Primary schools 'should focus on pupils' lifestyles'

Teachers should address personal development in curriculum, says report
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Primary schools should place just as much emphasis on children's wellbeing and lifestyle as maths and English, says a report being studied by the Government's primary curriculum review team.

The report says that teachers should assess pupils on their personal development – looking at issues such as a healthy lifestyle, sex and relationships education and assessing their own self-esteem. The teachers will report back their findings to parents.

The report stems from a series of 60 seminars held with parents and teachers to discuss the review of the primary school curriculum, set up by the Schools Secretary Ed Balls and headed by the former Ofsted inspector Sir Jim Rose.

The findings will now be considered by Sir Jim before he makes an interim report to ministers next month.

The report says those who took part in the consultation accepted that "personal development must be the central driver of planning and accepted that skills, values and attitudes needed to be integrated, taught discretely and also permeate the whole of learning".

Several areas of content of the curriculum were important, it added, "including healthy lifestyles, sex and relationships education, drug and alcohol education, philosophy, self-esteem and helping to understand multiple cultural identities".

The report also calls for community languages such as Urdu, Polish and Arabic to be offered as part of the primary curriculum "alongside the more usual European languages".

The report welcomes the Government's drive to ensure all youngsters from the age of seven learn a modern foreign language by the end of the decade, adding: "All delegates agreed that modern languages are popular with children, especially when started early and when combined with knowledge and understanding of the world.

The report says that teachers and parents were also "almost unanimously" in favour of focusing on speaking and listening as part of the English curriculum as well as reading and writing.

The report has already been criticised by the Conservatives, whose schools spokesman Nick Gibb said: "If the primary curriculum is watered down so lessons on lifestyle are given the same status as traditional subject it is the most disadvantaged children who will be worst affected."

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families stressed that the views were "a summary of stakeholders' views" not its own opinions but added the report "has been submitted to Sir Jim Rose's review as evidence to consider".