Our nine-year-old son, who has always expressed distaste for "literacy" at school in England, recently spent five months in an Australian primary in Perth. There, he was encouraged to express his ideas in all sorts of ways, from dance to painting, and was given daily quiet time to keep a personal journal, which the teacher reviewed periodically with encouraging remarks.
Yet the maths and science curriculum was also very challenging.
Back in England, his writing tasks in Years 3 and 4 have been tightly prescribed. As a result, children become frustrated by the requirement to fit their ideas into the frameworks imposed upon them and may give up trying.
It seems as if the English system is afraid to allow pupils to develop their own personalities and approaches, believing they are not ready to think independently and constructively for themselves.
Needless to say, on his return to England, our son has quickly reverted to his preference for maths and IT, despite the efforts of a committed class teacher. The national curriculum is turning children away from creativity in English primary schools well before they reach secondary level.