DES Circular 6/81 (1981)

In this circular, the government requested that local education authorities review the curriculum offered in their schools in the light of The school curriculum (1981).

The text of DES Circular 6/81 was prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 15 June 2009.

Circular 6/81 (1981)
The School Curriculum

Department of Education and Science
London: 1981
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

Circular No. 6/81
1 October 1981.


'The School Curriculum'

1. The School Curriculum was published by the Secretaries of State for Education and Science and for Wales on 25 March 1981; copies were then sent to every local education authority with a request to distribute them among the schools maintained by the authority. This Circular should be read in conjunction with The School Curriculum.

2. That paper sets out the views of the Secretaries of State on a range of matters relating to the school curriculum. These views will be reflected in the Government's policies which bear on the school curriculum.

3. The balance of statutory responsibility for the secular curriculum is defined by Section 23 of the Education Act 1944 and the articles of government of individual schools. This Circular is addressed to local education authorities and the governors of aided secondary schools; the Secretary of State asks local education authorities to draw it to the attention of the governing bodies of their other maintained (including special) schools.

4. The Secretary of State believes that, subject to the provisions mentioned in paragraph 3 above, the responsibility of local education authorities to secure the provision of efficient and sufficient primary and secondary education to meet the needs of their areas implies a concern for the content and quality of that education (see paragraph 8 of The School Curriculum). He believes that governing bodies have a valuable role to play in this field in bringing together the views of teachers, parents and the local community. He recognises also the central role of head teachers and their staffs in shaping the curriculum in individual schools. He considers that all of these partners should work towards the common end of securing a planned and coherent curriculum within the schools, taking account of national and local considerations and the needs of individual pupils.

5. The Secretary of State considers that each local education authority should, in the light of what is said in The School Curriculum:

(a) review its policy for the school curriculum in its area, and its arrangements for making that policy known to all concerned;

(b) review the extent to which current provision in the schools is consistent with that policy; and

(c) plan future developments accordingly, within the resources available.

In taking these actions, local education authorities should consult governors of schools, teachers and others concerned.

6. The Secretary of State looks to governors to encourage their schools, within the resources available, to develop their curricula in the light of what is said in The School Curriculum; and to cooperate with the local education authorities in the action which they take to implement paragraph 5 of this Circular. He is confident that the governors of aided secondary schools will wish to play their full part, consistent with their statutory responsibilities, in these processes.

7. The Secretary of State also draws the attention of authorities and governors of schools to his view that schools should set out in writing the aims which they pursue through the organisation of the curriculum and in teaching programmes; and should assess regularly how far the curriculum - in the schools as a whole and for individual pupils - matches the stated aims. He asks that these matters be pursued, in close collaboration with the head teachers and other staff of schools.

8. The Secretary of State proposes, after consultation with the local authority associations and the voluntary bodies, to review the steps which have been taken in response to this Circular. He envisages that this will be done in about two years from now.

J. Hamilton,
1 October 1981.

To: Local Education Authorities
      The Governors of Voluntary Aided Secondary Schools.