The National Curriculum was introduced in England and Wales nearly twenty years ago in 1988 and to Northern Ireland in 1992. It was designed to outline a clear structure on how and what children were taught in schools, as at the time, it was viewed there were a number of inequalities in the education system across England and Wales. The National Curriculum would ensure that all pupils were given the same standard of education from primary through to secondary education.
Over the past seventeen years it has been continuously developing and evolving to improve the education of children in the UK and how education is assessed. As of September 2014, there were significant changes made to the Primary education curriculum for core subjects such as English, Maths, Science and History.
Revised Assessments and Grading
There have also been more recent changes to GCSE and AS and A-Level curriculums,which have resulted in teachers having to review the course content and how it is assessed. Traditionally GCSE, AS and A-Level examinations were assessed throughout the course of learning over a two year period, through course work and modular exams. However, the changes that have already come into place in September 2015 which include GCSE English Language, Literature and Mathematics will see a linear assessment, where the all examinations for the qualification will be sat at the end of the two years. Furthermore, the grading system will change from A*-G to 9-1, with 9 being the highest grade, equivalent to A**.
The changes for AS and A-Levels that happened in September 2015 affect core subjects such as Mathematics, English Language, English Literature, History, Physics, Biology and Chemistry. Interestingly, AS-Levels are now entirely separate qualifications to A-Levels and are no longer carried forward into the second year, but the course content for the first year of A-Level is the same as an AS-Level so can be taught simultaneously in classes with mixed AS and A-Level pupils.
Future Changes for GCSE
For those starting their GCSEs next year, there are more planned changes to the National Curriculum for September 2016 that will affect the course content for subjects like History, Science and Geography, as well as foreign languages German, French and Spanish.
There is more emphasis put on learning essential information that will benefit the students in their everyday life, so for example, the new History curriculum will cover three eras of history: Medieval (500-1500), Early Modern (1450-1750 and Modern (1700-present day). There will be a standard requirement for the study to up the 25% British history to at least 40%, as well as local history and the wider world. This puts even more emphasis on the importance of organised school trips to key places, such as London, where students can have a hands on approach to learning historical events and facts and get a broader view of British history and world history too.
Science is also undergoing significant changes to the assessments, with increased emphasis on practical assessment of 15%, and the separation of maths assessment to each individual science – biology 10%, Chemistry 20% and Physics 30% or 20% for Combined Science.
With these changes set to come into place in the next school year, it’s time to start thinking about how to ease the integration and optimise learning on all subjects, be it Science, History or Languages.
An effective way to maximise learning is with interactive school trips, such as a History trip to London or CERN Science trip to Geneva, where pupils can have a unique learning experience that will not only benefit them for learning and personal development.
Companies that arrange specifically designed school trips to complement the National Curriculum can help to expand your students’ horizons using practical learning. Adaptable Travel are one such company that are able to provide students with the experience of a lifetime.
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