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Abstract: - This essay will embody a critical analysis on the contrasting themes across the differentiated DfEE/QCA 1999 National Curriculum and the newly enforced 2007 published documents, in relation to the subject of physical education. The essay will be formatted and based around discussion on three key curricular themes; creativity, flexibility, and inclusion; ending discussion with a select few more obvious additions to the new National Curriculum for Physical Education (NCPE)
To begin it is important to briefly define a general view of physical education within our country; "the aim of Physical Education is to develop physical competence so that all children are able to move efficiently, effectively and safely and understand what they our doing. The outcome - physical literacy- is as important to children's overall development as literacy and numeracy." Declaration on Physical Education (2005)
The Education Reform Act (1998) outlined the entitlement for all state education pupils to have Physical Education (PE) included as an integral part of the core curriculum. The National Curriculum for Physical Education (NCPE) was introduced for pupils aged between 5-16 years in 1992 and was modified in 1995 (DfC 1995); since revised for schools in England and became fully operational in September 2001, with the New Curriculum being enforced in 2007, meaning the DfEE/QCA 1999 NC is still in place for years 9, 10, 11 and primary schools.
Due to the limited word count only the three stated area of discussion will be discussed in explicit detail, but before initiating discussion on these areas, it is important to explain to you the reader the major changes between the two documents; which will bear reference throughout the essay. Firstly the starting point for all the changing in the secondary curriculum is the introduction of the three statutory aims; which give focus for curriculum design, which have never previously existed. Secondly the DfEE/QCA 1999 NCPE has four strands of programme of study, whereas the New NC 2007 has been developed into 5 key processes. The section, "key processes" most resemble the previous programme of study meaning teaching will be broadly familiar with it. The addition of 'developing physical and mental capacity' recognises the importance of physical qualities and mental determination to the final outcome. The key concepts (competence, performance, creativity, and healthy active lifestyles) holistically combine what is at the heart of PE giving the learner ideas on what is needed to be physically educated. The breath of study in the DfEE/QCA 1999 NCPE, has been developed further in the 2007 NCPE into a more flexible range and content, focusing the curriculum around pupils developing different ways of thinking that underpin success in a much more flexible array of activities; there is also statutory requirements for pupils to be offered opportunities that engage them with real audiences and real purpose, enabling PE beyond the school context.
The first main area of discussion will be based around creativity in the two stated NCPE. Creativity is a diverse slippery concept that is very hard to define; it has variously been described as 'imaginativeness or ingenuity manifested in any valued pursuit' (Elliot 1975: 139); a function of intelligence' (Robinson, 2001), or 'going beyond the conventional agreed' (Craft 2000). In relation to an educational context Lavin (2008) notes how the National Curriculum for Physical Education (NCPE) has never taken emphasis towards a creative approach; neither in terms of learning or teaching creatively. Pupils established in the DfEE/QCA 1999 NCPE, have previously been asked to acquire and develop skills, select and apply skills, compositional ideas and tactics; evaluate and improve performance; and have knowledge and understanding of health and fitness. On analyse the only real areas that previously explored the realness of creativity were with dance, games and gymnastic dimensions of the curriculum. Outdoor and Adventure activities also bared no influence requirement to develop a creative approach; pupils were just expected to enhance problem solving skills which are a very different cognitive process. The National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education (NACCCE) recognise this by stating that, "Creativity and problem solving are not the same thing. Not all problems call for creative solutions or original thinking. Some can be solved routinely and logically." NACCCE (1999:24) Pioneering research like this encouraged an onslaught of new specific initiatives. Over the past few years the notion of creativity has been developed as a constant feature in educational initiatives. In 2003 the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) underwent a survey to examine and identify schools good practice in the promotion of creativity. Their report, "Expect the Unexpected: Developing Creativity in primary and secondary school", found that there was generally high quality creative work. What's more the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's (QCA) creativity project, "Creativity find it, promote it" (2004) developed a vital resource to encourage the implementation of this concept; by providing practical materials and examples of developing creativity in a school setting. In extension of these initiatives, Robert's (2006) report, "Nurturing Creativity in Young People", set out a clear framework to influence the further development of creative approaches to be enforced in the 2007 NCPE.
