Department for Education
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New secondary curriculum creates time to focus on the basics and stretch high achievers

New secondary curriculum creates time to focus on the basics and stretch high achievers

DEPARTMENT FOR CHILDREN, SCHOOLS AND FAMILIES News Release (2007/0127) issued by The Government News Network on 12 July 2007

Classic subject knowledge protected as duplication is reduced

The new Secondary Curriculum, unveiled today, will free up around a quarter of the school day to enable teachers to give more help to pupils struggling to master the basics in English and Maths and raise standards higher across the board.

Ministers asked the QCA to review the curriculum to create flexibility for schools to provide "catch up" support in literacy and numeracy for teenagers who are struggling while stretching those with particular talents and gifts in subjects.

Children, Schools and Families Secretary Ed Balls announced that the new curriculum will cut clutter and reduce duplication and enable schools to do much more with the traditional school day to prepare pupils for the demands of today's world. As well as an even sharper focus on literacy and numeracy and retaining established subject knowledge, the new curriculum places greater emphasis on equipping young people with the personal, learning and thinking skills they need to succeed in employment and adult life.

Mr Balls said: "By cutting waste and duplication in the curriculum, I am giving teachers the time to concentrate on what is really vital.

"I have protected the classic elements of the curriculum that have stood the test of time such as Shakespeare, algebra, historic dates and the World Wars. And I want these to be taught even better - in a lively, exciting way which enthuses and motivates.

"In a rapidly changing world, we also need a school curriculum which evolves to provide teenagers with the up to date knowledge they will need to succeed.

"Every child should have a good grasp of grammar, spelling and arithmetic. They should also have wider skills that increasingly employers and universities demand, such as the ability to express themselves and think clearly and have a dynamic 'can do' attitude. They also need to learn skills to help them excel in a fast-changing world - for example: financial capability and learning economically useful languages like Mandarin and Urdu.

"We must help our children flourish by developing their personal skills as global citizens while maintaining a rigorous focus on traditional subject knowledge, exam results and high academic standards. So there's more emphasis on developing in-depth understanding of the key ideas, skills and content of each subject discipline."

The new curriculum follows the first major review of the curriculum since 2000 which was launched for consultation by the QCA in February. It will come into force from September 2008.

Some of the key changes and retained elements include:

- History: Pupils will continue to learn about important events of the last century, such as the World Wars and the Holocaust and also study key aspects of British History including Medieval History and the Industrial Revolution while also learning about the history of the slave trade. The importance of dates will be taught and chronological understanding will underpin studies;

- English: Teenagers will continue to study Shakespeare as well as the canon of pre-20th century literary classics including Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy and George Eliot;

- Languages: While continuing to study French, Spanish and German, schools will also get greater freedom to offer economically useful world languages such as Mandarin and Urdu;

* Citizenship: Following Keith Ajegbo's review, pupils will learn shared British values and study national identity in the UK through the prism of History, including covering issues such as the legacy of the British Empire;

* Geography: Pupils will continue to use atlases and maps and learn about human and physical geography. Sustainable development, environmental change and world poverty will be given a much stronger focus as a theme throughout the curriculum to prepare youngsters to become more global citizens;

* Cooking: Pupils aged 11-14 will get an entitlement to cook and will be taught how to make simple, healthy meals from basic fresh ingredients, helping to combat obesity;

* Science: Will remain a core compulsory subject in the curriculum and all pupils who reach the required level will have entitlement to study triple separate sciences (Physics, Chemistry and Biology) at GCSE by September 2008;

* Economic Wellbeing: Pupils will be taught essential financial life skills through functional maths and in Personal Social Health and Economic Education (PSHE). These will include: personal finance, enterprise and financial capability; learning about risk and reward; investment and trade; personal budgeting; mortgages; interest rates; and balancing credit cards;

* PE: Lessons will combine physical activity with learning how exercise affects fitness and health and schools will also have even more flexibility to run the physical activities that best meet their pupils' needs.

All 11-14 year old pupils will continue to study all 12 subjects of the National Curriculum. These subjects will remain the backbone of a broad and balanced curriculum for this age group.

The secondary curriculum will put more emphasis on personal skills such as initiative and the capacity to learn independently, better preparing pupils for GCSEs and the new Diplomas. There is growing evidence of the importance of these skills in all walks of life.

The new curriculum will also help to ensure that young people are well-prepared for the choices they make during the all important 14-19 phase, whether they choose to study GCSEs, A Levels, Diplomas or Apprenticeships. It will also give them the grounding they need to succeed in the new functional skills qualifications which all young people will take in future.

NOTES TO EDITORS

This press notice relates to 'England'

1. Following the consultation on the revised curriculum launched in February, the Qualifications Curriculum Authority (QCA) provided formal advice to Ministers in early June before the curriculum was finalised by Ministers. The new curriculum will be available to schools for planning purposes from September 2007.

2. The new Key Stage 3 curriculum will be phased in over a three year period. It becomes statutory for Year 7 pupils in September 2008; from September 2009, it will apply to all Year 7 and Year 8 pupils; and from September 2010 it will apply across Years 7, 8 and 9. Changes to the Key Stage 4 curriculum begin rolling out in September 2009.

3. The first five Diplomas will be taught from September 2008 in 145 consortia of schools and colleges in 97 Local Authorities. 14 Diplomas will eventually be available to all young people aged 14-19 from 2013. All students will be studying new functional skills qualifications either as part of their GCSEs or as stand alone qualifications. The functional skills qualifications are being piloted in schools and colleges from September 2007.

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