Is It Time for the British National Curriculum to Change?
With a growing climate crisis, public health worsening, and growing economic tensions, is it time to change the British National Curriculum?
The recent years have brought several issues to major news attention. The world is going through climate change at a rate fast enough for it to be called a climate crisis. In some parts of the UK, life expectancy has fallen (Source: BBC). So is it time to reassess what is being taught in British schools, and modernise the content being used in the classroom?
The National Curriculum in England and Wales was introduced under the Education Reform Act 1988. The implementation of this was to guide schools in what they were to teach. In doing so, it meant schools would teach English, Maths, and Science as its core subjects, giving them priority, giving less priority to other subjects like Geography and History.
The National Curriculum is updated periodically, along with the way examinations are to be run, and the content to be taught. But is it time to change that, in favor of more important themes, such as environmental studies, and finance classes?
One google search of the term "climate crisis" brings up 234 million results, with many web pages containing articles about the worsening climate crisis, and others offering advice on how we can help to stop it. Here begins the first big discussion: should we be teaching about the climate crisis in school? The answer in short: yes!
Climate change and global warming has been taught in schools for years, and the modern day should be no exception, if anything, efforts to teach about it should be increased. Schools should be encouraging students to look at how they have an impact on the carbon footprint, but also inviting them to help the school become more eco-friendly. Students are the future, and once you get students talking, they can find problems within the school network that need fixing, from small things such as schools having more recycling bins on the grounds, to the bigger, more controversial things, like what food should be served in the canteen.
To take this further, the curriculum should be amended to look at this in context, with food technology classes looking at vegan and vegetarian dishes, science classes looking at the cost of renewable energy, but putting it into real world practice. This applies to themes outside of the climate crisis.
Before going off to University, I wasn't taught anything about credit cards, budgeting, paying bills and rent, mortgages, this list goes on. This should change. Going to University in the United Kingdom is a full time commitment that comes with debt to pay off, and we as students should be taught about money management before heading off to University with our student loans. The National Curriculum should include teaching about interest rates on credit cards, and interest free periods, about ISA accounts, and investing money, again, in real world settings.
Continuing the theme of University living, the National Curriculum should open up to include self-care classes. Classes about how to look after yourself when you are unwell, the difference between going to a pharmacy, going to the doctor, or calling 999. Learning first aid, CPR, and even what to do in the event of an epileptic fit. With knife crime, and acid attacks becoming more common, especially in the capital, students should be taught what to do in the event of this happening, and could prove useful and could help to save lives, as long as medically trained individuals lead the classes.
These are all suggestions based on my experiences with the education system, and this is only just the beginning, and this is where schools could get creative with how they teach and what they teach. Providing a core theme, such as "being eco-friendly," schools could adapt what they teach exactly about the theme, for example, teaching not just about recycling, but taking students on school trips to see where their waste ends up, looking at fuel emissions in Physics classes to see how damaging petrol and diesel consumption really is, looking at why some plastics can't be recycled, the list goes on.
Whilst learning about covalent bonding, Pythagoras theorem, and tectonic plates might prove useful to some later in life, the National Curriculum should really be opened up to transferable skills that could help to slow the climate crisis down, help students to be responsible with their money, and could ease pressure on the already under-funded National Health Service.
To see my other article on the problems with the British Education System, click HERE.