Monday, 8 December 2008

Primary curriculum overhaul

The Daily Mail reports that the blueprint was drawn up by former Ofsted chief Sir Jim Rose following a request from Children's Secretary Ed Balls. It amounts to the biggest shake-up of primary schooling since the Tories introduced a national curriculum in 1988. The national curriculum was organised around 11 subjects - an arrangement that has broadly continued to this day.

The Conservatives last night warned the plans, likely to come into force in 2011, would lead to a 'further erosion of standards'. They pointed to similar 'child-centric' reforms of the Sixties and Seventies which experts say led to a collapse in literacy and numeracy. Tory education spokesman Michael Gove said: 'In adopting this throwback to the 1960s, the Government is denying the highest quality of education to children in the state sector. The experiment with this kind of ideology - moving away from facts, knowledge and rigour - failed 40 years ago and will fail again.'

Under the plan, history, geography and religious education will be merged into 'human, social and environmental' studies. Other areas cover communication (English and modern languages), science and technology, maths, physical health and wellbeing, and the arts.

The aim of scrapping distinct subjects is to allow teachers to introduce them in other parts of the curriculum, for example teaching literacy or history through design and technology.

However, 69-year-old Sir Jim, the Government's key adviser on primary schools, insisted that some subject- specific teaching would remain, saying: 'High-quality subject teaching must not disappear from primary schools.' He added that he was not advocating a return to the 'vagaries of old-style topic and project work'.

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