| CHAPTER FOUR
This pilot survey was carried out in order to further
validate the main theme of this dissertation; to determine
whether Scientific Management techniques are now part of the
Management of Education, particularly with reference to National
Curriculum Technology. It also helped formalise a variety of
opinions and experiences expressed by many teachers. One of the
aims of the survey was to analyse the responses to the questions
asked, so that general conclusions (a summary) could be made. The
respondents were asked questions verbally as part of a
questionnaire, used in the context of a survey.
The nature and form of the survey and interviews were
considered carefully. It was decided that a "structured"
interview whereby each respondent was asked the same questions in
exactly the same way, following in the same order, was not
suitable as this may not provide the opportunity to elicit
attitudes and opinions (essential to this dissertation). A
"completely unstructured" interview was also regarded as
unsuitable as this would only involve the interviewer engaging
the respondent in conversation, following up points of interest
as they develop. It would not be specific enough to determine the
respondents attitudes and opinions in relation specifically to
Scientific Management strategies. Unstructured interviews can be
regarded as unique events since the questions, the sequence and
emphasis given by the interviewer can vary considerably from one
interview to the next. This can lead to a considerable amount of
difficulty in comparing and measuring responses. Although they
allow for greater indepth questioning into areas of interest
previously uncovered by more rigidly structured interviews.
The most suitable form of interview for a subject of this
nature, given the restrictions on time, was "semi-structured" as
this allowed for a number of clear questions and interviewer
discretion with regard to eliciting opinions and attitudes of the
respondents. This approach was adopted as a variety of teachers
with different experience, backgrounds and subjects skills were
to be respondents.
It can be seen that the validity of interview data is
inversely related to the number of respondents to whom questions
can be asked. The more unstructured the interview, the more time
consuming it is and fewer interviews can be carried out. The aim
of this survey was not measurable, quantifiable data which can be
statistically manipulated to produce generalisations. The
underlying objective was to register the subjective meanings,
opinions, attitudes and working experience of the respondents
(teachers). It was realised that such data may not produce
standardised, qualitative, statistical results.
Instead of asking questions to all secondary school
teachers involved with the teaching of the National
Curriculum, a small reliable sample were interviewed. Furthermore
teachers outside the new subject Technology were considered an
important part of the survey. It is acknowledged that the more
representative the sample population is, the more reliable the
data gathered. Consequently the source of ones sampling is
crucial to the reliability of ones results; since the sample is
only as good as the frame from which it is drawn.
The representative sample was not chosen in a random way in
order to reduce the risk of producing a non-representative
selection of respondents. An attempt was made to select teachers
from a variety of backgrounds and experience with different
subject skills, teaching aspects of the National Curriculum. The
target population were also selected according to teaching
experience and respondents were expected to have at least eight
years teaching experience, having taught, O'level, C.S.E, G.C.S.E
and National Curriculum syllabuses. Consideration was given to
the need to interview teachers of seniority (such as Heads of
Department) as well as main scale teachers. Teachers were
selected from a range of schools throughout the Education
The design of the survey was determined by the main themes
presented by Scientific Management / Taylorism, such as ; the
reduction of worker autonomy, deskilling, the role of management
and other relevant aspects. Questions were formulated in such a
way that they were clear and straightforward. Often questions
were explained in more detail by the interviewer so that
respondents understood exactly what was been asked.
The main problem to be faced by the respondents was
perceived identities of the interviewer (and the motives behind
the survey) which could affect the attitude and truthfulness of
the respondent and therefore access to quality data. Although it
is impossible to assume a neutral identity it was stressed that
all interview material would be confidential and only for use in
a dissertation (not for Salford Education Authority or any other
similar body or organisation)
During the interviews the questions were asked sensibly and
flowed naturally from one to the next, rather than sudden changes
of direction or discussion. It was realised that before the
interviews could begin that respondents needed to be 'warmed up'
and so a general discussion of Secondary Education and the
National Curriculum led into the questioning. All the interviews
were carried out in secondary schools across Salford and although
this is the workplace it did not seem to affect the quality of
the data. It was felt that tape recording would be intrusive and
so only written notes were taken.
Interviewers, like anybody else, have values, expectations,
opinions and attitudes. An attempt was made to disguise these so
that they were not communicated to the respondent. The
interviewer refrained from offering opinions and did not express
approval or disapproval of answers. Furthermore efforts were made
to establish a rapport with the respondent.
SEMI-STRUCTURED SURVEY, QUESTIONS AND SUMMARY OF ANSWERS
1. Before the National Curriculum did you feel that you had a
large amount of autonomy with regard to the material you taught ?
Most respondents suggested that their classroom autonomy had
suffered due to the National Curriculum. Choices regarding
coursework were now restricted
2. Before the National Curriculum was the choice regarding the
methods and strategies you used in the classroom a result of your
own discretion and professional judgement ?
Virtually all respondents had experienced a change in the
teaching methods they used and these had been brought about by
the National Curriculum
3. Do you feel that the National Curriculum was imposed ? Have
you had any say with reference to its structure ?
All respondents agreed that the National Curriculum had been
4. Do you feel the National Curriculum sets the tasks that you
have to complete with the pupils ? Do you feel that you have been
set tasks (ie. directions from higher authority) ?
There was some disagreement over the meaning of "tasks".
However, almost all the respondents agreed that the National
Curriculum, it's Attainment Targets, Levels and Programmes of
Study produced a strict guide for teachers to follow.
5. Is the National Curriculum the "backbone" of your subject ?
All teachers agreed that the National Curriculum was the
backbone of lower school teaching and that this situation will
expand into the upper school as the National Curriculum
6. Do you feel that the content of your subject has suffered from
a reduction in skills (in particular the subject matter the
pupils are taught) ?
Most respondents agreed that there had been a reduction in
skills, especially when referring to their specialisms. However,
some respondents suggested that more general "Technology" skills
had been introduced, although these had not replaced fully the
lost subject specific skills.
7. Do you feel the skills and knowledge you require to enable you
to teach your subject have been reduced ?
A majority of respondents agreed that the skills required to
teach their subjects had seen a reduction and that technology
teachers needed generalised, broader skills, covering as many of
the Attainment Targets and Levels as possible.
8. Has there been an increase in the amount of surveillance over
your work, since the Education Reform Act of 1988 ie. parents
evenings or record keeping ?
All respondents suggested that there had been an increase in
surveillance, although some were under the impression that the
"Records of Achievement" (ROA) were part of the National
Curriculum. Some respondents referred to the SAT pilot scheme as
9. Before the introduction of the National Curriculum was
teaching a more creative process ? Has this aspect been reduced
or increased ?
This provided a variety of answers. Respondents did not
clearly state their understanding of creativity. Most Technology
teachers regarded creativity as been linked closely to practical
work. Many referred to a decrease in creativity for both the
teacher and the pupil.
10. Do you regard yourself as part of a production process ? has
this increased with the National Curriculum ?
Most respondents agreed that a production line did exist and
that this situation had been formalised by the Attainment Targets
and Levels of Attainment.
11. Have you developed any new skills since working with the
National Curriculum ?
Respondents referred to very few new skills being introduced
by the National Curriculum. Recording and assessment was regarded
by a minority of respondents as new skills. Other respondents
suggested that the new skills in Technology were generalised,
simplified skills that encompassed the Attainment Targets.
12. Are you worried about your future prospects and job security
since the Education Reform Act of 1988 and the introduction of
the National Curriculum ? (ie. could any member of staff teach
your subject ? no need for specialist staff ? could one member of
staff deliver all the Attainment Targets and Levels in your
All Technology teachers expressed concern for their future,
believing their jobs were insecure and that eventually fewer
Technology teachers would be needed to teach National Curriculum
Technology. Opposite views were expressed by Science and Maths
teachers who saw their positions as very secure.
