Monday, 22 November 2010

Inaccurate report from the Times on the future of 'sexual health lessons'

Last week The Times reported that 'lessons in Citizenship, sexual health, thinking and functional skills are set to be dropped by many in a radical slimming down of the national curriculum'. It is based on the information on an unnamed Government source and perhaps more solidly on a paper written by Tim Oates, director of research at Cambridge Assessment, parent body of the OCR exam board.

Now the headline was clear - 'sexual health lessons to be scrapped in review of the curriculum', and understandably there was a little twitter of concern about the implications of this. I read the paper this weekend to ascertain the truth.

The paper Could do better: using international comparisons to refine National Curriculum in England does indeed mention sexual health on page 2. It says;

Adjustments have occurred not only in the 'core' material of the currculum (e.g the removal of the cross curriculum themes and skills: the move from ten levels to eight) but in the repeated addition of new material (e.g functional skills, Citizenship, sexual health as a theme in biology), changes in assessment (e.g the incorporation of mental mathematics in testing......

But that is the only mention, and Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education in his Foreword states that Department for Education will 'launch its own review of the National Curriculum and the remit will explicitly, for the first time, require benchmarking against the most successful school systems.'

So my conclusion is that we don't know whether or not sexual health lessons will be scrapped in the review of the national curriculum, because the review hasn't happened yet - the only exception to my conclusion would be if the government source quoted in the article told The Times more than 'the national curriculum MIGHT be reduced to 20 or 30 pages and gave a more detailed account of what it would include. Unlikely if the review hasn't happened.

For those of you interested in the national curriculum, Oates' paper is worth a read.

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