Life in modern Britain

Millions of school children have begun the new school year with a ‘tough’ new national curriculum.
The curriculum is being implemented for most year groups simultaneously.
Five-year-olds will learn fractions and computer coding, while those in early secondary school will have to study at least two Shakespeare plays.
A spokesman said the government wanted “all children to learn the core knowledge in key subjects – the ones universities and employers value the most”.
School Reform Minister Nick Gibb, said: “Millions of pupils returning to the classroom this term are being taught a forward-thinking, knowledge-rich national curriculum that will give them the knowledge and skills to succeed in modern Britain”.
“The programmes of study are a key part of the government’s plan for education and long-term economic objective.
“They embody high expectations and are designed to raise standards for children aged 5 to 16, especially the poorest. It will provide a broad and balanced education ensuring all pupils gain core knowledge across a range of key subjects so that they get the best start in life.
“The curriculum combines the best elements of the world’s most successful school systems, including Hong Kong, Massachusetts, Singapore and Finland, with some of the most impressive practice from schools in England.
“With a strong focus on getting the basic skills right in primary school, it has been deliberately designed to ensure England has the most productive, most creative and best educated young people of any nation.
“It ensures a population with the knowledge and skills not just to secure good-quality employment and success in life, but also to help us compete and win in the global race.
“The new curriculum is also far less prescriptive and is about half the size of its predecessor, allowing teachers to concentrate on what they do best – teach – rather than being burdened by endlessly reading the document.”
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, said teachers had worked hard to prepare for the new curriculum over the past year.
He said he was confident they would cope with its implementation but he warned there could be some difficulties with maths, where more advanced topics are to be taught at a younger age.
“One of the mistakes in the implementation of the curriculum is that it’s all being implemented at once,” he said.
“In maths you need to learn the early concepts before you learn the later concepts, so there is a problem that there will be children who have not learned the earlier concepts before being expected to learn the more demanding ones.”
Mr Hobby warned that there would have to be “a lot of cramming in maths this year” as whole classes are made to catch up with the new demands.

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