Page last updated at 11:29 GMT, Wednesday, 24 September 2008 12:29 UK

Call for skills lessons in school

Fewer traditional subjects and more lifestyle skills are called for

Primary school pupils in England should study fewer formal subjects to allow more time for their personal and social development, it has been suggested.

In seminars held as part of a review of England's primary curriculum, teachers, governors, parents and pupils said "concepts and skills" were important.

They called for a focus on lifestyle lessons covering issues such as drugs, sex, healthy diets and thinking skills.

Sixty seminars held between January and April were attended by 1,500 people.

The feedback also showed parents wanted primary schools to assess pupils on their personal development and report back to them.

'Evidence to consider'

Sir Jim Rose, a former head of the schools' watchdog, Ofsted, was charged by the government in January with reviewing the primary curriculum in England. He is due to report back to ministers later this year.

Removing rigour from the primary curriculum would increase the inequality gap between less well-off pupils and the rest
Nick Gibb, shadow schools minister

A spokeswoman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) said: "This is a summary of stakeholders' views, not the views of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority or the DCSF, and has been submitted to Sir Jim Rose's review as evidence to consider."

John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers, said personal development had been "shamefully neglected" in recent years, with the pressure of meeting targets.

"We are all social beings and steps to that need to learned at home and in school," he said.

Shadow schools minister Nick Gibb said: "If the primary curriculum is watered down so lessons on lifestyle are given the same status as traditional subjects, it is the most disadvantaged children who will be worst affected.

"Children are not able to personally develop and succeed in the future if they don't have a grasp of basic subjects such as maths and English early on in primary school.

"Removing rigour from the primary curriculum would increase the inequality gap between less well-off pupils and the rest."

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