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UAE Concern on UK’s ‘Radical’ New Curriculum

UAE Concern on UK’s ‘Radical’ New Curriculum

Parents in the UAE are concerned about the timescale for the implementation of the radical new English curriculum launched this week, according to reports in the daily newspaper The National.

Schools have a little over a year to adapt and train teachers in a curriculum set to be introduced in September 2014.

Among the headlines from the announcement this week are that five-year-olds will study fractions as well as learn to write computer programs in their first year of school.  There will also be a requirement for 3-D printers to be used in design and technology lessons. The changes reflect a major revisions to the subject’s curriculum.

Five-year-olds to be taught fractions for the first time, for a solid grounding at an early age in preparation for algebra and more complex arithmetic.

Key skills in many subjects have been brought forward in a child’s school career, so primary-age pupils will be given more demanding tasks. For example,the maths curriculum will see nine-year-olds taught multiplication up to 12 times tables, which is more advanced than the current curriculum allows for 11-year-olds; while the design and technology curriculum will see seven-year-olds introduced to computer-aided design techniques.

The new curriculum was greeted by British Prime Minister David Cameron  as “rigorous, engaging and tough”. Under the new computing curriculum, pupils will be taught internet safety at a much younger age, including how to keep personal details private. Pupils from the age of five will be taught how to create digital information and content, as well as learning how to write and test simple programs and to organise and store data.

Here is a summary of the major changes in each subject so far:

English: Secondary school pupils between the ages of 11 and 14 will have to study two Shakespeare plays. Primary-age pupils should be able to recite poetry by heart in the first two years at school and have mastered around 200 complex spellings by the end of primary school.

Design and technology: Primary pupils to be taught to plan, design and build a product and evaluate its final result. Pupils will use mechanisms such as levers, sliders, wheels and axles in their products. From the age of seven, pupils will use mechanical and electrical systems, such as series circuits incorporating switches, bulbs and motors.


At secondary school, pupils will use advanced design techniques such as mathematical modelling and biomimicry. They will learn to use specialist tools, such as 3-D printers, laser cutters and robotics. Pupils will be taught to incorporate and program microprocessor chips into products they have designed and made.

History: Primary pupils expected to study history up to 1066, including compulsory study of ancient Greece, and comparison of significant figures including Rosa Parks and Tim Berners-Lee. Secondary school pupils to study post-Norman conquest. Key historical figures to study include Henry VIII, Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill.

Computing: Primary school children to design, test and write computer programs, and to organise, store and retrieve data. All pupils to be taught internet safety from the age of five, including how to keep their personal details private, how to spot danger, and how to communicate safely through the internet. At secondary school, pupils will be taught to use a range of programming languages. They will study networked computer systems, and how hardware and software interact. Pupils interested in pursuing a professional career in computing will be given the opportunity to study in greater depth.

• Geography: The new version will include specific references to changes in weather and the climate from the ice age to the present. Pupils to be taught about the role of humans in climate change, and how human and physical processes interact to influence and change landscapes, environments and the climate, and how humans depend on the effective functioning of natural systems.

• Mathematics: Five-year-olds to be taught fractions for the first time, for a solid grounding at an early age in preparation for algebra and more complex arithmetic. The new curriculum states that nine-year-olds must be taught times tables to 12, with more emphasis on the skills of mathematical modelling and problem-solving.

• Science: Evolution will be taught to primary school pupils for the first time, with the new curriculum having a greater focus on scientific knowledge, practical work and mathematical requirements. In secondary school, pupils will study biology, chemistry and physics in greater depth, with greater emphasis on mathematical modelling and problem-solving.


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  1. November 6, 2013, 5:09 pm

    When I compare my European education of thirty years ago to today’s British curriculum education in Dubai, I feel very much cheated! Thirty years ago, we used to study in details and learn far better how to analyze and to think. Moreover, education was, as it is today, absolutely free of charge and easily available for everyone.

    Nowadays, children in Dubai can easily confuse private schools with holiday camps, while their parents pay more than the top schools in the US and the UK cost. The situation with the universities is very similar, if not far worse.


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