From culture to collective worship: how the latest government initiatives will affect schools

22nd February 2008 at 00:00

Five hours of culture a week

The good news is that not all five hours will have to take place in school time, nor will teachers be solely responsible for organising cultural trips to theatres and galleries.

Activities such as creative writing in English lessons, taking part in theatre and learning a musical instrument will all count towards the hours. Pupils could also have hands-on experience in film-making, radio and television.

The drive for more culture is made up of a pound;25 million Find Your Talent pilot and pound;110 million further investment in the existing Creative Partnerships scheme. The project will be overseen by a new quango, The Youth Culture Trust. The Department for Children, Schools and Families said the pilot should "work out the most effective way of doing it without adding an extra burden on schools".

A national programme of training for teachers and museum staff has been promised for 2008-09, giving some teachers the chance to do a five-day placement in a museum.

Five hours of sport a week

Physical education is already a compulsory national curriculum subject. The Government says 80 per cent of schools already manage the recommended two hours a week.

Gordon Brown has said he hopes to reach the ambitious goal of a further three hours outside the curriculum through "a united team effort" of schools, parents, volunteers, coaches and the sporting world.

Happiness classes

This refers to the social and emotional aspects of the learning programme, which is already up and running in 60 per cent of primary schools and is being rolled out to secondaries.

Finance and debt lessons

Pupils will be taught financial life skills through functional maths and in personal, social and health education, which is a "highly recommended" but non-statutory subject for key stage 2.

Cooking lessons by 2011

This is part of the new key stage 3 curriculum and applies to all 11- to 14-year-olds. As a compulsory curriculum entitlement, schools will have a duty to offer it, but pupils will not be compelled to do it.

Lessons in climate change

There is a huge Government drive to get schools to teach about climate change, and special packs have been sent out to all schools to help. Schools are expected to use copies of the film The Inconvenient Truth, directed by Al Gore, to prompt debate about the issues.

As part of the new key stage 3 curriculum, environmental change and sustainability will be given a "much stronger focus" throughout the curriculum and in geography lessons.

Daily act of worship

Headteachers and governors of maintained schools are responsible for arranging a daily act of collective worship "of a broadly Christian character". However, half of this can be devoted to "other faiths and interests".

If the Christian element is deemed inappropriate due to pupils' backgrounds, heads can apply to the local Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE) to have this requirement lifted. Ofsted's annual report for 2002-03 found that 80 per cent of secondaries did not fulfil the requirements.

Religious education

This is a statutory subject, which should be taken by all pupils. The entire curriculum is decided at a local level by SACRE, and parents have the right to withdraw their children from it.

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