ILLUSTRATIVE, SEMI-STRUCTURED SURVEY
SUBJECT - BUSINESS STUDIES (TECHNOLOGY)
TEACHING EXPERIENCE - 9 YEARS
POSITION - TEACHER IN CHARGE OF BUSINESS STUDIES
1. Teacher A suggested the position of Business Studies had
changed, marginally. The basic concepts of the subject had always
been taught to the younger pupils. With the introduction of the
National Curriculum the time is now available to continue this.
However, he stressed that Business Studies teachers were now
aware of the subject matter that must be covered as part of the
National Curriculum. The Attainment Targets play an important
role as reflected in the way Business Studies is now taught.
Teacher autonomy over what was taught, had suffered.
2. Teacher A said that the overall approach had changed. With the
same amount of group work, it is now essential that teachers
identify each pupils individual contribution to the group so that
it can be assessed. Much of the work is organised to make this
difficult task easier. As a result lessons must have clear
objectives and in most cases this means having particular levels
or programmes of study in mind.
3. Teacher A agreed that the National curriculum had been imposed
with little or no consultation, "the change had been forced".
However, teacher A added the comment that most teachers seem to
be prepared to go along with the National Curriculum without
questioning the reasoning behind its imposition. Although the
curriculum had been imposed, teacher A felt that Business Studies
had not found it's role within Technology; this was still open to
4. Teacher A expressed the opinion that the National Curriculum
did provide teachers with the basic "tasks" of Technology
including the subject content (programmes of study). However, the
projects followed in order to cover the programmes of study were
a result of decisions taken either by the Technology Coordinator
or by the classroom teacher himself / herself. But, the Levels of
Attainment must always be attended to.
5. Teacher A felt; as the National Curriculum dominated teaching
in all schools, it could be looked upon as the backbone of all
6. Teacher A suggested that this was not necessarily the case as
Business Studies had not always had a place in years 7 and 8.
Furthermore, the pupils in Business Studies now had to cover
Attainment Targets such as "planning and making". This was a
selection of skills not attempted in the past. But, there had
been a dilution of traditional Business Studies skills, such as
an understanding of economics
7. According to teacher A, the skills required by the average
Business Studies teacher (particularly in the lower school) were
general technology skills. A detailed understanding of the
business world was not required. Therefore, Business Studies
skills had been reduced.
8. Teacher A emphasised that the record keeping had increased
especially for those schools taking part in the Standard
Assessment Tasks (pilot schemes).
9. Teacher A suggested that Business Studies may find the
National Curriculum more creative. Pupils were not restricted to
following a business studies project, they could now broaden the
project to cover other technology areas. However, teacher A
emphasised the importance of keeping a check on pupils, ensuring
that they did not become too "creative" and move away from the
"sober realities" of following the ATs and Programmes of Study.
10. Teacher A felt that the National Curriculum "rules" over the
teaching of Technology and that in some schools courses had been
set up whereby the pupils are administered in such a way that
they progressed through the levels automatically, year by year.
However, teacher A put forward the view that Technology need not
be taught in an entirely rigid way.
11. New skills such as model making, simple presentation and
drawing skills, and the ability of pupils to plan, evaluate and
record their work carefully, are new skills. Both the teacher and
pupils have to possess these.
12. Teacher A was worried about the future of Business Studies in
Technology. The place of any of the contributing subjects is not
a certainty and in the future we may find that some subjects have
been "trimmed" or "removed" from Technology. It is not necessary
to have all the contributing subjects producing schemes of work
that cover all the Attainment Targets.
SUBJECT - BUSINESS STUDIES (TECHNOLOGY)
POSITION - MAIN SCALE TEACHER
TEACHING EXPERIENCE - 8 YEARS
1. Teacher B placed emphasis on the fact that the role of
Business Studies has changed since the introduction of the
National Curriculum. Business Studies has always had a role at
G.C.S.E level but not in the lower school. For the first time
Business Studies has a role to play, in Technology. Teacher B
suggested that Business Studies teachers, like all Technology
teachers, have to follow the guide-lines set down by the National
Curriculum, but they cannot complain as Technology introduces
pupils to Business Studies at an early age. Teacher B found the
National Curriculum reducing his autonomy and choice in the lower
school which did not compare favourably with his upper school
work. He had greater choice over what was taught and how it was
taught to G.C.S.E pupils.
2. Teacher B felt that many of the Attainment Targets and levels
were new to Business Studies teachers, particularly the design
and problem solving process and so he had to adopt methods and
strategies to suit this new approach. Those adopted were not
necessarily of his own choice but were used in order to fulfil
the National Curriculum guidelines.
3. Despite the fact that teacher B had been to several
conferences and courses, many at weekends, he was careful to
point out that none of these courses were consultative. Business
Studies teachers have never been led to believe that their views
would be listened to. However, teacher B suggested that someone
somewhere took the decision to include Business Studies in
National Curriculum Technology. He was not aware of any
consultation that had taken place between even Business Studies
Advisory teachers and the D.E.S or C.A.T.S or any other
4. Teacher B stated that the individual teacher can set the
overall theme that the class consider in their projects but the
Attainment Targets are the tasks that the pupils must aim to
complete successfully. The teachers task is to ensure that this
takes place. Teacher B gave the example of Attainment Target 5
"Information Technology", stating that all Technology teachers
have to ensure that they contribute to this target. In this way a
new task has been introduced.
5. Teacher B emphasised the importance of the National Curriculum
to Business Studies and especially in the lower school (years 7
and 8) where it was central to all teaching. He suggested that as
the National Curriculum progressed up the school it would assume
the same importance in the upper school. At the moment there is
some flexibility especially in years 10 and 11 regarding the
nature of what is taught.
6. Teacher B believes that Business Studies has not become
deskilled. Business Studies has never had a role in the lower
school and so Business Studies teachers are happy to introduce
their subject to pupils who under normal conditions would not
experience it. However, when questioned further teacher B did
admit that he was not happy with the general content of the
National Curriculum with regard to Business Studies because some
of the content had been simplified.
7. Teacher B implied that the skills required to teach Business
Studies in the lower school were very basic and that detail was
not required. Compared to the detail needed in the upper school
the skills were simple .
8. The teacher suggested that there had been an increase in the
amount of surveillance especially in the form of record keeping.
His subject is expected to keep detailed records on each pupil
with specific reference to the Attainment Targets and Levels of
Attainment, as this is statutory by law and parents can insist on
seeing them. Pupil evidence must also be kept. Teacher B stated
that on the whole paper work had increased drastically..
9. Business Studies, according to teacher B had not seen a
decrease in creativity since the introduction of the National
Curriculum. In the lower school pupils are encouraged to direct
themselves and make their own decisions (within the limits of the
National Curriculum). Teacher B stressed that this was a new
approach for Business Studies as pupils could use the knowledge
they had gained in other Technology areas and apply it to
Business Studies. Although the pupils may not build up as many
skills as they once did under a traditional Business Studies
approach, they do go through quite a creative process and so does
10. Teacher B implied that it was difficult to compare schools to
factories. However, the style of management that has been adopted
by some headteachers and senior management reflects a need for
examination success. With emphasis placed on the importance of
good exam success, pressure has been increased on the classroom
teacher. As a result teachers tend not to stray from the
guidelines of the National Curriculum keeping one factor in mind,
pushing pupils up the Levels of Attainment. At the end of a
school year the most important product of all is exam passes and
this will increase when testing at Key Stage Three begins.
11. Teacher B stated that he has had to develop some new skills
in order to teach Attainment Targets, that contain new aspects of
the subject Technology. For example, "Planning and Making". In
Business Studies pupils in the past have had to plan projects and
even products but they have never had to "make". Business Studies
teachers have tried to develop simple model making skills and
graphics skills. However, teacher B stressed that most Business
Studies teachers have trained themselves in these areas and felt
that they could not achieve as high a standard as properly
trained or qualified staff with these specialisms. For example
Craft, Design and Technology teachers who had completed a degree.
