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Lessons with a link to life

Despite ministerial meddling, a new curriculum for 11 to 14-year-olds is set to please teachers

TEENAGERS WILL be expected to learn about climate change, read David Copperfield, study the world wars and be taught to cook and develop "life skills" in a curriculum to be published on Monday.

The Government called for an overhaul of lessons for children aged 11 to 14 because of the disaffection and dip in performance among some pupils in their first years of secondary school.

But the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's original remit to allow teachers greater flexibility appears to have been undermined by a series of ministerial interventions since the arrival of Alan Johnson as Education Secretary.

He has said that there should be a list of prescribed authors, including Dickens and Trollope, and that the history of slavery and the two world wars must be taught.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "Ministers feel they have to be seen to be doing something about whatever is in the newspapers and they turn to schools to do it for them."

But in other subjects teachers are welcoming the less prescriptive document they expect the QCA to publish. There will be an emphasis on creativity and the need for pupils to relate to the world outside school by studying subjects through a local perspective.

A new strand in citizenship lessons will include immigration and equal opportunities. Greater cultural understanding is also expected to be included in music and art, where pupils will study different international traditions.

The latest buzzwords "life skills" are to be emphasised as employers say they need candidates in tune with a post-industrial economy.

Sue Johnston-Wilder, chair of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics, said she was expecting teachers to be given the freedom to make maths more relevant by showing how it related to subjects such as global warming.

"It feels like quite an exciting time," she said. "The KS3 curriculum has been very thoughtfully developed by the QCA. We are delighted."

Pupils are expected to be given an entitlement to 24 hours of cookery classes during secondary school - not necessarily by Jamie Oliver. But the Design and Technology Association is concerned that these classes will not be compulsory.

Key stage 3 review, pages 6 7 Leading article, page 26

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