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National Curriculum

Home Educators in the UK are not required to follow the National Curriculum. Here are some reasons to consider letting go of the National Curriculum as the basis of your home education!

I set out below some of the main objections to the National Curriculum, both in its present form, and as a concept:-

Non-individual Education Programmes

The National Curriculum does not take into account individual children’s aptitudes, interests or abilities (or, for that matter, their God-given talents and gifts); neither can it hope to do so in the context of the large-classes in State schools, for which the curriculum is primarily aimed. For that reason alone, it may be unsuitable for home education. Home educators, on the other hand, are able to devise individual programmes tailored to suit each child.

Knowledge as Consequential Chunks

The National Curriculum works on the basis that the body of knowledge children need to obtain can be supplied in chunks in a predefined, predictable, consequential flow, of knowledge being dropped into a child’s brain, whereas in reality, knowledge is more about connections, which a child needs to make for himself in his own time, and his own way – ‘lighting a fire’ rather than ‘filling a bucket’.

Mass Education Targets

It is unrealistic to expect every child in a class, let alone in the whole country, to attain the same academic level at the same age, given that every child – even within a family – is different and learns at a different rate and in different ways. Setting mass attainment targets is unrealistic and unprofitable, since knowledge forced into children’s minds at a Government (or adult) -determined rate will be much less well received than knowledge made available for the children to discover at their own pace. [We are in danger of this situation the moment the curriculum is made compulsory and it ceases to be fun.]

Narrow Scope

In its present form, the National Curriculum over-emphasizes Maths and English at too early an age, when it would perhaps be more profitable to concentrate on personal and social skills, literature and knowledge of the world. Also, in its present form, the National Curriculum does not promote an holistic or even a well rounded education and, in this connection, is particularly lacking in the area of History (in my view!).

Teaching to Test

One of the most serious dangers with having to pipe masses of information into children to deadline is that what they actually learn is less likely to be what we consciously teach them, but what they sub-consciously absorb through example. (This is what “discipleship” is all about and is as relevant for homeschools as schools)

A further interesting observation is that the National Curriculum represents a body of knowledge drawn up by the Government, without consultation with the families or children it affects despite the fact that the right of people to have a say in things which affect them is absolutely fundamental to democracy.

Has it ever crossed your mind to consider that children should have a say in when and what and how and where they learn? Is that really so radical?

Missing the vital message

Beyond all the knowledge in different subject areas, the most important area of learning is surely character.

Home education affords the opportunity to learn co-operation rather than competition.

John Taylor Gatto in his book “Dumbing US Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling” suggested that children educated in schools learn primarily to accept ‘confusion’, ‘class position’, ‘indifference’, ’emotional dependency’, ‘intellectual dependency’, ‘provisional self-esteem’, and ‘constant surveillance’.

If Gatto is right, the subjects on the National Curriculum that we hope they’re learning are not just secondary, but almost irrelevant.


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