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Michael Gove to unveil new curriculum for state schools

The new national curriculum for schools in England will be published today, including more advanced maths for five-year-olds, the teaching of evolution in primary schools, big changes in the history syllabus and a new focus on computer programming.

Teachers’ unions and academics have condemned many of the changes in previous versions of the revised curriculum and the “unrealistic” timescales for implementing it – it is meant to be done for autumn 2014.

The new framework sets out what children in England's state schools should be taught between the ages of five and 14.

It focused on the foundations for learning “the vital advances skills that universities and businesses desperately need”, education secretary Michael Gove said, including essay writing, problem-solving, mathematical modelling and computer programming.

Prime minister David Cameron promised a “revolution in education” to boost the economy.

Some have accused Gove of twisting the curriculum in line with his personal prejudices and opinions, including a bigger focus on chronology and ‘great lives’ in history. Many headteachers say politicians should not have such a big role in the precise details of what is taught.

Stephen Twigg, shadow education secretary, reiterated this criticism, saying: “Unlike previous versions of the national curriculum, which were drafted with a heavy involvement of teachers and school leaders, these proposals have been driven and closely directed by politicians without that professional input.”

Most secondary schools are now academies, however, which are not required to follow the state school curriculum.

Maths teaching is being made more rigorous in the new curriculum, and there is more emphasis on design, technology and innovation, including a focus on robotics and 3D printing, the BBC reported.

Conservative peer Baroness Pauline Perry, a former chief inspector of schools in England, told the Today programme that teachers would be “excited” by the freedom and creativity the new curriculum will allow, from local history projects to more science experiments.

Mary Bousted, leader of the ATL teachers' union, told the same programme: “[Michael Gove] shows a fundamental lack of understanding of how much planning is needed to bring in a totally new curriculum and new exams for children in all age groups at the same time.”

She added: “It will be a memory test and that is not what children and young people need for the 21st century when their lives and their work will require skills of knowledge acquisition, understanding and being able to implement the knowledge.”

(Library image: Crown Copyright)

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