Officials at odds on how to teach spoken English

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The Independent Online
THE GOVERNMENT'S proposed changes to the way English is taught in schools in England and Wales are being launched today, amid bitter disagreement from the Welsh Office and the Curriculum Council for Wales, writes Donald MacLeod.

Officials in Wales and England are at odds over how to teach spoken English and whether schools should be given prescribed lists of books.

Despite the determination of John Patten, Secretary of State for Education, to impose a single order on all schools, the council is mounting a rearguard action to emasculate his proposals and retain the present curriculum which Conservatives regard as too vague on grammar.

Mr Patten's opponents hope that the expression of views from teachers in Wales will be strong enough to persuade David Hunt, Secretary of State for Wales, to issue a separate curriculum order for Welsh schools. The Welsh Office said that its officials worked closely with the Curriculum Council for Wales and it was 'very unlikely' that Mr Hunt would overrule its advice to impose the proposals stemming from England.

But yesterday the National Curriculum Council, the body for England, took the extraordinary step of issuing a statement pointing out that the Welsh body's proposals were 'unofficial'. Mr Patten's proposals for both England and Wales will be based on the advice of the national council, whose chairman, David Pascall, will unveil them in London today.

The Curriculum Council for Wales rejects the new emphasis on correcting children's spoken English from the start and recommends that schools are given categories of books to cover, backed by examples, rather than lists of compulsory authors.