Lower secondary has always been boring. It was dull before the key stage 3 strategy launched in September 2001 and it remains so for vast numbers of children. So experiments are now under way to see what happens if the KS3 curriculum is compressed into two years (see page 9). Ministers will never abolish the misery and angst of being 13, or reduce the length of adolescence through structural change.
What they should be thinking about is what sort of schooling will really suit children at this difficult and exciting phase of life. Schools in the pilot are planning to use Year 9 for enrichment or to start GCSE work early. Both are worrying. The new 14 to 19 "Learning Journey" will mean bigger choices at KS4, which 13-year-olds may be too young to make. And shouldn't the curriculum be enriched and creative the whole way through?