Primaries to Put Computer Skills on a Par with the 3rs

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Byline: Laura Clark Education Correspondent

PRIMARY schools will today be told to put computer skills on the same footing as the three Rs and strip back history and geography in favour of 'theme-based' lessons.

Ministers will unveil a blueprint for a primary curriculum, which will require pupils as young as five to study blogging and Google Earth, as well as mastering search engines and writing emails.

At the same time, traditional subjects such as history and geography will be cut back in favour of lessons based around themes and social causes, including healthy eating and 'well-being'.

Schools Secretary Ed Balls will today accept recommendations for the biggest shake-up of primary education in 20 years, put forward by former Ofsted chief Sir Jim Rose.

But last night the Conservatives voiced deep concerns about the plans, which have been called 'an assault on knowledge' by critics.

They published an analysis of official figures showing more than three million children have left primary school without a proper grounding in the basics since Labour came to power in 1997. Last year alone, almost 230,000 did not achieve the standard.

Nick Gibb, Tory schools spokesman, said: 'Ministers need to make sure the primary curriculum is rigorous and protects proper subject teaching.

'The suggestion of merging proper history and geography lessons into vague humanities "themed learning" would take primary education in the wrong direction.

'Ministers must resist the temptation to give in to the latest fads.' Mr Balls will also say that information and communications technology should become a 'new core skill alongside reading and writing'.

In English, youngsters will be taught how to 'skim, scan and use key word searching and other features of texts to locate and select information' and use webcams, podcasts and video.

Literature will be defined more widely to include websites and emails, while pupils will be taught to 'adjust what they say where communication is facilitated by technology'.

However a reference to the microblogging site Twitter is understood to have been left out of the plans follow- ing an outcry. …