Primary schools ready for changes;Curriculum 2000

The primary curriculum has seen the most radical rewrite in preparation for September 2000 when schools will have to reintroduce the full range of subjects, writes Sarah Cassidy.

The literacy and numeracy strategies have been put at the heart of the new English and maths programmes of study. The new documents stress that schools which implement both strategies will be fulfilling their statutory duty to deliver the maths and much of the English curriculum.

However, this new focus is expected to have little impact on primaries which will have been running both strategies for at least a year by the time the regulations are introduced.

Meanwhile, all non-core programmes of study have been slimmed down and made more flexible to try to create more time for literacy and numeracy.

Primaries will also be expected to cover more citizenship and personal, social and health education from September 2000. But the new lessons are expected to cause minimal disruption as most schools have already adopted most of the proposals - which take the form of non-statutory lists of what children should know and be able to do by the end of each key stage.

What could cause more upheaval for many schools is the reintroduction of the full range of subjects in September 2000.

Art, music, PE, design and technology, history and geography must be covered in full when the light-touch system ends next year.

Primaries had been allowed to devise their own curriculum for non-core subjects for two years to allow teachers to get used to the literacy and numeracy hours.

The six foundation subjects have still had to be taught but the way they have been covered is, currently, up to teachers. Some schools could find the curriculum much more crowded from September 2000 if they have dropped topics which become compulsory under the new curriculum.

From September next year, inspectors will once again assess primaries on how they cover the whole national curriculum.

The slimming down of programmes of study has cut primary history and geography content by about one third. Fewer localities will have to be studied and seven to 11-year-olds will no longer have to be taught about weather as a separate topic.

The core subjects of English, maths and science remain practically unchanged to prevent disruption to the key stage tests. Investigative science has been strengthened after concerns that pupils were offered a limited range of experiments. Meanwhile, contemporary science and the subject's importance in everyday life is to have more prominence.

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