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More breadth and balance needed

Government intervention in primary education over the past two decades has led to a decline in standards of pupils' experience of school and attainment, according to research by Manchester Metropolitan and Cambridge universities.

The national curriculum and control over teaching methods and testing has driven up test scores, but at the expense of a broad and balanced curriculum, and fewer opportunities for projects such as creating costumes for a parade.

However, the researchers said teachers had gained a sense of enhanced professionalism because of a need for more collaborative lesson planning and management, though this was off-set by increased work.

There was particular concern about the decrease in time devoted to science in favour of literacy and numeracy. The study also found "the quality of teacher-pupil interaction has been negatively influenced by the pedagogy of the national strategies".

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