At the back end of 2013 the government published their proposed programmes of study for both KS3 and KS4 Maths, and then subsequently opened a consultation to these proposals which closed on 3rd February 2014. I have previously posted a summary of the content changes in terms (here’s the link) in terms of what is moving from Higher to Foundation tiers and also what topics are being newly introduced. Something that I am quite passionate about is the fact that there is so much “assumed” prior knowledge at KS4 that some cohorts won’t have covered as they would have been taught the old KS3 programme …. unless we are careful we could end up with a “lost generation” caught between the “old and the new” programmes of study.  As teachers we need to be aware of this and I am still amazed that there are teachers who aren’t aware of the implications, but trust me there are! Maybe because I’m in touch with lots of people because of JustMaths I tend to come across others who are similarly “on the ball” and maybe we aren’t reflective of the majority (I’m not suggesting that to be the case, I’m just pondering and thinking aloud!). I’ve thought about this (a lot!) and maybe we have become reliant on exam boards spoon-feeding us, or maybe we really do teach to the test, or because it all seems so very far off we have become a tad complacent.

Complacency isn’t or shouldn’t be an option – these changes are massive.

However, it would appear that we have become “something”, or maybe we just think it wouldn’t make a difference and that the changes are inevitable regardless of our actions (is that complacency or something else?). The governments consultation received just 61 responses   … read that again … yes! just ruddy 61 and I know of at least a dozen people that responded after being prompted on twitter!. Additionally, that number covers the proposed changes in Maths and English: In terms of Maths there were 42 responses on the content of the programme of study, and 36 responses on whether the programme of study provides appropriate progression from key stage 3. I’ve done a little summary below  but if you’re interested here is the full governments response to the responses (ooh that sounds like something from a “Two Ronnies” sketch) which was published this week:   

  • 11 of the 36 respondents felt that the draft programme of study provided appropriate progression from key stage 3, whereas 15 who disagreed. Which means that 10 had no view on it (possibly!?)
  • 8 of the 42 respondents thought the level of challenge and extra content was appropriate, which means that 34 felt that it was not appropriate. Some of the points made related to the content:
    •  being too challenging, particularly for less able students (18/42 respondents)
    •  being too large, which would place excessive demands on schools and teachers (10/42 respondents)
    •  not being consistent with key stages 1 to 3 (8 /42 responses).

If you’re so inclined please do read the governments full response – the main point, for me however, is that we were 39th out of 42 participating countries in the TIMSS 2011 survey in terms of the amount of time spent teaching Mathematics at the end of KS3 and it is anticipated that most schools will review the amount of time spent teaching Maths. It then went on to state that “An extra lesson each week would put England closer to jurisdictions such as Hong Kong and Singapore which both teach an average of 138 hours a year of mathematics at secondary level.” This feels a bit like we’re being advised that more teaching time is needed with one hand, and then the other hand is giving us more content to teach, which for some schools will negate the impact of the extra time!

Anyway, we’ve got what we’ve got and now have to deal with it positively.