Core subjects

A maths lesson in a primary school

The draft National Curriculum for English, Maths and Science was published last year. February saw the release of updated versions of these and the start of the consultation period. Also for the first time, proposed guidelines for the other National Curriculum subjects were made public.

All subjects in the current National Curriculum remain, although ICT has been renamed 'computing' to reflect the greater emphasis on practical programming skills, and languages are now to be compulsory at Key Stage 2.

The first draft of the English National Curriculum made it clear that phonics is the approach to teaching reading, and hugely increased the emphasis on grammar, spelling and punctuation.

There are not many significant differences in the revised draft, although there are some subtle changes of emphasis. There is, for example, a greater focus on comprehension, and more continuity between the year groups, recognising that the essential skills remain the same, but need to be applied to increasingly challenging texts. There's also more non-fiction (now required at Year 1), and generally more talk of 'texts' rather than 'books' or 'stories'.

The emphasis on an earlier understanding of key maths skills, that could be seen in the first draft, remains. Many skills and concepts will need to be taught one, two or even three years earlier than is currently the case. One or two concepts that were in the first draft (eg. binary) have been quietly dropped, but the overall impression of a significantly more challenging curriculum remains. The emphasis on efficient written methods of calculation is still there, though the need to use column addition and subtraction has moved from Year 2 to Year 3.
The biggest change from the first draft is that there is a much greater emphasis on problem solving.

There have been some changes to the science national curriculum since the first draft, mainly around the way in which 'working scientifically' is treated. Following strong criticism that the knowledge-based approach had gone too far in science, the balance between fact-based objectives (identify and name...) and enquiry-style objectives (observe and describe...) is more even. The shift in emphasis away from physics and towards biology that could be seen in the first draft remains, but the degree of specification (eg. of which plants, trees and animals need to be named and identified) has reduced.


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Last updated: about 3 years ago