With the launch of the revised Key Stage 3 NC in July 2007, the importance of creative approaches was finally recognised and established. The chief executive of the QCA (2007) quotes; "by mixing tradition with more creative approaches to the curriculum, we will achieve our objective of providing successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens." As opposed from the DfEE/QCA 1999 NC, one of the five concepts in the new secondary NCPE at Key Stage 3 being creativity. It highlights how pupils need to understand the concept of creativity in order to:
"Use imaginative ways to express and communicate ideas, solve problems, and overcome challenges.
Explore and experiment with techniques, tactics and compositional ideas to produce efficient and effective outcomes."
National Curriculum (2007)
The Association for Physical Education (Afpe) (2007) state how the importance of creativity within this new curriculum is paramount; being one of the underpinning key concepts of the subject. Young people need opportunity to fire up their imaginations, overcome challenges, explore and experiment with techniques, tactics and compositional ideas, and to be able to express and communicate freely, all to produce efficient and effective outcomes.
Kirk, MacDonald and O'Sullivan (2006) state how creative learners are guided to discover knowledge themselves and to create their own understanding of the subject matter. Which interrelates to the new "Personal Learning and Thinking Skills" (PLTS) initiative bough in by the government in 2004. This encourages learner's personalisation within the curriculum, encouraging them to learn to learn.
As a concluding statement for this section of discussion the Afpe (2007) further highlight the much needed government support in association with this educational movement; quoting how the government clearly feel that the nation's future in terms of development of a more flexible, dynamic economy, is best served by developing more creativity in our young people.
To initiative discussion on curricular flexibility DfE 1995 NCPE, formatted its physical activities through a schedule of units and half units; the 1995 NC stated that;
"Pupils should be taught Games, at least one other full area of activity (Units A+B), and at least two additional half areas of activity (Unit A) taken from different areas of activity. At least one half area of activity (Unit A) must be either Gymnastics Activity or Dance."
This formatted take of activities made the curriculum very regimented and structured, prohibiting any chance of curriculum change and flexibility of bringing in new activities. Capel and Piotrowski (2000) state how the content in physical education, can be viewed as the passing of traditional culture, meeting the needs of the individual and preparing pupils for life after school. In regards to the creation of a broad balanced content across curricular history; the 1992 NCPE haled considerable bias towards games; what's more in the 1995 DfE NCPE, emphasis on each of the six areas of activity was not equal; games again prevailed as the dominant area. The balance in the DfEE/QCA 1999 NCPE was somewhat re-addressed most notable because games where not compulsory at Key Stage 4. In critical analysis, basing the DfEE/QCA 1999 NCPE on the notion of providing, a broad and balanced curriculum, has featured in many heated discussions about the pragmatic flexibility of the six areas of activity; dance, games, gymnastics, swimming and water safety, athletics, and outdoor and adventures activities. There have been politically based comparisons involving inclusion rates of some of these regimented areas, based on pupils and teachers flexibility and choice. Begging the question, is enough time given to other breath of study areas for pupils to establish a good skill level? It seems not as, Ofsted (2002) alerts us that, "time allocated to team games is sometimes between three and five times that for gymnastics, dance and other aspects of the PE curriculum," Ofsted (2002:4) thus completely contradicting the preliminary term; broad and balanced. White (2004) supports this argument further by questioning the appropriateness of the DfEE/QCA 1999 NCPE categories in regards to being institutionalized within our modern culture, as the dominant sports like netball and football, which bare small relevance to modern recreational activities like cycling, jogging and yoga. White (2004) further exclaims the non-apparent link to activities pursued in our contemporary youth culture such as skateboarding and BMX biking. The Qcda (2008), bring to light how the new curriculum enforced offers schools greater flexibility and coherence to aid tailor made specific learning to individual learner needs, with less prescribed subject content; although pupils will still be taught the general subject knowledge that was so prevalent in the DfEE/QCA 1999 NC. Crichton Casbon, curriculum adviser for PE at the QCA, divulges how the proposed changes offer teachers more flexibility to be creative; quoting "We will know we're winning when schools will be designing their own curriculums to suit the needs of their own particular youngsters." Pe and Sport Today (2007:1) The new curriculums range and content aids focus around pupils developing alternative ways of thinking that underlie achievement in altering activities, inhibiting greater flexibility and choice for the pupils and teachers to select alternative activities that engage them with the concept and processes, thus fulfilling aspirations, preferences and needs set. These can include (at least four):
accurate replication of actions, phrases and sequences
exploring and communicating ideas, concepts and emotions
performing at maximum levels
identifying and solving problems
exercising safely and effectively."
