Anger over teaching changes

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NEW controversy is likely to break out over the national curriculum today as the results of an exercise to reduce its size by one fifth are announced, writes Fran Abrams.

While most teachers will be delighted by the extra freedom it provides - the equivalent of one day a week - the changes to the curriculum for sport, English and history are all likely to spark fierce debate.

Under the proposals, all pupils will have to play competitive sport until they are 16. Schools will be able to choose to offer team games or individual sports, such as tennis. Iain Sproat, the sports minister, will be unhappy; the proposals allow for just 70-80 minutes of physical education a week.

Controversy is also likely to surround the new English curriculum, with several members of the advisory group which drew it up expressing concern over the final result. The traditional 'phonics' method of teaching reading is given extra weight.

Anne Barnes, general secretary of the National Association for the Teaching of English, said: 'It is a nonsense document and it is an opportunity which has been missed to provide something exciting and interesting.'

History is also likely to prove controversial with traditionalists saying the new curriculum misses out many important events but most teachers arguing it is too Anglocentric.