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Department for Education: National Curriculum Review Key Stage 1-3

The Department of Education has launched a consultation on the Draft Legislative Order as part of the National Curriculum Review. The original documents can be found on the government consultation webpage.

Submitted 23rd July 2013 

  • The Geological Society is the UK’s learned and professional body for geoscience, with more than 10,500 Fellows (members) worldwide. The Fellowship encompasses those working in industry, academia and government with a broad range of perspectives on policy-relevant science, and the Society is a leading communicator of this science to government bodies and other non-specialist audiences.

Question 4: Do you have any comments on the revised draft programmes of study or attainment targets for science?

  • We are pleased to see that there is better integration and more coherent treatment of Earth science topics between the science and geography programmes of study at KS1-3 than was the case in the draft curriculum published in February 2013. We recognise the challenge of appropriately allocating Earth science content across the core school subjects. Although there are areas of detail in which we might have done this differently, a sensible approach has been taken at KS1-3, and we are supportive of the outcome.
  • We welcome the adoption of most of the main recommendations we made in our response to the consultation on the February 2013 draft curriculum regarding the science programme of study at KS1-3. In particular, the teaching of the rock cycle in KS3 Chemistry is an important addition which gives coherence to related content at this and other key stages. Similarly, the teaching of the carbon cycle in KS3 Chemistry will set the context for learning about fossil fuels and CCS at KS4, as well as being an important topic in its own right.
  • It is disappointing that the curriculum does not highlight what different kinds of scientist besides chemists, physicists and biologists – such as geologists – do. As we highlighted in our earlier response, this would be helpful in raising students’ awareness of the opportunities which exist for further study and careers in a wide range of sciences and engineering. The future prosperity and well-being of the UK will depend on the supply of trained personnel in these fields.
  • The recommendations we made in our response to the February 2013 draft curriculum referred to proposed KS4 science content (although that was not the subject of consultation at that stage), because of the need to think about the relationship between content taught across subjects and at different key stages. We note that the draft GCSE content for science does not conform with our recommendations in all cases, and we will be responding to the separate consultation on this, recognising that it will inform the revised KS4 curriculum.

Question 9: Do you have any comments on the revised draft programmes of study or attainment targets for science?

  • As noted above, we are pleased to see better integration and more cohesion in Earth science topics than previously.
  • We are pleased to see that the reference to plate tectonics in KS3 geography has been strengthened, by putting it in a more sensible context with related Earth science content. The reference to geological timescales here is particularly helpful. We continue to believe that an introduction to plate tectonics at this stage, as a driver for geographical processes and features, would best be complemented by a deeper understanding of it as a unifying scientific theory in Earth science in KS4 physics.