From Austen to E-Mails: Everything Your Child Needs to Learn at School

By Judith Judd and Ben Russell | The Independent (London, England), May 14, 1999 | Go to article overview
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From Austen to E-Mails: Everything Your Child Needs to Learn at School


Judith Judd and Ben Russell, The Independent (London, England)


COMPULSORY LESSONS in citizenship, the 20th-century authors J G Ballard and David Hare, and the scientists John Logie Baird and Marie Curie take their places for the first time in the new national curriculum published yesterday.

The curriculum aims to strike a balance between preparing pupils to cope with life in modern Britain and ensuring that they are taught about their heritage.

English will continue to feature Jane Austen and Dickens, and history will retain Boudicca and Nelson, but a new subject, citizenship, will be compulsory in secondary schools and recommended for primary children. From the autumn, a new website and a series of leaflets will give details of the curriculum and advice on books to read, exhibitions to see and museums to visit so that parents can help their children. David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, said yesterday that citizenship lessons would teach children to have more pride in their own culture while respecting that of others. "Americans reinforce their identity in ways we never have. We have tended to down-play our culture and we need to reinforce our pride in what we have," he said. Mr Blunkett emphasised that he did not intend to promote a "little England" view of the world. Children would "welcome other people's cultures because they have strength and confidence in their own". Secondary school pupils will learn not only about proportional representation and how Parliament works but also how to resolve moral dilemmas and take part in community service. For primary schools, citizenship lessons will be part of existing courses in personal, social and health education. From the age of five, children will learn the differences between right and wrong. The changes will reduce the details prescribed in the curriculum by around a third. Mr Blunkett wants primary schools to concentrate on literacy and numeracy, which are at the heart of the Government's campaign to raise standards. Teachers will have more freedom to decide what they teach in subjects such as history and geography. Ministers also want to make it easier for secondary schools to release disaffected pupils from compulsory subjects from the age of 14 so that they can pursue more work-related studies or spend time in the workplace. About 500 schools have already applied for some 10 per cent of their pupils to pursue vocational alternatives. Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said the curriculum was still too overloaded. "If the Government wants to add to it, it must stipulate other subjects to be dropped," he said. Mr Blunkett retorted that when teachers' leaders read the proposals, which will be the subject of consultation, they would "eat their words". Leading article, Review, page 3 Malcolm Bradbury, Review, page 4 A COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE NEW CURRICULUM SUBJECTS ENGLISH AGE 5-7 Read and write, listen and speak. Use words to explore imaginary worlds. AGE 7-11 Different uses for writing and speaking. Read and write fiction and non-fiction. AGE 11-14 Formal writing and public speaking. Study Shakespeare play, and other classic literature. AGE 14-16 Study another Shakespeare play; writers from Christopher Marlowe to Stevie Smith and David Hare. MATHS Count, read and write numbers up to 100. Learn to add and subtract. Multiply, divide and learn times tables. Start on fractions and decimals Percentages, ratios, algebra, graphs, working with data and probability. Powers, roots and standard numbers. solve equations and understand proofs. SCIENCE Ask questions, find answers about animals, plants, electricity, light and sound. Gather evidence to test ideas: Try melting, boiling, dissolving and evaporating.

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From Austen to E-Mails: Everything Your Child Needs to Learn at School
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