(New Secondary Curriculum 2007)
Crichton illustrates this with the example of swimming. "If you play water polo you are outwitting opponents, with synchronized swimming you will be replicating movements, in lane swimming you'll be performing to your maximum speed, in life saving you are focused on problem solving, while in aqua aerobics you will be exercising to improve fitness," Pe and Sport Today (2007:2) this demonstrates how each activity requires you to swim but also focuses on a different outcome, demonstrating increased activity flexibility, which produces a framework to maintain pupil interest. Jim Knight the labour party policy MP supported in his speech (2008), that the new curriculum will intend to provide greater flexibility, with more opportunity for young people to shape their own learning route, enabling them to make the most of their specific talents and follow a working style that suits them, and as Hayes and Stidder (2003) discuss, any curriculum that captures pupils personal interest's and enthusiasm is going to be more effective than one that does not. Greater flexibility will also give teachers more time to help pupils who have fallen behind to catch up, and those eager pupils who our awaiting further challenges. The Qcda (2009) highlight how flexibility in the curriculum gives schools more opportunity to adapt the NCPE to make the most of their local environment, resources and circumstance, to better meet pupils' interests. An example could be; if a school was in a town like Newquay who have a fantastic sea-side resource, there is no reason that surfing or body boarding couldn't be established as an activity in the curriculum. The Governments introduction of the National Activities Week will also support time implications to arranging diverse, innovative activities such as this.
To conclude this area of discussion the overall impact of this flexibility development to the learner is that it provides them with the support and challenge they need, whilst better meeting their interests and aspirations. As a result this will lead to further engagement with learning, to prohibit better progress and higher standards. Aiding a smoother development progress; and overall enjoyment of the school experience.
To bring about discussion on the final area, Inclusion; the revision of the NCPE DfEE/QCA 1999 for England featured for the first time a detailed, statutory statement in inclusion. Penny (2002) states that in doing so re-emphasized the centrality of, "inclusion", and "inclusive practices" in government policy related to education in PE. In broad terms the inclusion statement ensured all pupils "were enabled to participate as fully and effectively as possible within the NC and the statutory assessment arrangements," (DfEE/QCA 1999:33) regardless of pupil background, circumstance and potential barriers to their learning. This required teachers to plan the NC with mandatory regard to three principles of inclusion:
"1. Setting suitable learning challenges.
2. Responding to pupils diverse learning needs;
3. overcoming barriers to learning and assessment for individuals and groups of pupils."
Whilst teachers were expected to employ differentiated strategies to adhere to these principles, teacher understandings and conceptualizations of inclusion were still very much in its infancy. Hayes and Stidder (2003) highlight discussion on how the DfEE/QCA 1999 NCPE needed dramatic re-shaping for inclusivity to be activated; they saw that the organization of learning would have to be infinitely more flexible, with central relevance being based on differentiated practices; which is previously been discussed a prevalent theme in the new NCPE. The new NC has taken inclusivity to the next level, by wearing together previous inclusion programs of study together with the 10 high quality outcomes, the PESSCL work strands and the embedment of the Every Child Matters agenda; into a cohesive curriculum. Every Child Matters is a new approach to the well-being of children and young people from birth to age 19. The Government's aim is for every child, whatever their background or their circumstances, to have the support they need to:
enjoy and achieve
make a positive contribution
achieve economic well-being."
