Education Secretary Michael Gove wants schools to ensure pupils have a firm grounding in the imperial units most commonly used – including miles, pints, feet and ounces.
Schools have been required to teach metric units as the prime system of measurement since 1974. Although metric units will still be taught as 'standard', schools will now be expected to improve children's understanding of imperial units to reflect their continued widespread use on the roads, to measure height and for many basic goods, including milk.
The current curriculum merely asks that pupils are familiar with the names of imperial measures and know approximate conversions into the metric system.
But the Government yesterday revealed it intended to 'go further' to increase the rigour of maths lessons and improve children's fluency in dealing with both sets of measures. A revised maths curriculum for primary schools will 'include explicit reference to miles'.
According to drafts of the curriculum, pupils will now be required to 'use, read, write and convert between standard units...including between miles and kilometres'.
They will also need to 'understand and use basic equivalencies between metric and common imperial units'.
The plans emerged in response to a Commons written question by Andrew Percy, Tory MP for Brigg and Goole. Mr Percy, a teacher, said he was pleased the Government had backed his call to 'improve and extend teaching of imperial measurements'.
Imperial units continue to have widespread use on the roads, to measure height and for many basic goods, including milk
'Of course everyone has to learn metric as well,' Mr Percy said. 'Some professions are completely metric.'
Plans for a new primary curriculum, along with other subjects at primary and secondary level, are to be published in the next few weeks. Ministers intend to introduce them in September 2014.
Education Minister Liz Truss said: 'We propose to include imperial units within the new programmes of study for mathematics.'
Officials said the Government was adding more elements to the curriculum, including an increased focus on imperial units, but insisted the initiative would not entail 'significant' change.
'Imperial units are in the current curriculum and will be in the new curriculum. Both the mathematics and science curriculum will continue to teach metric measures as standard,' said a spokesman for the Department for Education.
However, the additional emphasis on imperial units will dismay campaigners, including the UK Metric Association.
Lord Howe, the former Tory Cabinet minister, earlier this year called on ministers to end the 'deeply confusing shambles' of using a mixture of metric and imperial measures.
He warned: 'The only solution is to complete the changeover to metric as swiftly and as cleanly as possible.'