History Resource Cupboard – lessons and resources for schools

History Resource Cupboard - lessons and resources for schools

Teaching Issues

Better the devil you don’t know?

When it comes to levels and history I have always had, what some might describe as a clear point of view. Put simply, the levels for history are an absolute nonesense and are not worth the paper they are written on. Marking one piece of work against a level is an absurdity. In a nutshell, the devil is in the levels.

Yesterday, the government announced its proposals for the new national curriculum for primary schools. Of course documents for the important subjects like history have not been published yet. Instead they have started with draft proposals for Maths, English and Science.  But nevertheless, Mr Gove has backed the expert panel’s advice to get rid of levels!!  However, judging by the backlash from one of these experts , this is seems to be the only thing that the government listened to. Andrew Pollard: http://ioelondonblog.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/proposed-primary-curriculum-what-about-the-pupils/

Back to levels…this is what it says on the DfE website: ‘the current system of levels and level descriptors – which is confusing for parents and bureaucratic for teachers – will be removed and not replaced.’

The implications  are massive. Schools have set up whole systems of tracking based on levels entered into databases. How will ofsted and others work out what 3 or 4 levels of progress looks like without the levels??  I’m guessing some other bonkers system will be invented to beat teachers with…but this really could throw things into chaos (or is that just wishful thinking?)

There is an acknowledgement that some form of benchmarking and assessment practice is needed. And the draft documents for English, Maths and Science lay out core knowledge to be learnt in years rather than in levels. And these lists just look like loads of stuff to be remembered? Really prescriptive too. Quite crazy really – surely this can’t be the future? Or is it just the past?

Lets hope that this doesn’t mean we will see lists of Kings and dates to be learnt in different year groups – we can but hope, but if the proposals that are published so far are anything to go by then hope is all we have.

Is it too early to wave goodbye to the levels? I hope not.  They do say to be careful what you wish for.  When it comes to assessment is it really better the devil you don’t yet know?


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