12. Teacher B suggested that Business Studies teachers had a
secure "foothold" in the National Curriculum. On the other hand
there were five contributing subjects in Technology and it would
be easy to be cynical and say that eventually some subjects or
teachers could be removed from Technology. Under L.M.S. this may
be an attractive prospect especially if economic restraints
continue. Teacher B insisted that it would be possible for a
non-specialist in Business Studies to learn enough skills to
deliver this aspect of the National Curriculum.
SUBJECT - CRAFT, DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY (TECHNOLOGY)
POSITION - HEAD OF DESIGN TECHNOLOGY
EXPERIENCE - 12 YEARS
1. Teacher C offered the point of view; before the National
Curriculum, teachers had too much autonomy and the subject had
been relatively unstructured. Teachers in different schools and
sometimes in the same school, were approaching Craft, Design and
Technology in their own unique way. A coercive policy between the
Local Education Authorities did not exist. Teacher C viewed
"autonomy is parallel to anarchy". This problem does not exist
with the National Curriculum, although teacher C disagrees with
2. Teacher C stated that before the National Curriculum there was
a greater choice regarding the methods and strategies employed by
teachers. However, there was no control, no expectations and no
indicators of quality and performance. The way teachers taught
was never assessed for success or failure because the examination
results were associated with the pupil and not the teacher.
3. Teacher C described the way that todays Technology presents
the pupils with a theme and through this the contributing
Technology subjects deliver a "design and technology capability".
This change had been forced but by misled individuals who are
unclear about the meaning of Technology or Design and Technology
4. Teacher C put forward the view that the National Curriculum
does not entirely set the tasks for pupils or teachers. He
suggested that the Programmes of Study are just advice and could
be described as suitably vague. However, teacher C did emphasise
that the purpose of the Programmes of Study were to push pupils
to higher Levels of Attainment.
5. Teacher C accepted that the Attainment Targets and Programmes
of Study (to a lesser extent) were the backbone of the subject.
6. Teacher C argued that the deskilling takes place only if your
subject does not take part in the entire process, therefore, not
covering all the Attainment Targets. He regards the Attainment
Targets and Levels as skills that the pupil is trying to achieve.
7. Teacher C again suggested that the deskilling of the teacher
can only take place if the teacher does not deliver all the
Attainment Targets. For most non C.D.T. teachers the National
Curriculum may increase their Technology skills and reduce their
subject specialist skills.
8. Teacher C felt that there had been a lack of "quality control
systems" in the past, but the increase record keeping and the
prospect of appraisal would reverse this trend.
9. According to teacher C there had been a decrease in the
creativity of the subject. This was due to what he saw as
non-Technology specialists (such as Business Studies teachers and
Home Economics teachers) attempting to deliver a design and
problem solving approach without adequate training or experience.
10. Teacher C suggested that if the National Curriculum had been
interpreted by schools correctly, the production line process
that exists today would be less apparent. In theory pupils should
be able to go to any of the contributing subject areas during
Technology lessons, as part of the problem solving process.
However, most schools have not allowed Technology to develop in
11. Some new skills have emerged, such as those gained by forward
looking teachers who have reskilled themselves with Information
Technology skills. However, this does not compensate for the loss
of a detailed design and problem solving process.
12. Teacher C suggested the future for those teachers who have
changed their teaching methods and up-dated their subject skills,
should be secure. However, for most teachers this was not the
case because generally the teachers delivering Technology had a
poor understanding of what is expected. He saw the future as been
the introduction of Technology teachers who had been specifically
trained with a broad spectrum of skills.
SUBJECT - CRAFT, DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY (TECHNOLOGY)
POSITION - MAIN SCALE TEACHER
EXPERIENCE - 14 YEARS
1. Teacher D claimed that before the National Curriculum he had a
larger degree of autonomy but there had still been some
restrictions. In the days of woodwork and metalwork, teachers had
to ensure that the pupils developed skills that would help their
progress when entering the fourth and fifth year and could cope
with C.S.E and G.C.E. This meant that a course had to be
constructed in such a way that the practical skills were taught.
2. According to teacher D, methods have also changed
significantly. The National Curriculum has to be taught in a
certain way, with pupils being self-directing and working in
groups. Group teaching and individual work may be going on in a
class at the same time. The old methods of whole class teaching
with all pupils completing practical work, are not relevant
today. The change to GCSE examinations started the push towards
3. The change has been orchestrated by the National Curriculum,
stated teacher D. It has been rushed into operation with
apparently little discussion. Teacher D felt that S.E.A.C and the
other examinations bodies appear to have exclusive rights over
Technology (the fact that many of the skills that were once
taught by all the Technology subjects, have been over simplified,
was offered as evidence). Furthermore, teacher D suggested that
S.E.A.C seem to be unwilling to use techniques, methods and
subject content, that had, only a few years before, been regarded
as good practice.
4. Teacher D drew his conclusions from the SAT trials. The
Consortium for Assessment and Testing in Schools, provided the
area to be studied for the project and the programmes of study
from the National Curriculum. (Teacher D was wrong to suggest
that the SAT provided the project, however, it was his
impression). Teacher D clearly described the method of assessment
whereby the teacher marks the completed work by allocating levels
within each Attainment Target.
5. Teacher D believed that the National Curriculum had to be
followed and could not be avoided.
6. Teacher D claimed that the practical skills had virtually
disappeared along with much of the time that was spent with
pupils making their products. It is not only the practical skills
such as engineering or woodworking that have declined but also
the attention that C.D.T could pay to the quality of a pupils
presentation. These precision skills are no longer important, as
pupils are encouraged to put their ideas on paper, quickly and
without following a design sequence. The real skills (claimed
teacher D) once covered by subjects like Engineering, Woodwork,
Technical Drawing and later subjects like C.D.T, Technology (not
to be confused with National Curriculum Technology) and Graphics
/ Design Communication, have been reduced "markedly".
7. Teacher D felt strongly that his teaching skills had also been
reduced. As the subject skills had been reduced so it was not
necessary for the teacher to possess or display as many skills
personally. Interestingly, teacher D, suggested that it is now
possible to teach Technology from a number of teaching packs
available on the market, many of which offer example projects,
following Programmes of Study and Attainment Targets
8. Teacher D, like many of the other teachers interviewed,
explained that teachers in any National Curriculum subject are
more accountable than they have ever been. He also said that,
especially in Technology, which had a number of contributing
subjects, it was important to keep an upto date record of a
pupil's progress (as much for staff benefit as for the pupil and
parent). Records of a pupil's progress are passed from one
Technology teacher to the next as classes move from one area to
9. Teacher D suggested that the subject was more creative as
little as four years ago. Pupils designed and produced items that
were well presented and made, with an eye to quality. The
National Curriculum sets pupils tasks whereby they come up with
contrived, artificial needs and so confines their natural
creativity. Teachers are affected in the same way.
10. Teacher D stated that the record keeping and up-dating of
records gave the feeling of "routine office work". When prompted
with regard to whether he felt the levels and Attainment Targets
increase the possible existence of a production line, he agreed.
11. No, was the answer
12. Teacher D gave the impression that all the three C.D.T
subjects were threatened and that they could easily be reduced to
just one subject. Redundancy he saw as a threat. He agreed that
it is now possible for just one non-specialist teacher to present
a viable Technology subject.
SUBJECT - HOME ECONOMICS (TECHNOLOGY)
POSITION - HEAD OF DEPARTMENT
TEACHING EXPERIENCE - 16 YEARS
1. Teacher E said that the National Curriculum had taken away the
variety of choice and autonomy that she once had. Her main
argument was centred on the fact that when the National
Curriculum progresses to Key Stage 4 (years 10 and 11) the choice
of syllabuses will have disappeared or been severely reduced. She
suggested that she had to keep this in mind when teaching the
lower school pupils and that the Attainment Targets and
Programmes of Study were central to her preparation. This had
taken away the wide range of activities that she presented to
pupils before Technology was introduced.
