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Millions of children in England will begin a “tough” new national curriculum when they return to school this week. Five-year-olds will learn fractions and computer coding, while those in early secondary school will have to study at least two Shakespeare plays. The curriculum is being implemented for most year groups simultaneously. Teachers’ leaders say the timetable is unrealistic, but the Department for Education said its aim was to prepare children for “life in modern Britain”. A spokesman said the government wanted “all children to learn the core knowledge in key subjects – the ones universities and employers value the most”.

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