Primaries combine subjects to save time
Bob Henney, head of Monega Primary School in Newham, east London, said: "We have always maintained a topic-based approach, otherwise you couldn't possibly fit everything in.
"You have to be creative about how you put the curriculum together, otherwise pupils just get bored."
Primary schools are expected to tackle obesity and fit in trips to museums as well as concentrating on literacy, numeracy and science for national tests.
A TES survey last year also revealed that four out of five primaries were abandoning traditional subject teaching and reintroducing "themed" lessons, which were popular in the 1970s and 1980s.
A Qualifications and Curriculum Authority survey found that the average primary school spent about 10 hours a week coaching pupils in the four months prior to key stage 2 tests.
And researchers from Manchester University found that junior children in 2006 spent almost half their week in English and maths lessons, and two hours on science, which left only an hour for each other subject.
They also found that the focus was shifting away from teaching traditional subjects separately towards a more combined approach in order to cover all aspects of the curriculum. English, they discovered, was being combined with other subjects, such as history, for four-fifths of the time.
Topic teaching fell out of favour with the introduction of the national curriculum in 1988. But the tide was already beginning to turn by 2002, when the National Union of Teachers said targets and tests were squeezing out art, music and drama.