Every school in the country is to be invited to "help set the agenda" for the next national curriculum review.
By this time next week schools should have received a Qualifications and Curriculum Authority questionnaire seeking heads' and teachers' views on the current curriculum.
Chris Jones, head of the QCA national curriculum review division, insisted this is not "old-style consultation, of the type which pays lip service to opinion after the agenda has already been set." He said: "It's an absolutely genuine exercise in collaboration. There are no proposals on the table as yet. This is a real opportunity to influence."
The QCA does not expect every school to respond but promises: "Every reply will be read and every reply will find its way into the data."
Rowie Shaw, director of professional services at the National Association of Head Teachers said she welcomed the offer: "We're really pleased, especially as this seems to be as open as possible. The questionnaire doesn't have any leading questions which beg certain answers. It's a good start to the review process we were promised and I hope it continues in the same vein."
The questionnaire asks the same two questions for each key stage - "What do you think are the main aims?" and "What are your priorities?". Chris Jones said: "We see this kind of openness as a clear break with the past. Hopefully, it'll mean we get a better final result and teachers will feel more ownership. I suppose the other side of the deal is that the Government will expect teachers to be more signed up to them. I think that's fair enough if they've gone to the trouble of brokering any changes."
However, Mr Jones confirmed that major curriculum changes are very unlikely in the short term.
The NAHT has criticised the short timescale in which schools are expected to respond. The closing date for returned questionnaires is December 1.
Rowie Shaw said: "Most of them will be dropping through the letterbox as staff go away for half term. I think most heads would have liked longer to gather their teaching staff's views. But at least we've been asked and that's the important thing."