Subject associations want to know where they stand after Rose review

12th June 2009 at 01:00

Maths, science and technology organisations are calling for more clarity on the status of their subjects in the new primary curriculum.

Sir Jim Rose, the former head of primary education at Ofsted, has proposed that the curriculum should be restructured into six areas of learning: literacy, numeracy, information technology and personal development form the new core.

Currently, there are 11 statutory subjects, with English, maths and science forming the core and others described as foundation subjects.

But Laurie Jacques, director for policy and quality at the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics, said: "There is a perceived shift away from mathematics to 'numeracy', which is defined as part of the new core.

"Our concern is to make sure teachers are clear about what the curriculum distinction is between numeracy and mathematics.

"Numeracy is about proficiency with numbers and measures; mathematics is a broader area which encompasses the way we think about a problem."

Last week, the science, technology, engineering and maths advisory forum held a conference in Manchester to address what it described as misconceptions about the changes. The forum argues that the creation of an area of learning called scientific and technological understanding does not mean science has been downgraded.

Similarly, a leaflet from the Design and Technology Association points out: "Scientific and technological understanding is positive for children's learning in design and technology but not perfect, and we will be working hard to iron out the imperfections between now and the end of the consultation."

Plans to shake up the curriculum have prompted hundreds of responses. A consultation in London last month was attended by 200 people, and a further event in Birmingham on June 30 is already "pretty full", according to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. The authority has held three focus groups with some 100 attendees. It has 30 more timetabled.

Four consultations are running in tandem. As well as the changes to the primary curriculum, the QCA is seeking views on personal, social, health and economic education across primary and secondary phases, subject-level descriptions and updated non-statutory advice on religious education. The closing date for them all is July 24.

The new curriculum is to be introduced in 2011. Publishers are keen to know early what the changes are so they can prepare textbooks and materials. They are also concerned about how much guidance the Government will produce.

When synthetic phonics became compulsory in 2007, the Government published a 207-page six-phase teaching programme and sent five free copies to each school. Publishers claimed the move hit their sales and questioned whether providing teaching materials was an area for government.

In 2007, the BBC Trust suspended the Pounds 150 million digital project BBC Jam, which provided free online materials. Publishers complained that sales were affected by the service, and threats of legal action contributed to the decision.


- Curriculum organised in three parts: aims, six areas of learning, essentials for learning and life.

- Six areas of learning (understanding): the arts; maths; history, geography and social; English, communication and languages; science and technology; physical development, health and wellbeing.

- Religious education will remain a separate subject.

- The essentials for learning and life are: literacy, numeracy, ICT, learning and thinking skills, personal and emotional skills and social skills.

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