The New National Curriculum

A ‘curriculum’ is a list of content to be taught and learnt – a course of study for schools, colleges and universities. From September 2014, schools in England follow a new National Curriculum - a course of study decided by the Department for Education. Private schools, academies and free schools are exempt: they do not need to follow the requirements.

Below is a brief introduction to the National Curriculum. Download the entire National Curriculum for more detail.

National Curriculum: Overview

The following extract from section 2 of the National Curriculum (Department for Education, September 2013) provides a helpful overview:

2.1 Every state-funded school must offer a curriculum which is balanced and broadly based and which:

  • promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society, and
  • prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life

2.2 The school curriculum comprises all learning and other experiences that each school plans for its pupils. The national curriculum forms one part of the school curriculum.

2.3 All state schools are also required to make provision for a daily act of collective worship and must teach religious education to pupils at every key stage and sex and relationship education to pupils in secondary education.

2.4 Maintained schools in England are legally required to follow the statutory national curriculum which sets out in programmes of study, on the basis of key stages, subject content for those subjects that should be taught to all pupils. All schools must publish their school curriculum by subject and academic year online (as we do here).

2.5 All schools should make provision for personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), drawing on good practice. Schools are also free to include other subjects or topics of their choice in planning and designing their own programme of education.

National Curriculum: Aims

Section 3 2 of the National Curriculum (Department for Education, September 2013) sets out its aims:

3.1 The national curriculum provides pupils with an introduction to the essential knowledge that they need to be educated citizens. It introduces pupils to the best that has been thought and said; and helps engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.

3.2 The national curriculum is just one element in the education of every child. There is time and space in the school day and in each week, term and year to range beyond the national curriculum specifications. The national curriculum provides an outline of core knowledge around which teachers can develop exciting and stimulating lessons to promote the development of pupils’ knowledge, understanding and skills as part of the wider school curriculum.

National Curriculum: Structure

At Sacred Heart School, there are three phases in total:

  • Early Years: ages 4-5 (Reception); the National Curriculum does not cover this phase
  • Key Stage 1: ages 5-7 (Years 1-2)
  • Key Stage 2: ages 7-11 (Years 3-6)

For Key Stages 1 and 2, there are three core subjects:

  • English (spoken language, reading, writing, including grammar and punctuation)
  • Mathematics (including number and place value, calculations, fractions, measurements, geometry)
  • Science (including ‘working scientifically’)

In addition, there are foundation subjects, for Key Stages 1 and 2, these are:

  • Art and design
  • Computing
  • Design and technology (DT)
  • Geography
  • History
  • Music
  • Physical education (PE)

A language is also a foundation subject in Key Stage 2 – we’ve been teaching French to our older children for several years now. Religious Education must also be taught in both key stages.