The DfE have been trailing the idea of a model curriculum for history for a while now. They seem to miss the irony of the fact that Gove’s 2014 National Curriculum was heralded as THE best curriculum there was! If diversity was SO IMPORTANT – and it is – why did his curriculum fall so far short??
Yet, here we are then, less than 8 years later with calls for yet another chance to get it right – often from some of the same people who helped Gove write his curriculum! Thankfully Nick Gibb’s pernicious influence is a thing of the past. He’s gone. Calls for this more inclusive model curriculum continue, however, not least in response to recent reports such as the Sewell report.
What is the model curriculum?
Whatever the context, we now know the DfE are officially beginning work on a model curriculum for history. Few details have been released so far on what this will involve, or indeed who will be involved. History is so contentious after all.
Below is a summary of what we know so far:
- The model curriculum will be created for all but will not be mandatory in schools.
- The curriculum will aim to create a sense of belonging for pupils of different ethnic backgrounds as part of the UK.
- The model curriculum will take a knowledge-rich approach to enable “better curriculum design and sequencing”. Good luck with mixed aged classes in rural primary schools!!
- There will be a focus on Britain’s place in the world and on the national stories of the four nations of the UK.
- The DfE will consult “curriculum experts, historians and school leaders” to produce the curriculum for 2024. The process by which this group was/is being selected is not made clear.
- It appears this group is already being consulted and one of those in the group is Christine Counsell, who is a good person to be involved so at least that is encouraging.
- The DfE will signpost relevant resources to support the delivery of the model curriculum.
I know many of you carrying responsibility for teaching all primary subjects will think there is some advantage in having an ‘approved history curriculum’ rather than guessing what OFSTED will expect to see. But be careful what you wish for. Will it really meet all your pupils needs in every school in all contexts. At the very least, what about local history? And, having worked so hard to knock the 2014 curriculum into shape do you really want to start again with a new curriculum which may well be no better. Surely what we need is help to make our existing history curricular more inclusive. How about some well-worked and carefully resourced teaching packs that can be integrated flexibly into existing schemes. I just fear that in a rush to show a response to some critical reports ( they always blame schools don’t they!), which are largely driven by political expediency, yet more time will be wasted introducing something new, but not necessarily better, and at the real cost of de-professionalising a primary workforce that has done so well to adapt Gove’s flawed curriculum to make it work for their children.