HC Deb 05 February 1996 vol 271 c79W
Rev. William McCrea

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the quality and diversity of the curriculum in school education. [12551]

Mr. Ancram

For pupils aged four to 16, the Northern Ireland curriculum provides a broad range of subjects offering high-quality programmes of study and ensuring a curriculum of appropriate breadth, balance and depth. The requirements for all compulsory subjects—apart from the statutory core syllabus for religious education, the content of which has not been reviewed—have recently been reduced to give teachers and pupils at all ages more flexibility to study subjects and topics in which they are interested beyond the requirements. The revised programmes will come into effect from September 1996, and I am confident that teachers will welcome them.

For pupils aged 16 to 19 in schools, there is no compulsory curriculum beyond religious education; each school with a sixth form offers a range of subjects according to its own strengths and students' needs. The Dearing review will be reporting within the next few months on ways to strengthen, consolidate and improve the national framework of qualifications for young people aged 16-plus which of course also applies in Northern Ireland.