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A taste of things to come

Diane Hofkins looks at the latest initiatives as the revised national curriculum comes into force.

Primary teachers returning to school this term are facing another raft of changes to their working lives, and more new initiatives. Here is what to expect.

Literacy It looks like 2000-2001 is going to be the year of writing. First of all, the 200-page guide, Grammar for Writing, is being sent to all junior class teachers, and there will be training for all teachers of Year 5 (see pages 15-16).

Writing materials are in development for infant teachers, too, and should be ready for the spring term. More than 370 headteacher conferences are being organised this autumn - covering every local authority - to help heads assess progress, look ahead and develop strategies for leading schools' literacy programmes, with a particular focus on writing.

The national literacy strategy is also piloting an intervention scheme for Year 1 to spot and help struggling readers. It is being tried out in 38 local authorities, and there is special training for teachers and teaching assistants.

The Government hopes such schemes will do away with the need for "catch up" programmes later, but in the meantime the NLS is developing materials to help children in Years 5 and 6 who have fallen behind.

Numeracy As the national numeracy strategy enters its second year, more schools will benefit from the five-day intensive training course in teaching maths. A new "catch up" programme for Year 5 pupils will mean new materials, a day's training or all teachers of that age group and, for a third of schools, extra cash to help implement the scheme. Towards the end of the autumn term, all schools will get a training pack about using information and communications technology to support primary maths. One-day conferences for all heads are planned for next summer.

Curriculum 2000 The revised national curriculum comes into force this term. One key change is the reinstatement of detailed teaching programmes for the six foundation subjects, after their two-year suspension to allow schools to concentrate on English and maths. But the programmes of study will be more flexible than in the past, allowing schools to make more use of local resources and tailor teaching to their pupils and communities.

Teachers will assess children's attainment in art, music and physical education according to the eight-level scale, rather than the end of key stage descriptions. This change is meant to improve progression and continuity in these subjects.

Optional schemes of work for art and design, geography, history, ICT, design technology, music, science and religious education, which have been sent to schools, are also available on the web at

Foundation stage This distinct stage for children aged three to five takes effect this term and means that Reception children are no longer part of key stage 1 of the national curriculum. Teachers are expected to focus on six areas of learning, with personal, social and emotional learning seen as especially important.

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