The core values of British education are being thrashed out in closed meetings with teachers, local authority officials and Government curriculum advisers.
The new, slimmed-down curriculum for 2000 will have a new introduction spelling out its underlying philosophy, called "Values, aims and purposes".
The first draft, released at a London conference last week, says the curriculum should "develop pupils' integrity and autonomy and help them to be responsible and caring citizens in a just society".
The review, conducted by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, has two main objectives: to increase flexibility and to ensure pupils receive an adequate preparation for adult life.
The proposed introduction gives weight to many of the areas covered by the advisory groups set up by the Government last year - citizenship, environment, sustainable development, spiritual and moral education and personal, social and health education.
These themes are also brought into the programmes of study of individual subjects, with sustainable development and global citizenship to be introduced to all age groups across every topic in geography.
The national curriculum has been slimmed down to allow schools to concentrate on literacy and numeracy by cutting the compulsory content of history, geography, design and technology, art, music and physical education.
Many historical figures and events have been written out of the compulsory history curriculum while English and maths remain largely unchanged, although they have been aligned with literacy and numeracy strategies.
Use of information technology is to be strengthened across the curriculum and IT itself is one of the few subjects not to be cut back.
The first draft suggests options for increasing flexibility at key stage 4, from keeping the current number of statutory subjects to cutting it to a bare minimum.
Information alongside the orders will help teachers to plan for pupils to develop literacy, numeracy and key skills. At key stage 4 some or all of the key skills could be available as qualifications alongside GCSEs and GNVQs.
The QCA's informal consultation on the draft runs until Easter when David Blunkett, the Education and Employment Secretary, will consider the proposals.
Formal consultation is planned from April until August. The final version should be in schools from September onwards for implementation in September next year.