By Laura Miller
Primary school children in England are being failed by a national curriculum that focuses too much on core subjects like maths and English, according to a report released today.
Over-testing had also caused a breakdown in a "deficient" education that "needlessly compromised" children's right to a broad learning experience, the report by the Cambridge Primary Reviews said.
As a result children were being left "impoverished" by the "standards agenda".
A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families rebuked claims pupils were leaving primary education without the necessary broad skill base.
"To say our children are receiving a deficient education is insulting to hard working pupils and teachers everywhere and flies in the face of international evidence," he said.
But the latest part of an extensive review by Cambridge University into England's primary education system claims the primary curriculum has been deliberately narrowed to make it easier to test children and produce league tables, at the expense of breadth of learning.
Professor Robin Alexander, director of the Cambridge Primary Review, said: "Our argument is that their [children's] education, and to some degree their lives, are impoverished if they have received an education that is so fundamentally deficient."
The report's authors urge ministers to re-evaluate current practices in which humanities subjects like history, geography and the arts, as well as science, are being "squeezed out".
Through eight "domains" the report recommends a much more personal and social education to equip children for life in the wider world.
The domains would be arts and creativity; citizenship and ethics; faith and belief; language, oracy and literacy; mathematics; physical and emotional health; place and time (geography and history); science and technology.
The government has commissioned its own independent inquiry into primary education. A flexible, less-overloaded time table constitutes one of the main recommendations of its interim findings.