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Primary School Curriculum

Volume 516: debated on Monday 11 October 2010

9. What plans he has for the future of the primary school curriculum; and if he will make a statement. (16455)

We have made clear our intention to review the national curriculum at both primary and secondary levels, to restore it to its original purpose—a core national entitlement organised around subject disciplines. We want to arrive at a simple core, informed by the best international practice, that will provide a minimum entitlement for pupils. We will announce more details about our plans later in the year.

I thank the Minister for his reply. Head teachers in my constituency are concerned that Government have still not come forward with their proposals for replacing the primary school curriculum, and that the delay is preventing them from properly planning for the future. Will he reassure the House that the Government’s plans will be published in time for primary school heads to get the staff, timetables and resources that they need to start the next financial year?

Yes, primary schools should continue with the current primary curriculum. The details and timings will be announced later in the year, but I assure the hon. Lady that there will be plenty of lead time available to schools to implement the new curriculum. We do not want what the previous Government had, which was “initiativitis”. Schools received new initiatives every two weeks, and lever arch files full of prescriptive instructions about how to teach were disseminated to all our schools.

Will the Minister comment on the fact that many primary schools appear to be teaching multiple methods for basic mathematical problems, which has been set out through the national strategies, rather than achieving fluency in key methods, which enables those pupils to go on and achieve and where countries such as Flanders and Finland have proved so successful?

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for her passion about the way maths is taught in our schools. Of course, how children are taught is a pedagogical matter, which should be left to the professionalism of teachers, but what is taught and when will be matters for the national curriculum review.