School curriculum 'slimmed down'

Published on Thursday, 20 January 2011 09:16
Posted by Scott Buckler

The number of compulsory subjects in England's national school curriculum is to be cut to four from September by Education Secretary Michael Gove


All schools will have to teach English, maths, science and PE with experts to advise on what should be focused on. Mr Gove also wants to set out the "essential knowledge" children should have - including a "connected narrative" of British history.

Head teachers hope there will be "less prescription" in the new curriculum.

At the moment, the government in England sets out which subjects children have to learn at various stages and says what should be covered in them.

There are five subjects which are compulsory under the national curriculum for all age groups - English, ICT, mathematics, PE and science. In the early years of secondary school, 13 subjects are statutory and this drops to seven for pupils aged between 14 to 16.

This last group is made up of: English, maths, citizenship, PE, ICT, science and Religious Education (schools have to teach RE but parents have the right to withdraw their children from the lessons).

The new government believes the current national curriculum is over-prescriptive, includes material that is not essential, and specifies teaching methods rather than content.

It says there should be more emphasis on what facts are taught, arguing that there should be a core knowledge that pupils should have to take their place as "educated members of society".

The government will give more details about the shake-up of the curriculum later when Mr Gove visits a school in west London with members the expert panel, which includes head teachers.

The panel is being asked to advise on what the key components of the compulsory subjects should be - and what should be taught under the other, non-compulsory subjects.

They might also advise on whether any other subjects should become compulsory.

At the Conservative Party Conference, Mr Gove said it was a "tragedy of our time" that children were growing up ignorant of the history of the United Kingdom.

Source: BBC News

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