Have you noticed?

16th October 1998 at 01:00
The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's booklet Maintaining Breadth and Balance is now in schools.

It is a brave attempt to convince primary teachers that the slimming-down of the curriculum to concentrate on literacy and numeracy does not mean that all the in-service training, detailed planning and acquisition of resources for the foundation subjects was a complete waste of time.

We are told that if, by any chance, having allocated the time for literacy, numeracy, science, information technology and religion, we find we have less time than we used to for other subjects, we can modify our curriculum plans by prioritising, combining or reducing.

In the spirit of turning every threat into an opportunity, "reducing" is said to offer "new possibilities to focus on key aspects...thus avoiding excessive breadth and superficialteaching". Clearly, excessive breadth must be avoided at all costs, as, presumably, must over-balancing.

The booklet picks through the curriculum offering examples of the three different approaches to slimming down for every stage and subject. Under "reducing" for key stage 2 PE it suggests "omit outdoor and adventurous activities". At key stage 1, we may omit "swinging actions using apparatus". That should do it.

As a lay governor I find this advice over-prescriptive and patronising. How must teachers feel?

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