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Going round in circuits

Content has been cut and pupils will be expected to learn applied maths in areas such as plumbing, engineering and new technology, as part of Tony Blair's controversial drive to introduce "life skills" to the curriculum.

The guidelines also require pupils to learn about "mathematics from different cultures" and discover how to make sense of facts and figures in websites and newspaper articles.

However, Doug French, president of the Maths Association, said he did not think the changes would make much difference in the classroom. "There are no substantial changes to the attainment targets and a cynic would say that unless pupils are tested on something, they won't be taught it," he said.

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