Unions fears 1950s-style teaching as Gove plans review

History and geography lessons are set to focus on facts and figures under a new back-to-basics national curriculum.

Education Secretary Michael Gove is launching a review of the curriculum today after previously raising concerns that key areas of knowledge are missing from the current "overly-prescriptive" system.

The review will look at how the curriculum can be slimmed down, to contain only the "essential knowledge" children should acquire, and leave teachers to decide how to teach it.

Radical secondary curriculum reforms published by the last Labour Government in 2007 saw key historical figures such as Winston Churchill cut from a list of figures recommended for teaching as part of a bid to allow teachers more flexibility over what they teach.

The then Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the body responsible at the time, argued teachers did not need to be told to mention pivotal figures.

But the coalition government argues here should be a core knowledge that pupils should have to take their place as "educated members of society" and this should "embody our cultural and scientific inheritance, the best that our past and present generations have to pass on to the next".

But ministers also said the curriculum must not attempt to cover "every conceivable area of human knowledge or endeavour" and should not become "a vehicle for imposing passing political fads on our children".

The proposals have, however, led to warnings against politcal interference in what is taught in classrooms.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said: "Teachers want another curriculum review like a hole in the head.

"This is a pointless review when ministers have already determined that children should have a 1950s-style curriculum.

"Last week the coalition Government dismissed a whole raft of current core subjects as unimportant.

"A review is unlikely to change this prejudiced and elitist view."