The English National Curriculum: A Landmark in Educational Reform

Davies, Martin R.
February 1991
Educational Leadership;Feb1991, Vol. 48 Issue 5, p28
This article examines the National Curriculum stipulated in the British Education Reform Act of 1988. The National Curriculum represents a massive change in Great Britain. For the first time ever, all public elementary and high schools are required to follow a common curriculum, prescribed in law and set out in a statutory order for each of the 10 foundation subjects: English, mathematics, science, technology, a modern foreign language, history, geography, art, music, and physical education. Schools are also obliged by law to teach religious education and to provide a broad and balanced curriculum, in order to promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental, and physical development of students and prepare them for the opportunities and responsibilities of adult life. There are, of course, legitimate concerns about issues such as overcrowding and overloading the curriculum, teacher training and recruitment, testing and record-keeping, the provision of adequate specialist resources, and continuity post-16. There are many challenges in defining the national curriculum--in describing the skills, knowledge and understanding that each child is expected to develop in each subject area at each stage of schooling and in determining how they should be assessed and recorded.


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