In response to a request from @michaelt1979, here’s my state of play on the new curriculum. I’m going to split this into two parts: my experiences as a co-ordinator, and my experiences as a Year 3 class teacher.
At my (small) primary school, I look after History, Geography and French, as well as sticking my nose into ICT as much as the co-ordinator will let me, because I really like it.
In terms of French, my plan is business as normal: we’ve been teaching French for at least 5 years now (essentially, since I’ve been there -it’s my degree subject and my PGCE specialism), so all the kids, from F2 to Y6 have a weekly lesson, building from 15 minutes or so in F2, to 45 minutes in Y6. The scheme of work (a mix of the old QCA, and the Sunderland MFL stuff) is well embedded, and although I tweak things slightly every year, it works well and produces good results – and that’s official, since we had a subject inspection a couple of years ago. Probably the most fraught fortnight ever, but that’s another story for another time…
History and Geography are, clearly, far more involved. The changes are much more marked, and there’s a great deal of new content to get to grips with. From my initial panic at the draft issued about a year ago, I calmed down somewhat when the final version was produced, looking like something we could actually teach. Thanks to a clearer curriculum, and some great documentation available on the Curriculum 2014 blog, I was able to take some ideas to staff. This works well at my small school, as a full staff meeting is at most 10 or 12 people, so we’re able to have a group discussion about what we want. Using the slides below, I ran through the changes, and then came the real ‘meat’ of the meeting for me: what were we going to do where? I recognise that in a much bigger school, you just wouldn’t be able to do this in the same collaborative way, but for us, it was brilliant. It gave everyone their say, and hopefully will leave teachers feeling they ‘own’ the new material.
A few notes on these slides: there are a few working annotations, that I can’t now recall what they meant! The colour coding on the KS2 History slide also represents our decisions about how to divide up the units between year groups, at least for now. Yellow = Y3, green = Y4, blue = Y5, orange = Y6. The only one we’re probably still slightly unsure of is the local history unit. At the moment that resides in Y3, we said Y6, but I’m not sure whether it will stay there or not.
For geography, our proposal is to have a ‘place’ unit each year, a ‘physical geography’ unit each year, and an ‘other’ unit. Clearly all of these can be taught with some cross-over, and I’d expect staff to do this however they find most helpful.
In essence, then, my approach to this as a co-ordinator was to be well informed myself, and to consult widely. My impression by the end of the staff meeting was that people had a reasonable idea of what was coming down the line, and hopefully weren’t totally terrified. The general feeling by the end was one of ‘can do’. A clear sense of some work to be done, especially on the the new material in KS2, but overall: we can do this.