17/12/2011 09:51 GMT

National Curriculum Changes Delayed

A shake-up of the national curriculum has been delayed for a year amid warnings from unions that the original timetable was a "recipe for disaster".

Changes to the teaching framework for England are now not expected to be in place until 2014, a spokesman for the Department for Education said.

Officials were concerned that extra time was needed to avoid a rushed reform that failed to produce a curriculum "on a par with the best in the world", the Daily Telegraph was told.

The conclusions of an independent review are published next week, and is reported to include a new target for times tables to be learned by the age of nine, rather than 11.

Education Secretary Michael Gove signalled earlier this year that he wanted a more intensive focus on maths at a younger age to prepare pupils for advanced study.

However, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said setting targets for times tables could skew teaching by providing "perverse incentives" to focus on one area.

General secretary Brian Lightman said: "ASCL has said all along that trying to put in place a new National Curriculum by 2013 was a recipe for disaster.

"We are pleased that it appears the government has listened to advice and is allowing a proper consultation and implementation phase, with introduction in 2014."

"It is encouraging to hear the DfE recognise that rushed and poorly debated curriculum change creates chaos for schools by allowing them too little time to prepare.

"However this is exactly what they have done with the change to terminal GCSE exams. We hope in 2012 the DfE will heed its own advice more often."