The new primary curriculum from this September requires schools to place a sharper focus on literacy and numeracy. Few teachers would disagree with this, but there are understandable concerns about the implications of the proposed changes.
There seem to be misconceptions about how the new curriculum will affect the six foundation subjects of art, design and technology, geography, history, music and physical education. For instance, I have heard people suggest that schools can choose which ones they teach. So what are the facts?
* It remains a statutory requirement to teach a broad and balanced curriculum that includes the six foundation subjects * Schools will no longer be required to teach the complete programmes of study in the six foundation subjects * Office for Standards in Education inspections will reflect the new arrangements.
In the summer term schools will receive guidance from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority on the curriculum for the two-year period from September 1998. This will identify the key aspects of each foundation subject and will suggest ways of reviewing and adapting existing schemes of work. Some schools may wish to free more time for literacy and numeracy; some may feel they already have sufficient time allocation but may take the opportunity to follow QCA's advice on reducing the amount of content covered in some subjects.
So, what does all this mean for design and technology? Well the good news is that for schools that have developed schemes of work that cover the existing programmes of study, little change will be required.
For the moment primary design and technology co-ordinators should wait for the official advice from QCA and then:
* Review existing planning and check that it covers the key aspects identified by QCA * Make any adjustments necessary - for example, release more curriculum time by reducing the number of units of work taught across a key stage * Make the most of opportunities where there is an overlap in the content of design and technology and other subjects * Highlight the contribution that design and technology can make to the development of literacy and numeracy by providing a real context, for example, calculating the quantities required when adapting a recipe * Support colleagues in developing their subject knowledge as this is a key factor in raising standards.
Schools can obtain advice from their local education authority advisory team or from the Design and Technology Association. DATA has produced a number of publications to support primary design and technology. Contact DATA on 01789 470007.
Julie Mantell is an independent consultant and a member of DATA's primary advisory group