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Teachers save primary drama;Curriculum 2000

DRAMA and other key parts of primary English will be protected by law after teachers protested they were being usurped by the National Literacy Strategy.

The new curriculum for 2000 will ensure that aspects of English not covered by the literacy framework will survive into the 21st century.

Teachers had been concerned that speaking and listening and drama had been neglected in the push to meet demanding targets for reading and writing.

The latest draft of the new curriculum currently being considered by Education Secretary David Blunkett has broadened primary English after concerns were expressed by headteachers, subject organisations and academics.

However in maths, the numeracy strategy and new curriculum have been designed in tandem. The proposed primary maths curriculum focuses on mental arithmetic and abolishes the compulsory use of calculators for five, six and seven-year-olds.

Drama will play a much more prominent role in the proposed English curriculum. At present it is mentioned in the curriculum Orders, but it will be given a higher profile and be one of four compulsory skills for all five to 16-year-olds.

Traditional grammar teaching in primary schools is also reinforced in the draft. Nouns, verbs, adjectives and pronouns were removed from the compulsory key stage 2 curriculum in the first version but have made a comeback in the second after teachers expressed concerns.

QCA senior English officer Sue Horner told an English conference last week that the literacy strategy had affected the wider curriculum. She said: "I am concerned that the teaching of speaking and listening has suffered. But we must draw a distinction between the literacy hour and the wider literacy framework which covers reading and writing in the national curriculum."

Primary history is thought to have survived the second draft relatively unscathed. Although all historical figures and events were cut in the first draft, few further reductions were made in the second version. Meanwhile, in geography the study of weather has been cut at key stage 2 (see story top left).

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