Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Lifestyle lessons could cut amount of subjects taught

The Daily Mail reports that lessons in healthy lifestyles and sex education could replace traditionalacademic subjects in a shake-up of primary school teaching planned by Ed Balls. Pupils could even be assessed on their ‘personal development’ as well as the three Rs.

The Schools Secretary has ordered an inquiry into primary school lessons to consider whether pupils are currently studying too many subjects. Now the team behind the review has said heads and teachers agree there should be reductions both in the ‘number of subject areas’ and the subject content pupils cover.

Instead they want pupils to study ‘concepts and skills’ that cut across traditional curriculum areas and a stronger focus on personal development, including healthy eating, ‘self-esteem’, sex and relationships, drugs and philosophy.

The demands are being considered by former Ofsted boss Sir Jim Rose, who is conducting the primary review on behalf of Mr Balls. e is due to publish an interim report next month with final conclusions due next year.

As part of the review, officials conducted 60 seminars across England, involving 1,500 heads, teachers, classroom assistants, governors, parents and pupils. he report on the events claimed participants viewed literacy, numeracy and personal development as having equal importance. spects of personal development considered vital included ‘healthy lifestyles, sex and relationships, drugs and alcohol, philosophy, self-esteem and helping children to understand multiple cultural identities’.

Participants felt these areas should be the ‘central driver’ behind the curriculum. According to the report, personal development should build on existing lessons in ‘social and emotional aspects of learning’, which cover happiness and respect for others.

The report, published by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, which is assisting Sir Jim, raises the prospect of a threat to the teaching of distinct subject such as history, geography, music, art and technology. It follows a warning by academics yesterday that the review threatens the prominence of science.

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: ‘Subjects don’t come in boxes. Our geography affects our history and putting these together in a topic-based approach seems to me absolutely sensible.’

But Tory schools spokesman Nick Gibb said: ‘This approach was tried in the 1960s and 1970s and failed, and it will fail again. 'We need primary schools to focus on maths and English and give childrenan introduction to the history of our country and the geography of the world. The way to raise self-esteem is to ensure children are fluent readers by six or seven, and through sports days and team sports.’

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