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Diane Hofkins on the raft of new curriculum documents

Advice on every subject in the national curriculum is flowing into primary schools.

Government advisers have pinpointed what they see as the key elements of each foundation subject, and printed them in a thin leaflet. This suggests ways for schools to slim down art, music, PE, history, geography and technology now the full programmes of study no longer have to be taught. Swimming is the only specific element to remain compulsory.

Cross-curricular work looks likely to make a come-back as schools try to increase their English and maths teaching without sacrificing other subjects.

For science and information technology, where the full curriculum is still in force, the Department for Education and Employment is sending detailed schemes of work to every school.

A joint letter from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and the DFEE stresses: "It is not compulsory for teachers to use them, nor will there be any onus on them to do so, for example through OFSTED inspections. They are, rather, a resource for teachers to use entirely as they see fit."

Further schemes are planned for history, geography and design and technology.

Fast on the heels of the National Literacy Strategy comes its numeracy counterpart. Schools can expect to receive a comprehensive teaching framework next spring, followed by a big box of teacher-training materials, for a September 1999 launch.

There are plans to appoint 300 numeracy consultants in England. Three days' training will be on offer for three teachers from every school with more intensive support for 60 per cent of schools. Maths co-ordinators will be released for five days a year for the three years of the project, to assist colleagues.

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