Primaries told not to abandon plans for new curriculum despite bill debacle

23rd April 2010 at 01:00
Teachers thrown into confusion in pre-election upheaval, but schools are advised to press ahead with review of what they teach

Primary schools have been told not to abandon their plans for a new primary curriculum following the Government's failure to get the radical overhaul through Parliament.

Thousands of primaries were thrown into confusion after the planned changes to the curriculum were dropped from the Children, Schools and Families Bill at the last minute.

The new curriculum, inspired by the Rose review, would have replaced 13 subjects with six areas of learning and introduced compulsory language learning in key stage 2 from September 2011.

But schools, which have spent months preparing for the changes, should not scrap their plans during the general election campaign, according to the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA).

Details of the plans remain on the agency's website, with no hint that they are in limbo.

"Until we have got a general election result, we all need to wait and see," a QCDA spokesman said.

Schools can continue to review what they teach, although the new curriculum will need legislation for it to come into force, he added.

Headteachers have been flooding The Key, an advice service for school leaders, for help on what to do about the curriculum, it emerged this week.

Some had already booked consultants to run training days on the changes.

Fergal Roche, The Key's managing director, said: "We've noticed a big increase in calls since the Children, Schools and Families Bill was passed without including the new primary curriculum. Our members appear to be concerned about what will happen next.

"Many have already started to plan how they will introduce the new approaches. The official advice we have received from QCDA is that schools should consider putting plans for the new curriculum on hold until after the election when the situation will become clearer."

The new curriculum and a raft of other school reforms were dropped from the bill when the election was called.

Opposition MPs refused to let them go through on the nod as the Government tried to pass its outstanding legislation in the last days of this Parliament.

The Conservatives had long vowed to replace the primary curriculum with their own changes.

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the QCDA advice sounded like common sense.

But he added: "It also means, 'Let's wait until a government tells us what to teach in our schools again.' We urge schools to look at their curriculum critically in the light of Rose and Cambridge reviews and ensure that there is liveliness and excitement to what they teach that will enthuse pupils."

The QCDA spokesman added: "Teachers should carry on delivering the curriculum as normal. A new curriculum requires legislation and because of this a new bill would need to be introduced.

"Schools have a duty to meet the current statutory requirements and are free within those requirements to develop the curriculum as they see fit."

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