2. Teacher E implied that the teaching strategies she had used in
the past were largely based on individual work that was
relatively easy to assess. However, now that pupils can decide on
the general direction of their work and projects, there has been
a move towards group work which has led to a radical change in
the organisation of the class. Often the class cannot be taught
as a whole as they are working on individual and very different
projects. The pupils are often dealt with individually. Teacher E
felt this had resulted in a change in her teaching style.
3. Teacher E said that she was not aware of any consultation
taking place with regard to the structure or content of National
Curriculum Technology and that it was her opinion that other
subjects had been treated the same way. She gave the example of
the Standard Assessment trials her school had participated in.
The questionnaires the staff had completed and returned to the
Consortium for Testing ad Assessment in Schools, had not even
merited a reply. It was as if they did not take notice of any
suggestions put forward by the classroom teacher.
4. Teacher E insisted that teachers did have some choice over the
nature of the tasks that were set for the pupils and that they
usually began with a general theme. However, in reality, she felt
that pupils and teachers had only a limited amount of discretion
over the subject matter. She regarded her main task as ensuring
that pupils covered the Attainment Targets and achieved as high a
level as possible. Further to this, the National Curriculum
governs almost all the work we do in the classroom.
5. Teacher E admitted that the National Curriculum was the most
important part of her subject especially in the lower school and
that it was beginning to influence the way she taught in the
6. Teacher E was adamant that the pupils were not building up as
many skills now that they were following the National Curriculum
and that the design and problem solving approach does not replace
the skills the subject had lost. Pupils now find it difficult
when they want to attempt some practical work because the
National Curriculum does not allow the teaching of these basic
skills. Five years ago practical work was very important but now
it is only required occasionally.
7. Teacher E emphasised the lack of practical work in the lower
school. She regarded these as the skills of her specialism and
the fact that the number had been reduced and in some cases
removed in the lower school meant that a less skilled teacher
could teach successfully. She suggested also that there was, at
times, still a need for a Home Economics specialist.
8. Most teachers interviewed stressed the importance of record
keeping and this respondent was no exception. She was well aware
of the need to keep accurate records and have all marking up to
date. She suggested that the reliance on record keeping had
increased over the last two years and that it now interfered with
classroom teaching and preparation. She emphasised the role
played by the "Records of Achievement" which recorded National
Curriculum progression and set targets for the future. She also
came to the conclusion that this record keeping was for the
benefit of a wider audience than usual, including parents and
pupils, employers and further education establishments. She
emphasised how important it was to be careful concerning what was
written on the "R.O.As".
9. This teacher has come to the conclusion that much of the
enjoyment and creativity has been removed from her classroom.
This includes the practical work which in the past had dominated
the subject and could be extremely creative, from both the
teachers and pupils point of view.
10. Teacher E did not feel that the National Curriculum had
introduced the feel of a production line into teaching, although
it was now possible to say what skills and knowledge it was
necessary for pupils to be taught in one or two years time. This
was all written into the National Curriculum Technology. The
progression of pupils up the Levels of Attainment could be seen
as a type of production line.
11. Teacher E has not found the need to develop any new skills
and even the increased record keeping did not involve
12. Teacher E was concerned about her future and the future of
her subject. She had the impression that eventually all the
contributing subjects of National Curriculum Technology would
amalgamate to form one subject. There would be less staff
delivering the curriculum and obviously jobs would be at risk.
Furthermore, there may not be a need for specialist staff in the
SUBJECT - HOME ECONOMICS
POSITION - MAIN SCALE TEACHER
TEACHING EXPERIENCE - 11 YEARS
1. Teacher F felt that she had more choice before the
introduction of the National Curriculum. Furthermore, she was
able to teach areas of the subject that are not required as part
of the new syllabus.
2. Before the National Curriculum she could be more flexible in
what she taught and the strategies / methods she used. The
National Curriculum has restricted the choice of not only subject
material but also teaching strategies. Teacher F stated that the
pupils and the new curriculum now determine the strategies used
by the teacher.
3. Teacher F suggested that the National Curriculum had imposed
sweeping changes in the form of subject content and the methods
employed by teachers. No opportunity had been given to contribute
to the structure of the curriculum.
4. Teacher F emphasised the role of the new SATs that will set
precisely the tasks or themes to be examined by pupils. They also
state the Programmes of Study that must be investigated. This
will also mean that the teacher has to follow even more stringent
guidelines than those that the National Curriculum sets. The
National Curriculum is the "higher authority determining our
5. Teacher F stated that the National Curriculum was the backbone
of the subject and that this would become more obvious as the
6. To a certain extent the National Curriculum has led to a
reduction of skills. Specialist subjects are finding it
impossible to cover the areas or skills they once had time to
complete. The National Curriculum restricts what can be taught
and the detail given to each topic. Consequently both the
teachers and pupils are less skilled.
7. See question 6
8. Teacher F believed that "parent power" had been on the
increase for a number of years and the National Curriculum meant
that this had grown out of all proportion. It is all part of
government surveillance over teachers and the work carried out in
9. Before the National Curriculum teaching and being taught was
more creative, suggested teacher F. The reduction of the amount
of practical work (cooking) and its replacement by paper work had
led to this situation.
10. Teacher F suggested that the production line existed even
with the old practical approach, as the pupils had to perform a
variety of practical tests as they progressed up the school.
However, now this situation is more formalised as the pupils move
up the Levels of Attainment. This has increased the production
line atmosphere within the school.
11. Teacher F had the opinion that no new skills had been
developed since the introduction of the National Curriculum.
12. The fear of job insecurity was emphasised by teacher F. She
felt that the time would arise when it would not be necessary for
individual specialists to contribute to National Curriculum
Technology. It would be possible to deliver the National
Curriculum with a reduction in Staffing.
SUBJECT - HOME ECONOMICS (TECHNOLOGY)
POSITION - HEAD OF DEPARTMENT AND COORDINATOR OF TECHNOLOGY
TEACHING EXPERIENCE - 16 YEARS
1. Teacher G stated that before the National Curriculum there had
been more freedom to choose the way one went about teaching Home
Economics and this had been reflected in the enjoyment the pupils
displayed in lesson time. The pupils could be directed into a
range of interesting areas, most of which do not fit the National
2. Teacher G said that the National Curriculum had changed her
teaching style and instead of broadening the areas she once
taught, it had restricted them to a problem solving process. In
theory, pupils are allowed to direct themselves but this quite
often means that pupils keep to the skills they have already
built up and therefore, they do not try new skills. Teacher G
claimed that the National Curriculum had changed her pattern of
teaching in that it did not allow her to intervene or give advice
to pupils concerning problem solving, as much as she would like.
3. As a Technology Coordinator, teacher G emphasised when she
attended meetings regarding the implementation of Technology, it
was mainly to listen to the latest changes. Little time at
meetings was given to suggested changes to the National
4. Teacher G regarded monitoring staff as her most inportant
task, ensuring that work was been constantly assessed / marked
and pupil records were been kept. As a classroom teacher she felt
her main responsibility was to guide pupils through the
Attainment Targets. She suggested that as teachers our main task
was to follow the National Curriculum.
5. Teacher G agreed that in the lower school the National
Curriculum was the backbone of all teaching, and inevitably it
would be just as important in the upper school.
6. Teacher G stated that her subject does not cover the content
it once did and that Home Economic teachers had to be very
careful what skills they chose to teach, in an attempt to cover
as many Attainment Targets as possible. She took the traditional
stance in saying that Home Economic teachers had to find a
compromise between passing on skills to pupils that would be
useful in the home and still fulfilling the National Curriculum
requirements. The range of techniques now covered in Home
Economics had been reduced by the National Curriculum.
7. Teacher G said that less adventurous and therefore less
skilful techniques were used in todays Home Economics classroom,
as the time was not available for pupils to build up techniques.
