What will be on offer in the changed curriculum
Pupils should be encouraged to explore how classic novels, including George Orwell's 1984 and the work of Charles Dickens, continue to influence modern culture and thinking, according to the new curriculum. Key stage 3 children could discuss the use of phrases such as "Big Brother", "Room 101" and Orwellian terms such as "double-think", while Dickens offers plenty of scope for discussions on social justice. The new programme of study also introduces modern writers, including Philip Pullman, Michael Rosen and Anthony Horowitz.
Content has been cut, with the knowledge to be taught now listed under three categories: number and algebra, geometry and measures, and statistics, covering a total of 19 topics. As well as mastering the subject's content, pupils are, for example, supposed to be able to distinguish between evidence and proof and to engage in mathematical discussions. However, some teachers have said that, whatever the curriculum says, the national strategies and the content of tests will continue to drive teaching.
In February, The TES reported how the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Institute of Physics were worried that detailed topics would be dropped from the new key stage 3 curriculum. But these concerns appear to have fallen on deaf ears, as the current 18-page programme of study has been cut to 12. The QCA's report on its consultation said most teachers welcomed this.
"Geography inspires pupils to become global citizens," says the new key stage 3 curriculum. The seven key concepts to be studied include sustainable development (including climate change) and cultural understanding and diversity, suggesting some overlap with citizenship. Field trips also feature strongly, and pupils are supposed to use new technology, including digital cameras
Chronological understanding is regarded as essential, as is exploring religious, ethnic and cultural diversity. There should be a focus on the British Empire and its impact both on Britain and its former colonies. The First and Second World War, the Holocaust and other genocides should also be studied. Children should be given a chance to study aspects of their personal, family or local history, and, where possible, to visit museums and galleries.
Schools are no longer required to teach an EU language and can offer students any major or world language or languages from Arabic to Mandarin. Children should get the chance to talk to native speakers where possible, individually and in groups.
Although billed by ministers as encouraging pupils to develop a broad understanding of "shared British values", the phrase "British values" does not feature in the new citizenship curriculum. Instead, pupils are to discuss universal concepts such as democracy and justice, rights and activism, or "taking informed and responsible action". Children will also discuss the UK's varying national, regional, religious and ethnic identities. But many teachers, said the QCA's report on its consultation, are concerned that they are now being asked to cover too much ground.
The subject is divided into two, with personal, social and health education covered in a "personal wellbeing" programme of study and "economic wellbeing and financial capability" making its debut. The latter will see key stage 3 pupils learning about financial products, how to manage their money, and being taught enterprise and how to manage risk.
Design and technology
Children are to be offered the chance to study practical cookery, but only in schools which decide to offer it; they can opt to teach textiles instead. This choice comes despite a broad consensus in the consultation that cookery should be compulsory. Ministers were, apparently, concerned that some schools lacked the kitchen facilities to do this. Pupils must study resistant materials and systems and control.
Religious Education (national guidelines
RE lessons should include the study of Christianity and at least two other major religions. Students should investigate a local religious community, where appropriate, and also a secular world view based on a philosophy such as humanism.
In art and design, pupils should learn to appreciate images and artefacts across time and cultures, while in music they are expected to learn composing skills, including writing songs and improvising. Where possible, they should also listen to live performances. In PE, the Government unsurprisingly wants them to learn about the value of healthy, active lifestyles. In ICT, pupils will have to explore the way computers are changing our lives alongside developing their screen skills.