The Impact of the National Strategies in Education

The National Strategies for schools are a series of high-profile government-backed programmes to promote reforms to the education system and what is taught in schools. They include:

  • The Primary National Strategy – launched in 2003
  • The National Literacy Strategy – launched in 1998 and now part of the Primary National Strategy
  • The National Numeracy Strategy – launched in 1999 and now part of the Primary National Strategy
  • The Key Stage 3 National Strategy – launched in 2000
  • The Secondary National Strategy for School Improvement 2005-6 – launched in 2005
  • Plus a range of smaller strategies dealing with specific subject areas – e.g. technology, languages.

Knowledge bank

The National Strategies for schools have impacted on the work of teachers perhaps more than any other government initiative over the last five years – especially in primary schools.

Teachers are now working under much more prescription about what they teach and even how they teach it than ever before -notably in literacy and numeracy – though there have been recent moves to allow more flexibility following something of a backlash from teachers.

The National Strategies have, nevertheless, done much to help improve standards in schools, especially where whole schools have been committed to taking on board the principles – across the curriculum as well as in the more obvious areas.

A key challenge for teachers is how to embrace the National Strategies – which have often come with statutory force – while still covering an appropriate curriculum and by teaching in ways that are in line with their own and their school’s ethos and values.

Secondary schools have been less influenced by the National Strategies, though targeted efforts at Key Stage 3 have been necessary and subject teachers have been required to consider the cross-curricular implications of the other strategies.

One of the criticism of the strategies is that there have been rather too many of them, on top of a range of other new initiatives, projects and targets for schools to consider.

A renewed Primary Framework for Literacy and Mathematics was launched in October 2006, updating and refreshing many of the materials in the original National Strategies.

Ask yourself

  • How do the National Strategies for schools impact on your day-to-day work in the classroom? Which has/have the most influence on your work?
  • In what ways do the National Strategies aid your work as a teacher? How can they hinder your work?
  • How easy is it for you to incorporate the principles and practicalities of the National Strategies into your personal vision for education? If there are conflicts how can they be resolved?

To do list

  • Ensure that you’re fully familiar with the sections of the National Strategy documents that refer most to your day-to-day work. You cannot form informed opinions unless you understand the contents of the documents and the implications for your teaching.
  • Learn how other teachers in similar circumstances to you are making sense of the National Strategies in their schools. Identify things you can try in your own classroom. Share your successes with others.
  • Draw up an action plan that will enable you to ensure that any work to promote the National Strategies is in line with your school’s and your own personal philosophy for education.

Author: Shawn

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