The secondary school curriculum is to be radically relaxed in order to give teachers more freedom in the classroom.
The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) announced today teachers will be given free reign over a quarter of the school day.
This could see secondary school pupils learning subjects as diverse as mandarin and financial management.
Core subjects will be retained, with all pupils expected to learn traditional stalwarts such as the Battle of Hastings, Romeo and Juliet an ox bow lake formation.
Announcing the reform at Lord’s cricket ground, Ken Boston, chief executive of the QCA, said the move would increase flexibility.
Mr Boston continued: “The new curriculum builds on the best of the past by maintaining the discipline of subjects, but at the same time offering greater opportunities for personalised learning, addressing the major challenges that face society and equipping young people with the skills for life and work in the 21st Century.
“By mixing tradition with a more creative approach to the curriculum, we will achieve our objective of producing successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens.”
The reform, which was developed in consultation with teachers and parents, has been welcomed by education professionals and employers.
It follows the government’s wider attempt to personalise education for individual children.
Ministers hope it will encourage schools to diversify their teaching, bringing in lessons on climate change, healthy eating and similarly relevant topics.
Andrew Motion, poet laureate, said: “One of the several heartening things about the revised Secondary Curriculum is the way it creates more space and provides more encouragement for pupils to discover the value of contributing to a creative culture of learning.
“Just as importantly, it spreads the benefits of this approach across all subjects and disciplines. It is a very welcome development.”
The Liberal Democrats have dismissed the announcement as spin and empty promises.
David Laws, Lib Dem schools spokesman, said children need to learn French and Spanish before Mandarin and Urdu.