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New curriculum introduced this month

01/09/2014 Joanna
A new curriculum is being rolled out to schools this year, which will lead to more demanding standards for millions of pupils.

Fractions and computer coding will be taught to five-year-olds, while pupils in early secondary school will have to study at least two Shakespeare plays.

The curriculum is to be taught in all local authority primary and secondary institutions, although it will not be compulsory in academies, which now form the majority of secondary schools, the BBC reports.

It places an emphasis on skills such as essay writing, problem-solving, mathematical modelling and computer programming.

The changes have been introduced to emulate the success of some of the world's top education systems, including Hong Kong, Massachusetts, Singapore and Finland, while incorporating innovations and developments from schools in the UK.

Reforms 'critical for UK prosperity'

Prime minister David Cameron said: "This curriculum marks a new chapter in British education. From advanced fractions to computer coding to some of the greatest works of literature in the English language, this is a curriculum that is rigorous, engaging and tough.

"As a parent this is exactly the kind of thing I want my children to be learning. And as prime minister I know this revolution in education is critical for Britain's prosperity in the decades to come."

It is hoped the reforms will equip British youngsters with the skills and knowledge they need to boost their career prospects, while enabling the UK to succeed in what the government calls "the global race".

Subject changes

The history curriculum will enable primary school pupils to study British history from the Stone Age to the Normans, with an option to study a later era, such as the Victorians. Those in secondary schools will study Britain from 1066 to 1901, then selected events in Britain Europe and the world after 1901.

In English, there will be more emphasis on Shakespeare, while more rigorous spelling standards will involve youngsters in year ten and 11 spelling words such as "accommodate" and "rhythm".

Particularly radical changes have been made to the computing curriculum, with pupils aged five to seven expected to have an understanding of algorithms and to be able to create and debug simple programs.

When youngsters reach the age of 11, they will have to "design, use and evaluate computational abstractions that model the state and behaviour of real-world problems and physical systems".

The Department for Education (DfE) announced funding last year to help those in teaching jobs prepare for the demanding new computing curriculum.

Some £1.1 million was provided for the British Computer Society - the Chartered Institute for IT - to develop a computing readiness programme for those with no prior experience of computer science.

Compulsory languages

Another big change is that pupils in secondary schools will have to learn foreign languages from September this year.

Youngsters aged between seven and 11 will be required to reach high levels of written and spoken communication in one of seven languages, including French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish, Latin and Greek.

Business leaders have recently emphasised the importance of language skills to the British economy, with two-thirds of companies identifying the need for these abilities.

Katja Hall, CBI deputy director-general, said the decline in the number of people studying such subjects at schools and universities has been "worrying" and it is uncertain whether recent government initiatives can reverse the trend.


Concerns have been raised by some teachers that the timetable for the introduction of the new subjects is unrealistic, with the Association of Teachers and Lecturers warning that many have not had time to get to grips with the new curriculum.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, said problems could arise while teaching the new maths curriculum.

"In maths you need to learn the early concepts before you learn the later concepts, so there is a problem that there will be children who have not learned the earlier concepts before being expected to learn the more demanding ones."

However, a spokesperson for the DfE said it was confident the reforms would be introduced according to the government's timeframe and this is a result of efforts on behalf of the UK's "high-quality teaching profession".

Posted by Alan DouglasADNFCR-2164-ID-801745931-ADNFCR
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