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The CBI has welcomed some of the Government's changes to the national curriculum, but said focusing on rigorous academic knowledge "isn't enough on its own".
Neil Carberry, CBI director of employment and skills, said: "Businesses want a system where young people are equipped with the broader skills they need to be rounded, grounded and ready for work.
"The original design and technology proposals badly lacked academic and technical rigour, while being out of step with the modern workplace.
"The new proposals feel much sharper and focused on the technical skills industry and employers need, though that must now be backed by really effective specialist teaching".
Prime Minister David Cameron said the Government took the decision to change the national curriculum now because "we are in a global race".
Mr Cameron told This Morning: "We need to make sure the standards we set are as tough as those on the other side of the world.
"If we want to turn out young people who take on the world and win we've got to be rigorous at school".
The Government states that the new curriculum for English will raise reading standards "because children will be expected to read increasingly challenging material independently".
Under the new system, children between the ages of five and seven will learn to:
- Apply phonic knowledge and skills as the route to decode words
- Learn to reads words with contractions, eg I’m, I’ll, we’ll
- Learn how to use both familiar and new punctuation correctly
- Expand noun phrases to describe and specify, eg the blue butterfly
- Use conjunctions, adverbs and prepositions to express time and cause
- Listen to and discuss a wide range of poems, stories and non-fiction at a level beyond that which they can read independently
The Prime Minister has described the launch of the new national curriculum as a "really important day for British education".
Speaking on a visit to St Mary's and St John's primary school in north London, David Cameron said the curriculum combined "the best of the old and the best of the new".
Mr Cameron continued: "We are competing in a global race. I want British children coming out of school to be at the top of the class, beating the best in the world.
"We have got to get this right and get it right now. There are children being turned out of schools in other parts of the world who are competing with us.
"We should be measuring ourselves against the best in the world. That needs to start now".
Education Secretary Michael Gove said the changes to the national curriculum would help children of all abilities to succeed as "children actually enjoy being set a challenge".
Mr Gove told Daybreak: "I think the most important thing is to make sure that we understand when children arrive in school how well they're performing so that we can then ensure that those children who are bright are really stretched.
"But also those children who may arrive at school not perhaps with all the preparations in place for them to enjoy their learning are helped to enjoy their learning so that children of all abilities can succeed.
"One of the things I've found is that children actually enjoy being set a challenge, and as soon as you ensure that you understand the level at which children are working, then you are able to set an appropriate challenge.
"All of us thrive when we are set a challenge that's just a wee bit beyond what we're comfortable with, but within our grasp".
Education Secretary Michael Gove told Daybreak that "speaking as a parent" the changes to the national curriculum "can't come quickly enough".
Mr Gove said, "I want my children, who are in primary school at the moment, to have the sort of curriculum that children in other countries have that are doing better than our own".
He stressed that a more "rigorous" curriculum would help children when they compete for college places or jobs in the future.
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers has criticised plans to overhaul the national curriculum, saying he is "risking total chaos" in September with schools unclear about what they need to be planning for.
Labour have slammed Michael Gove's new national curriculum plans saying he should "listen to the experts." Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg said:
"This is now Michael Gove's third attempt to rewrite the curriculum.
"He should listen to the experts and not try to write it himself based on his personal prejudices. We need a broad and balanced curriculum that prepares young people for the modern world and gives teachers in all schools the freedom to innovate."
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