Page last updated at 11:26 GMT, Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Pupils 'should study Twitter'

Twitter page
Pupils could have more opportunity to use internet sites like Twitter

Primary school pupils should learn how to blog and use internet sites like Twitter and Wikipedia and spend less time studying history, it is claimed.

A review of the primary school curriculum in England will be published in a final report next month.

But the Guardian newspaper says draft copies it has seen shows pupils will no longer have to study the Victorian period or the Second World War.

Ministers said British history would always be a core part of education.

The review of the primary school curriculum was commissioned by Schools Secretary Ed Balls last year and is being drawn up by Sir Jim Rose, former chief of England's schools watchdog, Ofsted.

The Guardian said the draft review requires primary school children to be familiar with blogging, podcasts, Wikipedia and Twitter as sources of information and forms of communication.

They must gain "fluency" in handwriting and keyboard skills, and learn how to use a spellchecker alongside how to spell, the article said.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
The government says history will still be studied

Every child would learn two key periods of British history but it would be up to the school to decide which ones.

While schools would still be able to opt to teach Victorian history or the Second World War, they would not be required to, the Guardian said.

Flexible timetable

In an interim report published in December, Sir Jim said primary age children needed a greater understanding of information technology.

He also said he wanted to create a more flexible, less "overloaded" timetable.

His interim review suggested there could be six broader "areas of learning", rather than up to 14 individual subjects, such as history, geography and science.

The proposals suggested that "key ideas" might overlap different subjects - for example, the way that learning about human settlements could teach about both history and geography.

understanding English, communication and languages
mathematical understanding
scientific and technological understanding
human, social and environmental understanding
understanding physical health and well-being
understanding the arts and design

He also said the level of lessons in information, communication and technology (ICT) currently taught in secondary schools should now be taught to primary-age pupils.

Technological advances were driving a pace of change that would have been "unimaginable" when the national curriculum was created 20 years ago, he added.

Commenting on the claims in the Guardian newspaper on Wednesday, Schools Minister Jim Knight said: "Sir Jim Rose's report has not been completed let alone published yet - but we are already getting stories about dropping this or removing that from the curriculum.

"The bottom line is that we are working with experts to free up the curriculum in a way that teachers have asked us to do but British history has, and always will be, a core part of education in this country.

"Of course pupils in primary school will learn about major periods including the Romans, the Tudors and the Victorians and will be taught to understand a broad chronology of major events in this country and the wider world."

Ministers will formally respond to Sir Jim's proposals when they are published in April.

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