Every Child Matters (2003:6)
In aid of inclusion the Youth Sports Trust (YST) and Sport England play a central role in the DCSF and DCMS in the delivery of PE and Sport for young people; aiming to encouraging young people to adopt healthier lifestyles, enjoying sport in a safe environment and striving to achieve success, all of which are key aims of the Every Child Matters agenda. The DfEE/QCA 1999 NCPE permitted pupils to achieve that of two hours of physical activity a week, including the NC for physical education and extra-curricular activities. With a percentage increase of young people doing at least two hours of high quality PE and sport each week raising from, " 25% in 2002 to 90% in 2008," (PE and Sport Survey 2008:4) demonstrating how significant developments in inclusion where already prevalent. In the production of the new NCPE, the established links with governing bodies like YST and Sport England where progressed in the development of their first outcome, "Guide to Delivering the Five Hour Offer". The aim of this commitment is to enable every young person aged 5-16 to have access to five hours of PE and Sport each week." It is expected that schools will provide three of the five hours; two hours through high quality PE within the curriculum and at least one hour a week of sport for all young people beyond the curriculum. Community and club providers will seek to ensure that an additional two hours a week are available." PE and Sport Survey (2008:6) YST further support specialist sports Colleges and the infrastructure of the school sport partnerships in the implementation of the secondary curriculum. As a brief side note this is where the introduction of School Sports Coordinators (SSCO) within the new NC has become so vital; because as Flintoff (2003) states the essence of a SSCO is to organize and encourage the school and community sport partnerships, freeing up time for PE teachers to develop innovative activities. The five hour offer forms a realization on the fact that young people all have different needs and preferences which continuously change, but still need to be catered for; this supports the flexible ethos of the new NCPE, and links in support to the 2007 NC, "Curriculum Opportunities" section, 4.d, "Following Pathways to other activities beyond school." (2007:195)
The main discussion has been based around personal preferences to which are the most changed areas; but there are other more obvious differences that will now be discussed briefly, to end discussion and develop holistic understanding further.
The initial obvious difference is the introduction of an Importance Statement that is something that has never existed in a NCPE before; its purpose is to holistically establish a general knowledge to the new NC brief, reading rather like a mission statement for the subject. It describes what PE is really all about; by outlining why PE is important and how it can contribute to the curriculum aims. Thus showing the types of outcomes you would hope to see from a good PE department making an excellent starting point for planning.
The differing structure of the NC's is also initially something that strikes you, as the DfEE/QCA 1999 NC is an A4 document, bearing very explicit detailed guidelines; on contrast the 2007 NC is formatted in a small slimed down less prescriptive booklet with short concise instructions, with explanatory notes alongside to aid simple reading, similar to the slimmer DfE 1995 NC.
Lastly; cross-curricular dimensions bear major relevance in the 2007 NCPE. These promote coherence between subjects to help learners make effective links in their learning. The Planning Guide for Schools (2009) state how the cross-curricular dimensions are unifying areas of learning that span the curriculum and help young people make sense of the world. They are not curriculum subjects, but are crucial aspects of learning that should permeate the curriculum and the life of a school.
In conclusion this essay should demonstrate how important it is to remember how investigation of the past will help aid us see the way forward for the future. Holistically the essay has bought discussion upon how the prevalent contributions the new curriculum has to ensure better coherence. It has further highlights how it presents the curriculum as much more than just a set of content to cover; whilst still maintaining the best of the past yet offering, "increased opportunity to design learning that develops the wider skills for life and learning as well as making links to the major ideas and challenges that face society and have significance for individuals." QCDA (2008) However after researching this topic their our areas of concern regarding questioning of the new curriculum being effectively institutionalize within schools; so following discussion in this essay the next area of analysis should be focused around the question's that, once the new innovative curriculum is fully enforced through all key stages, can physical education staff actually enforced it effectively, truly following the specific guidelines, can they handle the extra work load, are they to stuck in their old ways for change to actually take place?
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