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The story so far: four decades of curriculum shifts

1967 Bridget Plowden's report, Children and their primary schools, advocates putting the child at the centre of education. It recommended a flexible curriculum, individualised learning, learning by discovery, the importance of play and the evaluation of progress.

1978 An HMI survey of 542 schools concludes that the curriculum is wide enough, but more able children should study it in greater depth rather than be stretched by introducing new subjects.

1988 National curriculum introduced comprising 10 subjects. National testing introduced. These measures signal a shift towards centralisation in education.

1992 The Three Wise Men - Robin Alexander, Jim Rose and Chris Woodhead - publish their report, ordered by John Major, the prime minister, into teaching methods and standards in primary schools. They talked of "highly questionable dogmas which have led to excessively complex classroom practices and have devalued the place of subjects in the curriculum".

1998 Ofsted review of primary education says the quality of teaching has risen in four years, but most schools can improve in literacy and numeracy.

1998 David Blunkett launches literacy and numeracy strategies following concerns over standards. Teachers says they fear the literacy hour will be unsuitable for the most able and those with special needs.

2003 Charles Clarke introduces the primary national strategy, extending to languages, PE and music the support given to literacy and numeracy.

2005 Commons education select committee orders an inquiry after finding the number of children entering secondary school with poor levels of literacy is "unacceptably high".

2005 Jim Rose, former director of Ofsted, concludes in his interim report for the select committee that synthetic phonics should be used to teach children to read.

2006 A new primary framework is published, intended to help teachers plan lessons and access resources more effectively. It also raises the bar in maths, suggesting that pupils learn their times-tables a year earlier.

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