Plan your route;Briefing

26th June 1998 at 01:00
Diana Hinds on mapping out an autumn timetable.

To find up to ten hours a week for increased literacy and numeracy teaching, schools are allowed to prune their foundation subject teaching, as long as they are still providing a "broad and balanced" curriculum.

Guidance from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has been so long delayed as to make it too late for many schools. Birmingham schools were lucky that their local authority issued its own advice after Easter. Here's how two of them are planning their timetables: Hawthorn school, Kingstanding

Last December, the school developed a new system, which will accommodate the literacy and numeracy hours that will run from September.

Under the system, devised in response to the Dearing Review which slimmed the national curriculum in 1995, the school apportions time for each subject differently for each two-year age group, according to the development of children's learning. English has 35 per cent of lesson time in Years 1 and 2, 30 per cent in Years 3 and 4, and 27.5 per cent in Years 5 and 6, when it is more integrated with other subjects.

History and geography increase from 2.5 per cent - about half an hour a week - for five to seven-year-olds, to 4.5 per cent for nine to 11s, and music from 2.5 per cent in Years 1 and 2 to 5 per cent in the older age groups. Having a music specialist in the school, headteacher Ian Cassidy admits, makes it easier to give more time to the subject.

The new system includes more "light-touch", or outline teaching in some foundation areas; for instance, in design and technology, it might be sufficient to look at aspects of a process, rather than carrying out the whole process, he says. But nothing is set in stone - planning is an on-going process.

Rookery junior school, Handsworth

Rookery began its own version of the literacy hour when Tracy Stone took over as head last September, but this autumn will see considerable changes in timetabling.

English has been allocated two hours per week in addition to the literacy hour, giving it 30 per cent of teaching time throughout the school, compared with 22 per cent for maths and 13 per cent for science.

Personal and social education, championed by Tracy Stone, increases from half-an-hour a week to one hour. Geography and history stay the same, with 4 per cent each of teaching time, but with less content and more depth. For instance, a project on the ancient Greeks might focus sharply on archaeology only.

Rookery is not strong in music, prompting Tracy Stone to cut it from one hour a week to half an hour. But she plans termly sessions with visiting musicians and artists, to give children a "quality" experience in the arts.

Swimming will be taught in Years 3 and 4, but not Years 5 and 6, and IT will be incorporated into other subjects. Generally, there will be more "block" teaching, to give depth rather than a weekly smattering of every subject.

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