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17 July 2007 : Column 334W—continued

Secondary Education: Curriculum

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what evidence the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority had that the new secondary curriculum will be effective; and if he will place in the Library copies of that evidence. [150386]

Jim Knight: The revised curriculum will be effective in providing flexibility for catch-up classes in English and mathematics; effective in providing flexibility to allow pupils to extend and deepen their understanding in areas where they have particular aptitudes and interests; and effective in providing pupils with the personal attributes and practical life skills they will need for success at work and in their daily lives.

The approach taken by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority in developing the new curriculum builds on evidence from work carried out with schools and colleges going back a number of years. For example, the ‘futures in action’ programme, which has been running since 2005, has continued to demonstrate a high degree of consensus about many of the characteristics of how the curriculum should be shaped, QCA’s work is also supported by the results of its international comparisons and its annual curriculum monitoring programme, which includes interviews and questionnaires with head teachers, deputy heads, teachers and pupils.

It is not practical to collect all of this research evidence, from the UK and abroad, and to place copies of all relevant documents in the Libraries of the House. However, much of this information can be accessed via the QCA’s website at:

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will ask the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to publish the agenda and minutes of the external committee for the secondary curriculum. [150387]

Jim Knight: The Department has no plans to ask the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to publish the agendas and minutes of its secondary curriculum review external committee.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families on what basis it was decided to separate concepts, processes and knowledge in the revised programmes of study for the national curriculum. [150388]

Jim Knight: The aim of the secondary curriculum review was to clarify the fundamental aspects of subjects which underpin their study and draw on content to promote deeper understanding.

We do not expect teachers to teach concepts, processes and discretely, but to integrate them in the classroom.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will conduct a comparative analysis of the proposed secondary curriculum and the curricula of those education systems that perform best in international comparisons. [150391]

Jim Knight: The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has been compiling comparative information on curriculum and assessment frameworks since 1996. The work is managed and updated by the international information unit at the National Foundation for Educational Research. It provides descriptions of government policy on education for 20 countries.

The countries concerned are: Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the USA and Wales.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what revisions were made to the revised national curriculum programmes of study following the statutory consultation process. [150392]

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Jim Knight: Changes were made to the mathematics programmes of study to develop the key concepts to make them more in line with those in other subjects and to show what underpins the study of mathematics. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority met with the advisory committee on mathematics education to discuss the changes.

Revisions were made to the key concepts, key processes and range and content of citizenship programmes of study to provide greater clarity of what should be offered in the light of Sir Keith Ajegbo’s review on diversity and citizenship.

The modern foreign languages programme of study was amended to provide an illustrative list of the European and major world languages which can be taught.

Changes were made to retain ‘systems and control’ and ‘resistant materials’ as elements of compulsory study within the key stage 3 design and technology curriculum.

Changes were made to align better the personal wellbeing programmes of study with the social and emotional aspects of learning programme.

The economic wellbeing programmes of study were renamed economic wellbeing and financial capability.

In other subjects drafting changes were made to provide greater clarity.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) how many responses to the secondary curriculum statutory consultation relating to a programme of study at key stages 3 and 4 were received from parents, broken down by subject; [150393]

(2) whether the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority actively sought the involvement of parents during the statutory consultation period for the new secondary curriculum; [150395]

(3) how many parents were involved with activities undertaken by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority on the statutory consultation period for the new secondary curriculum; [150396]

(4) how many events for parents were held by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority as part of the consultation process for the secondary curriculum review. [150397]

Jim Knight: There were no specific consultations with parents covering the programmes of study for particular subjects.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, working with St. Martin's college, held two consultation events for parents in Sandwell on 16 March 2007 and in Bristol on 22 March 2007. The QCA also exhibited at the education show, which was widely attended by parents and teachers, though numbers were not collected.

The widespread media coverage generated by the consultation launch and subsequent features and newspaper supplements were designed to ensure that all parents could engage with the review if they so wished.

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Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families pursuant to the answer of 16 April 2007, Official Report, column 310W, on Secondary Education: Curriculum, how many responses the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority received in relation to the secondary curriculum review consultation on the (a) programme of study and (b) supporting materials from (i) parents and (ii) pupils. [150418]

Jim Knight: A total of 10,613 people had direct contact with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority regarding the new curriculum through conferences, young people's forums and workshop events.

There were 1,891 responses to the online consultation questionnaire. 39 of these came from parents and 15 from pupils. Data are not broken down by programme of study or supporting materials.

The following table outlines the profile of respondents to the online consultation in detail. Of the 1,891 responses to the survey, 1,596 were from individuals and 295 were from groups.

