No curriculum cultural impoverishment at Knighton
In a recent report in the TES (Times Educational Supplement) it reported that in an era of educational high-stakes accountability schools are dedicating more and more time to the ‘core’ subjects – maths and English – therefore robbing other subjects of previous classroom time. Critics fear that the decline of the arts subjects will leave children culturally impoverished. Meanwhile, despite concerns about obesity and mental health, children are less time in PE/Sport and PSHE lessons.
There are some worrying statistics which reveal there are significant changes to the balance of the curriculum in secondary schools over the past eight years.
- Maths, English and sciences now make up more than half (51%) of the teaching time at key stage 4 (Years 10 & 11), up from 44.5% in 2011.
- At key stage 3 (Years 7, 8 & 9), less time is being spent teaching music (down 11%), art (down 9%) and drama (down by 7%) compared with 2011. At key stage 4, music is down 12%, art down 20% and drama down 26%.
- Languages, French is down 11% and German 22% at key stage 4.
- 19% fewer hours at key stage 3 are devoted to Design and Technology and 40% less in key stage 4.
- ICT has fallen 51% in key stage 3.
- Schools spend 21% less time teaching PE to 14-16 year-olds than in 2011.
- The time spent on PSHE has dropped by a third in key stage 3 and by 47% in key stage 4.
Some schools may try and make up some of the lost hours lost in art, music and drama in extra-curricular time, but what message does this send to children? As the pressure of exams increases it’s easy to start dropping subjects from the curriculum such as PE, music and drama. Sue Wilkinson, chief executive of the Association for Physical Education & vice-chair of the Council for Subject Associations, says: “It’s quite clear that if pupils are physically healthy and emotionally well, they perform better academically”. Equally less time devoted to PSHE comes at a time when teachers are dealing with an increasing number of well-being and mental health issues with children.
At the very heart of developing our new KED (Knowledge Enlightenment Discovery) Curriculum at Knighton and a move away from Common Entrance, is to offer a broader and more balanced curriculum to the girls, particularly in Years 7 & 8, and crucially for teachers to continue teaching without downing tools for exam preparation. Addressing the needs of the girls in the broadest sense, intellectually, physically, emotionally and socially, in creating a progressive curriculum will provide us with endless possibilities – as educators that’s a really exciting prospect.
This term we will be taking our first steps, watch this space.