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ERIC Number: ED502359
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 297
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-8477-5212-3
Comparison of the Core Primary Curriculum in England to Those of Other High Performing Countries. Research Report DCSF-RW048
Ruddock, Graham; Sainsbury, Marian
National Foundation for Educational Research
This study looks at the curricula for mathematics, science and literacy, comparing England's curricula with those of other countries based on performance in international comparative surveys. The main objective was to answer the question: How does the content of the Primary Curriculum in England at Key stage 2 compare in literacy, math and science to a range of high performing countries? Secondary questions included: (1) How do good curricula deal with and accommodate a wide spread of ability, and what lessons could be learnt and transferred to England? and (2) How are the curricula of a range of high performing countries implemented in practice? Selected findings for Mathematics include: (1) The structure of England's mathematics curriculum, by content, is similar to most of the others in comparator countries; (2) The Basic division into number, geometry and data handling is common amongst the curricula; (3) Emphasis on process is shared by most of the other curricula; (4) England's curriculum for number processing is judged to be narrower and less demanding than the majority of the other curricula; (5) In data handling, the curriculum in England is broader and more demanding than those elsewhere; (6) Emphasis in England on visualization and transformational geometry is not shared by the other countries; and (7) Much of the content of England's mathematics curriculum is also included in the other curricula. Findings in Science include: (1) The structure of England's science curriculum, Scientific enquiry and then divided by content, is one of a variety of structures seen in the comparator countries; (2) Basic division of content into biology, chemistry and physics was not widely shared; (3) Emphasis on scientific enquiry is shared by all of the other curricula, but not all have it as a structural element; (4) England's curriculum for Physical processes is judged to be narrower and less demanding than comparator curricula; (5) England's curriculum for Life p and living things is judged to be narrower than those elsewhere, but not always less demanding; (6) For both Scientific enquiry and Materials and their properties the tendency is for the level of demand to be similar to most of the other curricula; and (7) Much of the content of England's science curriculum is also included in the other curricula. Findings in Literacy include: (1) The structure of England's literacy curriculum by language mode is not replicated in any of the comparator curricula; (2) Literacy curricula in the comparator countries are much more likely to include an elaboration of underlying philosophy and rationale than England; (3) Some of the comparator literacy curricula are expressed in general terms which make it difficult to reliably compare difficulty and breadth; and (4) No overall patterns could be detected, although broadly, the coverage of England's literacy curriculum appears similar to that in the other curricula. Overall, several countries were found to have mandatory or recommended time allocations for mathematics, science and literacy. Science allocations were substantially lower than for mathematics in some countries. Literacy allocations tended to be higher than those for mathematics, but this was sometimes because pupils were not being taught in their native languages. No consistency was found in whether the time allocated to subjects increased with time, stayed the same or decreased. None of the curricula examined were accompanied by mandatory instructions on how mathematics, science or literacy were to be taught. England is not unusual in this respect. (Contains 10 footnotes, 1 figure, and 55 tables. Individual chapters contain references.) [This report was written with Tandi Clausen-May, Hanna Vappula, Keith Mason, Eira Wyn Patterson, Katie Pyle, Anne Kispal, Rifat Siddiqui, Sarah McNaughton, and Felicity Rees. Foreword by John Gray.]
National Foundation for Educational Research. The Mere, Upton Park, Slough, Berkshire, SL1 2DQ, UK. Tel: +44-1753-574123; Fax: +44-1753-637280; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Foundation for Educational Research
Identifiers - Location: Canada; China; Hong Kong; Italy; Latvia; Netherlands; Singapore; Sweden; Taiwan (Taipei)