Hectic year of change

4th January 2008 at 00:00
The biggest curriculum reforms in 20 years loom for schools in 2008.

Schools this week embarked on the busiest year of change since the introduction of the national curriculum in 1988.

But predictions that 2008 will be the "meltdown year", as the Government struggles to introduce a raft of reforms all at once, have yet to be proven right.

The next 12 months will see a new key stage 3 curriculum being introduced for Year 7 pupils, with the emphasis on helping children make connections between subjects, and the biggest changes to A-levels for eight years.

The Government's new diploma qualification, which has been billed as the world's most important education reform, will also be launched in selected schools and colleges from September.

The diplomas will include new functional skills qualifications in English, maths and ICT, which are also being trialled for introduction in GCSEs from 2010.

And teachers will have to start thinking about a reformed set of GCSEs, which are being introduced next year.

A briefing document on the 14-19 reforms, sent to higher education staff by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, said: "From autumn 2008, students will be learning different things, in different ways and be assessed differently."

The TES also understands that the Government will put all its 14-19 reforms together in a new strategy paper, to be published for consultation in the coming months.

The new diplomas, which are being introduced in five work-related subjects, have as yet remained relatively hitch-free, despite their complexity.

The A-level reforms - with most subjects being reduced from six modules to four and an A* grade introduced - raise the prospect of difficulties for exam boards in ensuring standards are maintained.

Changes are also occuring away from secondary education. Sir Jim Rose, former head of inspections at Ofsted, is conducting a review of primary education, while the Early Years Foundation Stage will become compulsory in September.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, welcomed the fact that the Government had managed to stagger some of the changes over the next three years.

He said: "It's not as bad as it looked it was going to be back in 2005, but it's still a full agenda. 2008 is going to be a busy year."

A sea change coming, page 8.

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