British values at heart of the new National Curriculum

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The Independent Online

Lessons in British values will form the keystone of a new National Curriculum for secondary schools to be unveiled on Thursday.

New-style citizenship classes will include lessons in national, regional, ethnic and religious cultures.

Children aged from 11 to 16 will be expected to explore changes in different UK communities. They will, for instance, studythe introduction of slaves into the UK centuries ago and the influx of Asians from Kenya and Uganda in the second half of the 20th century.

The measures, to be introduced in September 2008, emerge at the same time as a new legal obligation is placed on schools to promote community cohesion. Under this requirement, which becomes law in September, schools in all-white areas will have to twin with those that have a multi-cultural intake - so all youngsters can get an understanding of the different cultures in the UK.

"Introducing learning about the make-up of British society and British values into the curriculum will help promote greater understanding and tolerance," said schools minister Andrew Adonis.

The changes, which will be unveiled by Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, are intended to give teachers more freedom to decide what pupils should learn. Lessons in sustainable development will join the new geography curriculum. And there will be more themed lessons - such as global warming, which would straddle both science and geography.

However, some teachers are anxious that time for their subjects - such as history - will be lost as a result of the changes.