Not so free of the National Curriculum ?

Just because we aren't following the National Curriculum doesn't mean it doesn't affect us....

As home educators we don’t have to study set subjects,  use particular methods or follow the National Curriculum. So the National Curriculum should surely be irrelevant to us unless we choose to follow it, or keep a vague eye on it as a comparison?

For most of the things we learn about this is true – we happily get on with it without a backward glance at the National Curriculum. But there comes a time when it steals into our world. It creeps into our education in subtle ways, often precisely because we aren’t following it.

As soon as you step outside the officially sanctioned topics, at the designated key stage it suddenly becomes much harder to find resources. Resources such as the BBC are, not surprisingly, geared towards the National Curriculum. Perhaps more surprisingly so are children’s book publishers, to a frustrating degree.

For our family this is especially noticeable when it comes to history. My eldest and I love history. We spend a lot of time reading and talking about it. It is the core of our child-led learning experience, because E is always looking for interesting historical tit bits, and I am always scouting ahead in order to find resources and information to feed her (and my own) appetite for more. The deeper we delve the more frustrating the droughts and the deluges become.
Some historical periods have almost nothing published for children. Try finding more than one or two books on Bronze Age Britain or the highly influential Phoenicians. Books become impossible to source from libraries, and increasingly difficult even through Amazon. Gems surface,  but are often out of print or only available from US, which has more of an emphasis on world history. Online it is a little easier as gaps can be filled in by resources created for other countries, but generally even children’s resources are wordy, and often aimed at the wrong level.

Even the favoured periods laid out in the National Curriculum are not with out problems. Here it turns from famine to feast, the kind of feast that leaves you stuffed, yet unsatisfied and regretful. The overwhelming numbers of resources and books, and the publishers’ desire to knock out more to meet the curriculum mean a flood of often poorly illustrated, incoherent and quite frankly boring books. Finding the gems is hard work, like finding the proverbial needle. And that is before we have dared to tackle a period outside the designated key stage.

In 2014 the current National Curriculum is to be replaced. One set of frustrations will inevitably be replaced by others. So publishers will fill in gaps for Bronze Age Britain, but other areas will remain or may even become poorly covered.

National Curriculum:

Primary National Curriculum until 2014 – History 
Secondary National Curriculum until 2014 – History

Changes to National Curriculum

Follow the discussions, and the controversy over changes to history curriculum

Other Curriculums