She felt there was less of a need for any subject specific
specialist and that this was definitely the case in Home
8. Teacher G gave a detailed account on how "marking out of 10"
had ceased and how Technology teachers now had to keep records /
reports referring constantly to Levels. Some teachers retain
their own marking methods which are more understandable for
parents. However, this has increased their work load and the law
still expects us to make available pupil records for parents.
These records must make clear - a pupils' position in terms of
levels and Attainment Targets.
9. Teacher G regards the teaching of Home Economics as being less
creative due to a reduction in the amount of practical work. It
is less creative for the pupil and member of staff.
10. Teacher G suggested that a small minority of pupils still do
not realise that they are following the National Curriculum, as
such they do not realise they are on some form of "conveyor
belt". It is easy for the teacher to see the overall process
11. Teacher G looked upon the old skills as serving her well
during her teaching service. She could not recall learning any
radically new skills.
12. Teacher G regarded Home Economics as having a diminishing
role within Technology. She believed prospects for her subject as
being bleak. She reiterated the fears of most Technology
teachers, that Technology would eventually be taught by one
SUBJECT - INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (TECHNOLOGY)
POSITION - INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY COORDINATOR AND HEAD OF I.T.
TEACHING EXPERIENCE - 17 YEARS
1. Teacher H stated that in the past course content was the
decision of the teacher, quite often the teacher in the class
room. The National Curriculum had made this situation difficult
because of the necessity to conform to the requirements of other
subjects under the Technology umbrella. For example, when the
other contributing subjects need I.T. help, then the Information
Technology department will be called in to assist.
2. Teacher H stated that her methods of teaching had changed, to
a large extent. Instead of teaching a course for the whole
academic year, which followed the same timetabling pattern as the
other Technology subjects, I.T. finds itself without a set time
or place on the timetable. The role of the I.T. teacher, as part
of the National Curriculum, means that the subject is (in theory)
taught in a cross-curricular way. I.T. helps other subjects when
they need a "specialist" input.
3. Teacher H suggested that teachers, especially with reference
to Technology teachers, had little say in the construction of
National Curriculum Technology. She said that if this had been
the case, Information Technology would have the same proportion
of time on the timetable that it once enjoyed. She stated that
the National Curriculum did not deal with I.T. adequately.
4. Teacher H felt that the National Curriculum set the tasks of
the I.T. teacher, indirectly, because I.T. has to fit in with
other subjects and is at their "beck and call". All Technology
subjects have to follow the National Curriculum Attainment
Targets closely, and as a result the "tasks" are pre-determined.
6. Teacher H stated that I.T. had lost more skills than any other
subject in Technology. The subject had lost the time it once had
to pass on the necessary skills to pupils. The time was not
available to teach many of the aspects of I.T. As a consequence
pupils leave the I.T. rooms lacking the skills that once could be
taken for granted as being taught.
7. Teacher H compared the teaching of I.T. to a "fast food
outlet". The pupils spend a short time in the I.T. rooms,
enabling them to fulfil the requirements of the National
Curriculum and then they return to whatever subject they came
from. As stated earlier, the pupils possess less I.T. skills
(such as; spreadsheets or database skills). Consequently the
teacher requires less knowledge of these skills in order to teach
his / her subject. Teaching skills have suffered.
8. The need for careful record keeping was emphasised by teacher
H. Evidence that the pupil has achieved a certain level must also
be kept and this has increased the work-load of I.T. teachers.
9. Teacher H insisted that creativity had suffered within I.T.
The pupils spend less time in the I.T. rooms, they pick up less
skills, and cannot experiment with the variety of software they
once had time to use. The pupils are therefore less creative in
their output but also the teacher finds his / her job is less
creative and interesting.
10. Teacher H agreed that the Attainment Targets and Levels,
especially in the recording of pupils levels was rather like a
production line process. The pupils progress from one level to
another, in sequence. Also, the pupils move from one Technology
subject to another as part of a set rotation.
12. Teacher H regarded the future for I.T. teachers as quite
"frightening" with very few prospects to look forward to. At the
moment I.T. teachers feel insecure because of the lack of a place
on the official timetable. The emphasis placed on the need for a
cross-curricular approach has not been fully adopted by schools
and so the position of I.T. teachers was uncertain. As the
specialism of Information Technology recedes it is likely that
non-specialist could teach to a level required by the National
SUBJECT - INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (TECHNOLOGY)
POSITION - TEACHER IN CHARGE OF I.T.
EXPERIENCE - 13 YEARS
1. Teacher I suggested that before the National Curriculum there
was more autonomy and choice regarding both the subject matter
and the way it was taught. Even when less technically advanced
equipment (such as BBC computers) and less professional software
was available, there had been much more independence for the
teacher. The teacher could lead the pupils into any field of
interest which was especially important as computer systems, even
today, are changing rapidly. The National Curriculum has meant
that many Information Technology Teachers are unwilling to try
new software and prefer to use the tried and tested hardware that
fulfils the Attainment Targets. The I.T. teacher generally has
less time with the pupils because of the National Curriculum and
as a result has to ensure certain simple skills are taught, He /
she can not be adventurous.
2. Teacher I emphasised the lack of time that I.T. teachers now
have with pupils. This means that the limited skills have to be
taught quickly which results in a smaller range of strategies
being used. Teacher discretion has been replaced with the need to
provide pupils with facts and simple skills, consequently there
is no time to allow too much pupil discussion. Also the time is
not available to let pupils try out a range of software /
hardware. The National Curriculum has introduced a "modern
version of chalk and talk".
3. Teacher I stated that the National Curriculum had been imposed
and without any time being allowed for consultation and
discussion of the consequencies of the rapid introduction of a
new teaching system.
4. In I.T. the tasks are presented by the Levels of Attainment
which clearly state the skills or techniques the pupils must be
able to master. Teacher I also said that these pupil tasks
determined, in turn, the teacher's tasks.
6. Because of a reduction of the time allowed for Information
Technology and its demise as a separate subject, skills have
suffered. Less skills are introduced to the pupils and those that
are used, are simplified.
7. Teacher I stated that an Information Technology teacher
presenting the National Curriculum has no need for the
considerable skills a Computer Studies teacher needed five years
ago. Teacher I suggested that there was some question concerning
whether any specialists were now required to teach I.T.
8. Teacher I suggested that there had been a "ridiculous increase
in surveillance". He used the example of the "Salford Information
Technology Assessment Sheet". This was a detailed document, to be
used to record and assess a pupils progress in Information
Technology, across a number of subjects. The Information
Technology teacher / coordinator had to use this sheet for each
pupil and systematically assess a pupils progress in the use of
I.T. equipment, in subjects such as; Maths, History, Geography,
Balanced Science, Technology etc... Teacher I referred to this as
an "impossible task". These documents were open to scrutiny by
parents and pupils.
9. Teacher I believed that the creativity of the subject had
previously been based on the I.T. teachers ability to introduce
the pupils to a selection of equipment and software. However, the
pupils now faced a limited selection due to the restrictions of
the National Curriculum. Creativity had decreased for both
teacher and pupil.
11. Teacher I repeated the suggestion that skills had become
simplified for both teacher and pupil. Information Technology was
characterised by "deskilling".
12. Teacher I stated that all Technology teachers were worried
about the future of their subjects and jobs / prospects. It was
possible that in some small schools only one teacher would be
able to deliver viable Technology as defined by the National
SUBJECT - ART/TEXTILES (TECHNOLOGY)
POSITION - TEACHER IN CHARGE OF TEXTILES
TEACHING EXPERIENCE - 12 YEARS
1. Teacher J indicated that before the National Curriculum she
could carry out almost any project with a class so long as at the
end of the fifth year course the pupils had an exhibition that
showed that they had the ability to use a range of design and
practical skills. There was some structure to the course but on
reflection it was the teacher who determined its overall nature.
The pupils in the lower school were taught skills that slowly
increased with difficulty. Teacher autonomy had suffered.