Respondent type Number of respondents



Classroom or subject teacher/lecturer


Subject manager


Curriculum co-ordinator/manager


Course leader


Member of senior management team/leadership team


Head Teacher


School governor


Special educational needs teacher


Programme manager


Head of year


English as an additional language teacher


Other (within school)


Local authority


Subject association/subject advisor/subject lecturer/subject inspector


Teacher/professional association


Higher education institution






An organisation representing aspects of diversity


National youth organisation




An organisation representing aspects of inclusion


Governing body/national associations for school governors


National parents association




Ipsos MORI

Secondary Education: Sponsorship

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will make a statement on his policy that every secondary school should have a business and university partner. [149864]

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Jim Knight: It is the aspiration of the Government for every secondary school to have a business and university or college partner. Already over 85 per cent. of secondary schools, through becoming specialist schools, have developed relationships with local businesses. We currently have over 200 secondary, primary and special schools working towards trust status, which will cement partnerships with the private sector, higher education and further education sectors, and voluntary sector, in order to support strong school leadership. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State announced on 10 July his intention to encourage universities to take a much greater role in the academies programme, and the abolition of the requirement for universities and high-performing schools and colleges to provide £2 million before they can sponsor an academy.

The Secretary of State has invited the National Council for Educational Excellence to advise him on how businesses, universities and colleges can play a bigger part in support of schools, and on how independent and maintained schools can work together to raise standards for the benefit of all.

Teachers: Autism

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps he is taking to promote specialist teacher training for teachers dealing with children with autism. [150436]

Jim Knight: All teachers, as part of their initial teacher training and induction period, must demonstrate that they can differentiate their teaching to meet the needs of pupils, including those with special educational needs or disabilities, and know how to seek advice from those with specialist knowledge, such as the school’s SEN co-ordinator.

Once qualified, all teachers are expected to discuss their own development needs in performance management reviews, and to address development priorities. This could include strengthening knowledge and understanding of SEN, including autism. Where schools have identified a need to strengthen knowledge and understanding of SEN or disabilities, as a school priority, this should be addressed through their school improvement and development plans.

All schools receive a school development grant that they are able to use to support improvements in any aspect of teaching and learning. This includes professional development. A wide variety of courses are available covering SEN and disabilities, ranging from awareness raising through to in-depth studies leading to specific qualifications. It is, however, a matter for individual teachers and their schools to determine their own particular training and development needs. Local authorities may retain a proportion of this grant, under certain conditions, to provide specific training and development of SEN.

In 2002, we published jointly with the Department of Health ‘Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD): Good Practice Guidance’, which offered a series of pointers to good practice, including a number on in-service training. The guidance advised that

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In October 2007, the Department plans to formally launch its inclusion development programme which will help enhance teacher confidence in key areas of SEN. The programme will focus initially on speech, language and communication needs and dyslexia, since the ability to communicate is fundamental to learning and progression for all children with SEN and disabilities. It is envisaged that it will then address the needs of learners with ASD and behavioural, emotion and social difficulty, with other types of needs covered over time.

The Department is also working with voluntary sector organisations and others to support the establishment of an Autism Trust, which will aim to improve teachers’ specialist skills in working with children with ASD. We will announce further details later this year.

Teachers: Bureaucracy

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps were taken to reduce the bureaucratic burden on teachers in each year since 2000-01; and if he will make a statement. [149935]

Jim Knight: Since 2000-01 the Government have taken a number of actions to address the bureaucratic burden on teachers and we continue to work to ensure that teachers’ time is spent on key activities that support teaching and learning.

The key to helping schools and teachers on the ground is the new relationship with schools. The Department has built a new relationship with schools aimed at reducing bureaucratic burdens on them while reinforcing school autonomy at the same time as sharpening school accountability. This relationship included the introduction of a new inspection framework which halves the time and effort schools expend on inspection while focusing inspection even more closely on improving teaching and learning. The new relationship is also supporting and simplifying schools’ external accountability by the deployment of a nationally accredited school improvement partner to every school.

The Government, employers and a majority of school work force unions signed ‘Raising Standards and Tackling Workload: a National Agreement’ in 2003. This set out a number of changes to teachers’ contracts intended to bring downward pressure on working hours, and these were implemented between 2003 and 2005.

The agreement included a provision that teachers could no longer be required routinely to undertake a range of administrative or clerical tasks.

Implementation of the national agreements’ provisions have been overseen by the Workforce agreement monitoring group (made up of the Agreement’s signatories) and the group continues to work to ensure that teachers and head teachers have conditions of service which enable them to focus on their core roles of teaching and leading and managing teaching and learning.

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