Patten accepts radical changes to curriculum

Proposals for a radical revision of the national curriculum have been accepted by John Patten, Secretary of State for Education, with few changes, it was disclosed yesterday, writes Fran Abrams.

Sir Ron Dearing, whose School Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCAA) has conducted a year-long exercise to slim down each subject and to simplify testing, will announce detailed proposals on Monday. Schools will have the equivalent of one day a week free from the compulsory elements of the national curriculum. Mr Patten, who received the findings before Easter, will applaud Sir Ron's efforts and launch a three-month consultation exercise.

The consultation, costing up to pounds 2m, will be one of the most extensive in British education. Some 1.5 million documents will be sent to schools, colleges and lobby groups in 30,000 packs. Up to 7,000 teachers will be invited to four conferences and 120 discussion days.

The SCAA, which will oversee the tests for 14-year- olds in English, maths and science, said that 98 per cent of schools had ordered the test papers despite a boycott by the National Union of Teachers, but this does not mean such a large proportion will carry out the tests.