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Clause 1

Part of Education and Skills Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:30 pm on 31st January 2008.

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Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Minister of State (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Schools and Learners) 1:30 pm, 31st January 2008

Sir Jim Rose, who carried out the review that resulted in Letters and Sounds, is currently carrying out a review of primary curriculums. We have asked him to look at the transition from early years learning into more formal learning, and how we can smooth out that transition—it is a little clunky at the moment and that disengages some people—and then see the transition all the way through up to primary age. We look forward to hearing what Sir Jim has to say, and I am sure that we will look sympathetically at what he recommends. Beyond personal tutors, the social and emotional aspects of learning have worked extremely well at primary level, and we have started introducing that programme at secondary level. As well as teaching young people about behaviour and respect, it is giving them some of the skills that will enable them to find school more enjoyable and more engaging and to get on better with their peers.

We have a new secondary curriculum, which some are critical of but which is much more flexible. It will come in this September and it trusts teachers to pitch their teaching at the level that their class will find engaging. It allows subjects to be linked together more effectively while still being based on a robust set of knowledge that is required in the programmes of study.

We have the changes to Connexions that we are talking about under the Bill. There is the introduction of 17 new diplomas—possibly the bravest qualification reform that has been carried out for some time. We are on track to meeting every major milestone on time and on target in that programme. There is the introduction of the foundation learning tier for those who are below level 2 in their abilities, so that there is still a tiered set of qualifications and attainment that can be achieved by those who are less able. We announced the apprenticeships expansion on Monday. We are looking to one in five over-16s being able to access an apprenticeship. There is the introduction of the A* grade in the reforms at A-level. We are proceeding with a range of changes at pre-16 level.