Draft Primary National Curriculum


Plans to restore rigour in the key primary subjects have been set out by Education Secretary Michael Gove in new draft Primary National Curriculum Programmes of Study for English, maths and science.

The changes set out for consultation by the Department for Education represent the latest shake-up of what is taught in primary schools in England.

The publication of the draft programmes follow a report by an Expert Panel, chaired by Tim Oates, which made recommendations on the framework for a new National Curriculum, and a parallel report by the Department for Education which identified the key features of curricula for maths, science and English in high-performing jurisdictions.

The first versions of the new programmes are designed to update the curricula so that the syllabuses taught in the best primary schools are rolled out across the country.
Under the draft proposals, teachers will also be expected to demand more of their pupils, with more advanced topics and higher achievement targets.
In mathematics, pupils will be expected to know their tables up to 12x12 by the age of nine, for example, while English lessons are to take a greater focus on phonetics and pupils will be encouraged to read more for pleasure.
Science lessons, meanwhile, are to involve greater emphasis on knowledge with new, more advanced topics added to the syllabus and more focus on practical experiments.
It is hoped that by improving standards in literacy, numeracy and science at primary schools, pupils joining secondary schools will be more equipped to learn advanced topics.
As well as the core subjects, existing requirements to teach other subjects will be maintained, though schools will now be required to teach modern languages from age seven.

Russell Hobby, leader of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "The proposals are less dramatic than they seem at first glance.

"Nine out of 10 primaries already teach a foreign language. Phonics is also already widely used, and speaking and listening are similarly encouraged."

Mary Bousted, head of the ATL teachers' union, was critical of the proposals, saying: "Politicians who have been in the job for two years are presenting a heavily-prescribed curriculum as a fait accompli to thousands of teachers - many of whom have decades of experience in the classroom."

Meanwhile Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg said: "Labour supports a strong focus on the core subjects of English, Maths and Science from an early age, as well as making learning a foreign language compulsory from age seven."

"The government must ensure it bases its reforms not on ideology, but on what works in the classroom".