2. Teacher J said that teaching strategies and methods had once
been a product of her own personal development. They did not
require the use of group work / discussion. The National
Curriculum had changed this situation. The teacher could direct
the class to any area of study and interest, covering any
necessary skills. Teacher J suggested that this was unlike the
National Curriculum whereby the pupils, in theory, directed
themselves with the aid of the teacher. The main strategy that
has evolved from the introduction of the National Curriculum has
been that of an "open door". Pupils can decide which specialism;
Home economics, C.D.T, Business Studies, Information Technology
or Art/Textiles, through which they answer their design problem.
In years past, the pupils would have been placed in rotation,
sampling each of the subjects, now they decide themselves.
This teacher felt that the way she teaches has changed and
that her role was one of an adviser or technician to the pupils,
answering their questions and covertly pointing the class in the
right direction. This appeared to be especially the case when the
Standard Assessment Tests were piloted in the Local Education
3. Teacher J felt strongly that the National Curriculum had been
imposed and that teachers had not asked for these changes and had
not been listened to. She implied that whoever had forced the
National Curriculum (Technology) onto schools had little teaching
4. This teacher believed that the National Curriculum sets the
Tasks and that these were the Attainment Targets and especially
the Programmes of Study. They were the tasks for both pupil and
teacher. In her teaching she attempted to relate all aspects of
the projects to the four Attainment Targets, leaving the
Information Technology Attainment Target to the I.T. teacher.
5. Despite attempts to put off, for as long as possible,
conforming to the National Curriculum, teacher J now understands
that it underpins all that is taught in her classroom. She
believes that employers will not accept it as a satisfactory
standard, however, it will still proceed into years 10 and 11.
6. The answer given by teacher J suggested, in definite terms,
that there had been a reduction in the number of skills that the
pupils acquire while taking Technology, as compared to
Art/Textiles in the past. The use of machining has been reduced
with the pupils spending more time on their own form of "record
keeping" and other paper work such as designing. Whilst the class
attempt the project it is not unusual for the machines to stand
idle for several weeks. This, insisted teacher J, contrasts the
reliance on machining skills that had once dominated the subject.
7. Teacher J put forward the view that almost any teacher could
teach National Curriculum Technology as in her opinion it seemed
to be a continuation of junior school work and teaching methods.
She described the specialisms as "old hat" and that they were
being further reduced. When this candidate was trained, practical
skills were the major part of the course, whereas now very few
practical skills are needed by the teacher.
8. Teacher J suggested that the number of parents evenings had
increased mainly as a result of the school having to advertise
itself more aggressively in the educational market place.
Surveillance has increased further with open evenings and the
inevitable reporting and paper work, tied into R.O.A and the
National Curriculum. Teacher J gave the example of her pupil
report that now gives a detailed account of the nature of her
subject as well as an "agreed comment" completed by the pupil.
9. Teacher J answered this question by saying that creativity had
been very important in her subject but with the reduction of the
number of skills that pupils now cover, the creativity side of
the subject had suffered. She said that this fact does not escape
the younger pupils when they see the older pupils work on
display. However, the pupils can still use their imaginations and
they come up with some interesting ideas and designs. But this
creativity cannot be transformed into a finished artifact.
10. Teacher J put forward the view that teachers have always been
part of a production line but with the National Curriculum this
was well defined. The imposition of directed time should be
followed by "clocking in and out" at the beginning and end of the
day, she suggested. However, all pupils are different and it is
sometimes difficult to treat them in the same way, they do not
all progress up the Levels of Attainment at the same rate.
11. Teacher J insisted that the only skill she had developed
since the introduction of the National Curriculum was record
keeping and that one could debate whether this was a new skill.
The National Curriculum had severely set back the Art/Textiles
contribution to the skill content of Technology.
12. Teacher J expressed grave worries about her future and the
future of all Technology teachers. She drew her conclusions from
rumours that staff from the Technology faculty could be lost as
the National Curriculum develops. She did not see all five
contributing subjects surviving especially if Technology becomes
a target for financial savings.
Teacher J suggested that at the moment there was no a need
for a textiles specialist with machining skills such as the
ability to use a knitting machine or even handicraft skills.
SUBJECT - BALANCED SCIENCE
POSITION - HEAD OF SCIENCE
TEACHING EXPERIENCE - 18 YEARS
1. Teacher K expressed the opinion that autonomy had been reduced
since the introduction of the National Curriculum. He suggested
that fewer schemes now exist which means that the science teacher
has less choice. For example schemes such as "Suffolk Science"
are not as available as they once were and this leads to a lack
of variation of courses. He said that up to a few years ago, the
teacher could develop his/her own course in the lower school in
order to best prepare pupils for testing at examination times.
He regarded the Attainment Targets and Levels of Progress as
being "prescriptive" and that there had generally been a watering
down of productive science schemes.
2. Teacher K felt that there had been a definite reduction in the
choice of teaching methods he could adopt. He believed that there
was nothing wrong in using the text book approach with a reliance
on good practical. This had been replaced by the National
Curriculum with a need for a more general, open-ended approach
whereby the pupils discover for themselves. He was insistent that
individual pupil work had "gone out the window", except for the
testing that is required to enable Levels to be determined.
3. Teacher K stated that he or anyone he new in the teaching
profession had been consulted concerning the implementation of
the National Curriculum, or any changes that had taken place
since its introduction. He also said that the National Curriculum
Council had taken no notice of replies by teachers to their
limited information documents and that little time had been given
for such replies.
4. Teacher K gave the impression that generally the National
Curriculum did set the tasks for both pupils and teachers to
complete. For example, the "handling of data" (as outlined by the
science curriculum) had not always been part of science lessons,
however, now it had to be attempted. He put forward the
interesting suggestion that no longer was the teaching of "facts
and figures" an importantant task. This had been replaced by the
task of teaching the problem solving and discovery process.
5. Teacher K stressed that the National Curriculum had to be
followed and so was the framework and "substance" of all science
6. Teacher K regarded science skills as the body of knowledge
that is past on to the pupil. Therefore, he felt that there had
been a comprehensive reduction in skills past onto the pupil. As
he stated earlier, facts had become less important and these had
been replaced with an alternative approach.
7. Teacher K looked upon the teaching of Balanced Science as
opposed to Chemistry, Physics and Biology as less skilful. The
modern science teacher need only have a general affinity for the
8. There had been an increase in surveillance in the form of
record keeping, according to teacher K. However, much of this was
self produced. Very few official documents were available,
although this did not mean that the teacher was not accountable
for his / her work. The emphasis had been placed on the teacher
to record the pupils progress despite the lack of a unified
method of doing so. He did say that Salford Education Authority
had now produced a standard layout for record keeping.
9. Teacher K suggested that the subject science was less creative
as the teacher could only use one syllabus, the National
Curriculum. Variations on this did not exist.
10. He felt that teaching had always had elements of the
production line but this had seen an alarming increase over the
last three years. The way in which the teacher had to complete
topics with the classes and then move onto the next prescribed
topic, had inevitable given rise to the feel of a production
11. There had been the introduction of some new skills but these
were outweighed by the loss of others, according to teacher K.
The new skills included the pupil handling raw experimental data,
and the ability to carry out simple experiments. Research skills
12. Teacher K suggested that in the future there would not be
such a reliance on the need for teachers with a science
background or science qualification. A more generally skilled
(and therefore less skilled) teacher would be required. It may
also be possible for one teacher to deliver all the Attainment
Targets and Levels. However, it would still be necessary to have
a Science Department because the time allocated to the subject
means there is a need for several science teachers, in most
SUBJECT - BALANCED SCIENCE
POSITION - TEACHER OF BALANCED SCIENCE
TEACHING EXPERIENCE - EIGHT YEARS
1. Teacher L feels that there have always been restrictions on
the autonomy of the teacher especially when dealing with
examination boards such as the J.M.B. The syllabus has always
been detailed and so the teacher had to follow exactly what was
stated. However, that did not stop the teaching of other topics
as time was available. In the past teacher L gave pupils a
photocopy of the syllabus so that pupils could follow the various
topics as they progressed through it.
