The existing primary curriculum for England in mathematics and science, say the authors of the new curriculum, focuses insufficiently on key elements of knowledge and is not as demanding as in other countries.
In mathematics there is an emphasis on greater rigour, in particular arithmetic, and promoting efficient written methods of long multiplication and division. There is to be more demanding content in fractions, decimals and percentages. As widely reported, the removal of calculator and other ICT devices is encouraged as strong written and mental strategies should be developed.
The proposed programmes of study for science are also more ambitious, with a stronger focus on the importance of scientific knowledge and a greater emphasis on the core scientific concepts underpinning pupils' understanding. The mathematical aspects of science are to be strengthened and for the first time primary pupils will be taught about evolution and inheritance. In Year 6 Pupils might study Charles Darwin's work on evolution and species.
The proposed English programmes of study require higher standards of literacy. Pupils are expected to develop a stronger command of the written and spoken word. Through the strengthening of the teaching of phonics more pupils should read fluently. Word lists are included for Key Stage 2, with the expected focus on Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation.
The retention of the current subject composition of the National Curriculum is accompanied by the addition of foreign languages at Key Stage 2. The languages mentioned are: French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish, Latin or Ancient Greek! There is an intention to make the study of a foreign language compulsory at Key Stage 2. This is to enable schools to be more ambitious about teaching language in secondary school.
The replacement of the current ICT curriculum encompasses a new computing curriculum with a much greater emphasis on practical programming skills. Pupils in Key Stage 1 are to be taught what algorithms are, how they are used in digital devices, and that programmes execute by following a sequence of instructions. Pupils in Key Stage 2 are encouraged to design and write programs that accomplish specific goals, as well as use logical reasoning to explain how a simple algorithm work. There is also a responsible emphasis on online safety and responsibility.
History - At Key Stage 1, pupils are to learn about the lives of significant individuals in Britain's past - scientists such as Isaac Newton or Michael Faraday, reformers such as Elizabeth Fry or William Wilberforce, medical pioneers such as William Harvey or Florence Nightingale, or creative geniuses such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel or Christina Rossetti.
The Key Stage 2 history curriculum is expanded to include: early Britons and settlers; relations between England, Wales, Scotland and France; the Renaissance in England; and the Glorious Revolution, constitutional monarchy and the Union of the Parliaments. World War 1 and 2 are only specified at Key Stage 3 while Remembrance Day is not mentioned at all.
All state schools are also required to make provision for a daily act of collective worship and must teach religious education to pupils at every key stage and sex education to pupils in secondary education.
All schools should make provision for personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), drawing on good practice. Schools are also free to include other subjects or topics of their choice in planning and designing their own programme of education.
National curriculum: Primary reform
Questions unanswered on the evening have now been responded to, and can be found here