TEACHERS are in ‘despair’ over the Government’s proposed new curriculum for primary schools, according to a Lancashire union chief.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) held its annual conference in Liverpool last week, with members saying the changes will mean pupils are expected to learn a raft of ‘meaningless’ facts and figures.

However, Helen Sullivan, headteacher at St Peter's RC Primary School in Rossendale, said it was too early to judge the new curriculum and said some aspects of it sounded positive.

She said: “I think the fact there’s more of a focus on basic skills such as grammar is right because standards in general are slipping in terms of daily spoken English.

“Schools also need to be trusted to make their own decisions about what suits their children best, so we’ll wait and see what comes out of it and see how we can adapt for the needs of our children.”

Simon Jones, NUT secretary for Blackburn with Darwen, said: “Teachers really do feel passionately about Michael Gove’s changes to the primary curriculum.

“Many are in despair at the total lack of understanding demonstrated by the Secretary of State about how young children learn.

“Rote learning – a succession of facts and figures – is not only inappropriate but will also be quite meaningless to children.

“What they will be trained to do is remember lists of name, places and numbers.

“What they will not learn is how to think critically or to use any creativity.”

The new curriculum will bring in a series of phonics, spelling, grammar and punctuation tests, which could leave many children feeling a failure, Mr Jones added.

The Department for Education said in a statement: “The new curriculum is based on careful analysis of the world’s most successful school systems.

“We are giving schools more freedom over the curriculum and teaching – not less.

“We are reforming the exam system to test deeper cognitive skills such as mathematical problem-solving and extended writing, which are neglected now, but these skills do not exist in a vacuum and depend on solid foundations.”