However, this rigid framework has now appeared in the lower
school in the form of the National Curriculum and the pupils and
teachers record progress on "Level" record sheets. There is still
some room for a variety of approaches but this is disappearing
every time the National Curriculum is changed or amended.
2. Teacher L made it clear that teaching strategies have changed.
There is much less use of traditional text books that have been
used until quite recently. The "discovery" approach is popular
whereby pupils carry out more experiments and practical work,
recording their own results. There is much less "chalk and talk".
3. Teacher L felt that the National Curriculum had been imposed
and that the views of teachers were not asked for. Usually
changes have been introduced rapidly and without any consultation
and at times without warning.
4. Most teachers accept that the Attainment Targets and Levels
are the tasks as the Science National Curriculum clearly states
what is required of both teachers and pupils. According to
teacher L there is a set timetable of events with pupils expected
to reach certain levels at a particular age. Previously only the
G.C.S.Es directed teaching and set the tasks but this has
filtered down to Key Stage Three.
5. Teacher L regards the National Curriculum as the Science
6. Teacher L regards deskilling to have taken place in that there
is less factual knowledge taught and less use of tried and tested
text books. On the other hand pupils are expected to develop a
sense of experimentation and an understanding of practical work
(experiments). When pupils are questioned they have less of a
detailed understanding of "school boy science" than they did five
or six years ago but they are more confident and capable of
carrying out experiments.
7. Teacher L felt strongly that a person with a wider range of
skills is now called upon to teach Science. The days of Physics,
Chemistry and Biology teachers is at an end. The teacher need not
have a deep knowledge of any one area of science. This is not
necessarily a less skilled person, but this depends on your point
8. Teacher L suggested that the number of parents evenings and
open evenings were about the same but now the major difference
was that they were part of direct time and so had to be attended.
The increase in record keeping and reporting was regarded as
alarming especially the time consuming use of Records of
Achievement. Teacher L believed that the record keeping is aimed
at satisfying parents.
9. Teacher L thought that the creativity side of the subject has
increased with more reliance on experimental data, practical
activities and data collection.
10. Teacher L has always regarded himself as part of a production
line and that the pupils are the various components. Increased
record keeping and the National Curriculum only serves to confirm
11. Only the skill regarded by teacher L as having developed with
the introduction of the National Curriculum has been the ability
to fill in forms (ie pupil record sheets).
12. The teacher suggests that science finds itself in a
privileged position. It is one of the governments favoured
subjects. However, the combination of Chemistry, Biology and
Physics to form Balanced Science may be a worrying development.
One wonders if this development is a result of a shortage of
specialist science teachers which has led to a less testing
science subject being introduced. Specialisms seem to be
disappearing slowly, although there is a need for specialist
staff still at G.C.S.E and A Level.
SUBJECT - BALANCED SCIENCE
POSITION - HEAD OF SCIENCE
TEACHING EXPERIENCE - TEN YEARS
1. Teacher M found that she had more say concerning what was
taught before the National Curriculum was introduced but sees
several advantages with regards to increased pupil autonomy. The
increase in practical and individual discovery work that pupils
are engaged in, increases the pupils ownership of his/her work.
This teacher also finds that the Programmes of Study can be very
useful and do not necessarily reduce the influence of the teacher
with regard to what is taught in the classroom. Programmes of
study are meant as guidelines and examples.
2. Teacher M looks upon the National Curriculum as providing the
opportunity to introduce new teaching strategies and methods. The
way in which the National Curriculum is structured allows for
this. There has been a definite movement away from facts and
figures to a reliance on more individual project and experiment
3. This teacher looks upon the National Curriculum as being
imposed on teachers. Science staff have not been given a good
opportunity to put their views. Science teachers have found
themselves in an unusual position due to changes that have been
made to the Science National Curriculum. They find themselves
teaching variations of the curriculum to years 7, 8 and 9 having
not being given enough time to adjust to the original version.
4. The Attainment Targets are not regarded as tasks by this
teacher. She suggests that the Attainment Targets exist to assist
the teacher in the structuring of his / her class teaching and
preparation. However, many teachers look upon the ATs as the most
important aspect of the National Curriculum.
5. Yes. Teacher M suggests that no teacher can afford to ignore
the National Curriculum and must teach within its framework.
6. This depends on ones definition of the word "skill". Teacher M
explained that pupils in science carry out more individual work
in the form of experiments and the collection of data than pupils
were previously allowed. It is true to say that pupils five years
ago may have had more ability in science, in that they had a
greater knowledge of the facts. However, this does not
necessarily mean that they possessed more skills.
7. Teacher M regards teachers as having "considerably" more
skills now, although the skills may not be in the form of subject
specialist knowledge and qualifications. Teachers must be more
organised and increasingly capable of performing a range of
assessments. Teachers must also be able to evaluate pupils work
as well as his / her own.
8. Surveillance has increased in teacher M's school recently. She
suggests that in most other schools this is not the case. Teacher
M suggests that record keeping can have the benefit of serving as
a motivating force to pupils and teachers.
9. The level of creativity has increased under the National
Curriculum. Science teachers have to be more aware of the
"process" method of teaching whereby a pupil gains an
understanding of the processes involved in science rather than
facts and figures. The Attainment Targets are closely linked to
process related work.
10. According to teacher M all teachers are part of the
production process but it is not a particularly obtrusive
process. The National Curriculum has only slightly increased this
11. see question 7
12. Teacher M sees science as growing from strength to strength
with the introduction of the National Curriculum, although there
is a move towards Balanced Science. The only problem has been a
reduction of science time on the timetable, previously Chemistry,
Physics and Biology would have had more pupil contact time on the
timetable than combined Balanced Science. In this teachers school
the reduction was 38%.
SUBJECT - MATHEMATICS
POSITION - HEAD OF MATHS
EXPERIENCE - 15 YEARS
1. Teacher N has found that the autonomy of the teacher has
suffered since the introduction of the National Curriculum. He
said that staff previously followed SMP maths and that although
this had been restrictive, in many ways the National Curriculum
now determined precisely what should be taught.
2. Tecaher N suggested that teaching styles had not changed
dramaticially as pupils were still taught through the models
provided by external bodies. Before the National Curriculum this
had been determined by SMP. However, the large number of
Attainment Targets and Levels of Attainment meant that the
teacher had to become more involved with the classroom activity
and that this had caused problems when dealing with the SATs.
These were regarded as virtually unmanageable, as the teacher had
little time to teach the class when these were being carried out.
Teacher N felt that assessment had taken over and that this had
never been the case in the past. The National Curriculum had
definitely caused the changes.
3. Teacher N felt strongly that the National Curriculum had been
imposed and that Maths Departments generally had little say in
its development. Even though one member of the department had
been a Northern Examination Board representative on the
Consortium for Assessment and Tesing in Schools (for Maths)
little consultation with the school took place. Teacher N
suggested that the CATs representative did enable the department
to keep up-to-date with changes although this was an unusal case
as most Maths Departments, in other schools, were kept in the
4. The National Curriculum in maths is quite specific and clearly
states what should be taught. Teacher N stated that there are
five broad headings; Number, Algebra, Measurement, Shape, Space
and Handling Data. Each heading has within it several Attainment
Targets and levels. The maths teacher usually builds tasks around
each Attainment Target.
5. Teacher N stated that the National Curriculum "guides our
every move" and that teachers could not stray from its
6. Teacher N offered the opinion that maths had not suffered too
greatly from deskilling. Pupils still covered a range of topics
and skills. Although many traditional maths teachers felt that
basic maths skills had suffered, such as a pupil's ability to
successfully carry out mental arithmetic.
