`Creativity hit by curriculum'

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A FORMER adviser to David Blunkett says the national curriculum should be cut in half to allow pupils more time to think creatively.

Tom Bentley, who used to work for the Secretary of State for Education, said organisational and interpersonal skills were more important than a string of qualifications in conventional subjects. In a book, The Creative Age, Mr Bentley, director of the left-of-centre think-tank Demos, argues that the current national curriculum prevents teachers from fostering creativity and other attributes essential for the economy of the future.

Mr Bentley and Kimberley Seltzer, his co-author, argue that the national curriculum was crucial to the Government's drive to raise standards. But, they say, the curriculum's demands "are in danger of becoming a brake on progress rather than a guarantee of high and consistent standards.

"The central danger is that the curriculum will become too heavily defined by content at the expense of depth of understanding and breadth of application." The book's conclusions follow repeated complaints by teachers that the Government's prescription for literacy and numeracy in primary schools has squeezed out creativity, by reducing the time available for subjects such as history, art, music and sport.

Ministers insist they have increased flexibility in the revised national curriculum, published earlier this month.