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The curriculum allows flexibility

Over the past two weeks there has been much debate in your newspaper about the secondary curriculum and themed lessons. I would like to set the record straight.

The national curriculum enshrines pupils' entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum. It is structured around subject requirements, but this has never been a prescription for how it must be delivered. Schools have always had the flexibility to present the curriculum in a way that best meets the needs of their pupils.

Excellent subject teaching is fundamental to pupils' learning; and excellent subject teaching will always make links within and between subjects. The new secondary curriculum supports this with a context of themes which relate to issues vital to understanding the world, such as cultural diversity and sustainable development. The challenge for schools is to set clear aims that focus on the qualities and skills learners need to succeed, aims that inform all aspects of planning for teaching and learning.

The QCA uses case studies on its website to illustrate how different schools are using the curriculum in a variety of contexts, sometimes very challenging. They do not present schools as beacons, but are examples of how the curriculum can be organised as a starting point for discussion in others.

The QCA works with all schools, whether they face challenges or are highly successful.

On another note, Ofsted released a report in October on curriculum innovation and found that in most of the 30 schools visited, the innovations led to clear improvements in pupils' achievement and development.

There are endless examples all over the country of teachers and staff working hard to design a curriculum that meets the needs of their community and provides indelible learning experiences. We should acknowledge and celebrate their work.

Mick Waters, Director of curriculum, Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.

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