7. Teacher N suggested that there was less of a need to possess a
degree or even an A'level in Maths in order to teach it to
G.C.S.E level. In fact my attention was drawn to teachers of
maths in this school who between them, did not possess a degree
or even A'levels in maths. Only one of the four members of the
maths department had a formal maths qualification above O'level.
Therefore, the skills of the teacher had seen some reduction
although teacher N blamed this on a lack of maths graduates
willing to follow a career in teaching.
8. Teacher N suggested that surveillance had increased in the
form of the Standard Assessment Tests which were the most
difficult part of the National Curriculum. The amount of
surveillance and work load imposed by the SATs meant it was now
impossible to teach a class when the SATs were being attempted.
The SATs required a detailed report on the work covered by each
child and their progress throughout the SAT activity. Teacher N
suggested that some parents had shown an interest in the
possibility of seeing the SAT work completed by their children,
even though this was just a pilot scheme.
9. Teaching maths had always been creative, although it was more
10. Teacher N felt that the amount of repetitive clerical work
had increased and that this could, at times, feel like a
production line. Teaching the pupils during the SAT activities
also felt like a production line, especially when the assessment
procedures were being followed.
11. Teacher N stated that no new skills had been adopted.
12. Teacher N definitely felt that a specialist maths teacher
would be required, not that the skills were demanding but an
understanding of assessment procedures and the National
Curriculum required the teachers full attention. Teacher N also
suggested, because of the priority given to maths in the media
and by politicians, maths would always be recognised as an
SUBJECT - MATHEMATICS
POSITION - MAIN SCALE MATHS TEACHER
EXPERIENCE - 10 YEARS
1. Teacher O felt that maths teachers could follow a variety of
schemes of work before the National Curriculum, such as "Journey
Through Maths" or even the SMP maths schemes. Also the teacher
could direct the pace of work and number of topics covered.
Although the Head of Department has always had the final say,
teacher O admitted that in general, maths teachers had more
autonomy before the recent changes.
2. Teacher O stated that modern National Curriculum Maths
appears to ensure that the teacher allows pupils to progress at
their own speed of development. This means that within a class
pupils are at any number of Levels of Attainment. Methods and
strategies have had to change too as teaching maths is now based
on helping pupils individually, with the change over from one
topic to another not clearly defined. There has been no choice
regarding the change.
3. Teacher O believed that the National Curriculum had been
imposed although it has been gradually introduced. There had been
no consultation other than the occasional vague questionnaire at
the end of SAT trials. Teacher O suggested that an example of the
way the National Curriculum had been introduced was to be seen in
the way the SATs have recently been changed. Now they are to be
based on written tests rather than course work.
4. Teacher O referred to the National Curriculum "A Pupil
Version" which definitely sets tasks for the pupils to complete.
For example, Attainment Target 4 "Number - Estimation" says quite
clearly what knowledge must be taught and the skills the pupils
must understand. Not only do the pupils know the tasks themselves
but they must complete these in order to progress up the levels.
In the same way as the pupil is restricted, teacher O suggested
that the teacher was also restricted in his / her methods of
teaching and lesson content.
5. Teacher O stated that the pupil version of the National
Curriculum used in this school was the backbone of the subject
and had to be followed almost to the letter.
6. Teacher O suggested that the skills that were taught had
changed but it depended on ones definition of "skills".
Arithmetic had once been the main skill but now pupils had to
complete a broader range of skills, a more relevant course.
Teacher O felt that the skills now taught reflected the changing
needs of the pupils but also emphasised that many would disagree.
7. Teacher O suggested that the modern maths teacher needed to
have a diversity of skills rather than specialist knowledge. A
broader range of general skills were required.
8. Teacher O stated that surveillance had increased especially
with the use of the "Pupil Version" of the National Curriculum.
Pupils and parents now knew exactly what work had to be covered
and how their children had progressed. The National Curriculum
had been behind most of the changes.
9. Teacher O felt that the creativity side of the subject had
suffered as the National Curriculum, despite broadening skills,
still determined how the teacher delivered lessons. Innovation
was now a slow process.
10. Teacher O suggested that the way the pupils progressed,
especially through their own work booklets, did mean that lessons
were geared towards pushing pupils up the levels. This did help
create the atmosphere of a production line of "some type", for
both teacher and pupil. The pupils generally progressed up the
levels at a steady pace.
11. Teacher O stated that no new skills had been developed,
although "traditional" maths teachers may have had to broaden
their outlook and general subject skills.
12. Maths as a subject is very secure and even though the skills
/ knowledge required to teach this subject had been
"generalised". Maths was important politically and therefore jobs
in this subject are secure. Teacher O reminded the interviewer
that there had been some discussion nationally that suggested in
the future maths teachers could expect more pay than other
SUBJECT - ENGLISH
POSITION - HEAD OF ENGLISH
TEACHING EXPERIENCE - 21 YEARS
1. Teacher P felt that there had not been a reduction in teacher
autonomy, in so much that the documentation provided by the
National Curriculum gave the teacher a large amount of self
direction. However, she was inclined to believe that the way in
which it has been interpreted by higher authority (Local
Education Authority) meant that teacher autonomy had suffered.
The structure of the Standard Assessment Tasks in English had
changed from its original form. Before the changes course work
accounted for 70% of the marks whilst the examination at Key
Stage Three was 30%. Now course work accounted for only 20% and
the written examination had seen an increase to 80%. Autonomy had
suffered as the teacher could no longer emphasised skills such as
"imaginative writing" over which the teacher had direct control.
This teacher felt that the assessment procedures meant that the
teacher was limited to teaching within the confines of the
2. Teaching strategies had not changed dramatically. However, the
National Curriculum had to be followed, which meant that certain
skills were looked upon as important (ie Reading and Writing AT2
and AT3) whereas others such as Speaking and Listening (AT1) were
less important. This inevitably changed the emphasis of lessons
and teaching strategies.
3. Teacher P believed that the National Curriculum had been
imposed. Although limited consultation had taken place this
teacher felt that little notice had been taken of replies to
consultation documents. For example, replies to the consultative
document - the "Cox" document - which had been sent to the
government, had been dismissed.
4. Teacher P believes that tasks have not been set for teachers
or pupils to complete. However, certain skills have to be
covered. For example, the "KAL" (Knowledge About Language)
profile component which is part of the National Curriculum, has
to be taught but the teacher can use the appropriate techniques.
The profile components read like a list of skills or tasks but
they are suitably vague.
5. Teacher P felt strongly that the National Curriculum was the
backbone of English as it was written into the Education Acts.
6. Teacher P has not found that there has been a reduction in the
skill content of English. However, a "wholelistic approach" has
to be taken as there has been an increase in the amount of
material and skills to be covered. This meant that the skills
acquired by the pupils were not as complex but they did gain a
wider range of skills.
7. Teacher P was inclined to believe that the skills an English
teacher required in order to teach in the classroom, had not
suffered or been reduced.
8. Teacher P suggested that at this present time surveillance
over the work of an English teacher had not increased. BUT this
would not be the case in the future. The English Department was
to be the first department in the school to be evaluated by the
Local Education Authority and the success of the subject would be
assessed. Also, with the National Curriculum, there would be an
increase in the number of subject moderators to ensure that the
National Curriculum was being followed in every school.
9. Teacher P expressed the view that English as a subject
possessed the same amount of creativity as it did before the
National Curriculum and that teaching English was still as
creative as ever.
10. Teacher P did not feel part of a production process although
she felt that the monitoring and evaluation introduced by the
National Curriculum would, in future, ensure full compliance with
the directives. It was not the National Curriculum that led to
production line methodology but the way in which the it had been
11. No new skills had been developed by this teacher.
12. Teacher P maintained that at the moment it was necessary to
have specialist English teachers. However, in the future it may
be possible for less skilled/trained teachers to deliver English.
The main reason for this was the introduction of published
schemes of work which led to reliance on booklets with the
subject content "set in concrete".