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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 October 2005, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
English 'must reflect technology'
Children reading
Books and literature still occupy an important place in the curriculum
English in schools must adapt to reflect the use of text messaging and communication via new technologies, a report says.

Research by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority says new skills are needed to keep pace with change.

It says schools should take advantage of the range of texts now available to teach the language, including online.

The recommendations come in a report which examined the future of the major curriculum subjects.

'Hard choices'

"Older forms, such as the book, are not defunct," the report says, "but readers need to acquire new literacy skills."

"On-screen texts are increasingly multi-media and non-linear.

"This will lead to some hard choices about what should be the focus of classroom teaching."

The report also said English needed to take account of the higher profile of the oral language in society. Speaking and listening skills are vital at work and should no longer be given second place.

It also emphasised the need for access to creative texts and to learn about literary heritage.

The report - called "Futures - meeting the challenge" - said social change, including the impact of technology and an increasingly global dimension to life and work, meant the curriculum needed to adapt to keep up.

With regard to the future of science teaching, the report said a shift was needed away from knowledge-based culture towards practical skills application.

Skills which benefit the whole curriculum and links to other subjects should be considered, the report said.

And enthusiastic teachers were vital to communicate skills and inspire learners, it added.

Students could sometimes struggle to recognise the relevance of modern foreign languages to other subjects or their future career, the report states.

And more importance should be placed on ensuring lessons "better reflected the pluri-lingual nature of our society", it said.


The document looked at art and design, business education, citizenship, design and technology, English, geography, history, information and communication technology, maths, modern foreign languages, music, personal, social and health education, physical education, religious education and science.

The curriculum should be driven by aims, give "substantial weight to personal, social and emotional education," and value knowledge which falls outside traditional subject boundaries.

The National Curriculum applies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Ken Boston, QCA chief executive, said: "Today's curriculum has many enduring values and purposes.

"However, the curriculum must respond to the needs of contemporary life and work if it is to provide a modern, world-class education."

"The QCA futures programme will ensure curriculum developments are informed by the latest thinking within subject communities, and take on board the views of students, parents, teachers and employers."

The QCA held meetings with subject representatives to consider how the curriculum might need to change before publishing its recommendations.

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