Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the NASUWT, called it the best news for primary teachers since the election and Chris Woodhead, chief inspector of schools, said he was delighted.
The Guardian (p2) reports that under the plans, pupils under 11 would no longer be required to stick to the detailed national syllabus in history, goegraphy, design and technology, art, music or PE.
The changes - to be introduced in September - are a stopgap measure pending a complete revision of the curriculum in 2000 but education secretary David Blunkett left little doubt that the new focus would become permanent.
Although he supported Mr Blunkett at yesterday's press conference, he emphasised that schools achieving their literacy and numeracy targets had no reason to narrow their curriculum.
Dr Tate said he would consult on the government's proposals and was keen to hear responses.