moreconstraining and restrictive than is actually the case.Thus, over the years, the mistranslation o what wasoriginally intended has resulted in:many teachers eeling disempowered to teach in amanner appropriate to their students and circumstancesa strong sense o over-prescription in terms o thecontent o the curriculumincreased pressures to ‘teach to the test’ at all levelsrequent, apparently piecemeal, changes to thecurriculum in order to x shortcomings and meettop-down policy changestests and examinations dominating not just what istaught but also how it is taught.The group elt that the overall impact has underminedteacher condence to innovate, leaving them as delivererso the National Curriculum rather than as developers o arich and varied science education. This has resulted in anarrowing o the educational experience o young people.