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The implementation of the National Curriculum Science Key Stage 3 1989-92: Six case studies.

Doherty, Mary. (1994) The implementation of the National Curriculum Science Key Stage 3 1989-92: Six case studies. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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The Education Reform Act of 1988, bought about the most far reaching changes to the education system of England and Wales since the 1944 Education Act. The climate of change was instigated when James Callaghan gave his famous Ruskin Speech in 1976 and was further secured by Sir Keith Joseph highlighting the education system's deficiences and preparing public opinion for change. The climate of change in Science Education was fostered by such documents as "Science 5-16 -A Statement of Policy' and the work of the Association for Science Education and the School Science Review and others which called for a broad and balanced science education for all pupils from 5-16. Part of the 1988 Act required the Secretary of State for Education to establish a National Curriculum of ten subjects, starting first with the core subjects of English, mathematics and science. The research looks at how the National Curriculum for Science was shaped and communicated to teachers. A case study approach was used to identify the aspects of policy and practice which had supported the introduction and the implementation of the science curriculum and its assessment. The case study schools were in an LEA which was considered to be in the fore front of curriculum development and so part of the research describes the context and readiness of these schools to implement the National Curriculum. The research shows that both the Science Working Group and the Task Group on Assessment and Testing managed to carry science teachers with them as they wrestled with a structure for the National Curriculum and its assessment which would find favour with the Secretary of State for Education. The research also hints at the possibility that ultimately there may have, been a lack of congruence with the vision of the Secretary of State for Education and that of the Science Working Group and the Task Group on Assessment and Testing. On reading about the complexity of the administrative demands of the National Curriculum the reader may have a sense of frustration. This frustration can only be a faint echo of that felt by teachers as they tried to create and then implement their own vision of the National Curriculum and its assessment. At school level the implementation was a radical change representing as it did a complete polarisation - prior to the National Curriculum science teachers had enjoyed influencing curriculum development in what could be called a periphery to the centre model, that is, where grass root developments by teachers had an influence and impact on the teaching of science both locally and nationally. Now they were faced 'with the complete reversal, a model where the curriculum was shaped centrally and disseminated to teachers at the' periphery. The quality of implementation and its effect on pupils' learning was very much determined by the culture of the science department, the nature of the department team, their approach to corporate planning and the quality of the leadership shown by the Head of Department. The research concludes by highlighting that the implementation was impeded by the poor communication of the vision from the centre to the periphery and this was because, to some extent, central bodies were confused about what they should be prescribing. Initially the intention of the government was to prescribe and lay down by statute the content and nature of the curriculum, that is, the "what" of the curriculum rightly leaving the "how", the methodology for teachers to decide. It would seem from the research that those responsible for communicating the vision of the curriculum were unclear about this point and there were many attempts to influence how the prescribed curriculum should be taught. Ultimately, curriculum development is about teacher development and this is the challenge for the next five years to organise and support a system of teacher development which recognises that educational change is a complex phenomenon but in the final analysis educational change is an individual achievement. Lifelong learning for teachers and pupils must be the priority.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors :
Doherty, Mary.
Date : 1994
Contributors :
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 09 Nov 2017 12:12
Last Modified : 16 Mar 2018 15:23

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