Share this page
Schools have a responsibility to provide a broad and balanced curriculum for all pupils. The National Curriculum is the starting point for planning a school curriculum that meets the specific needs of individuals and groups of pupils and it sets out a clear, full and statutory entitlement to learning for all pupils up to the age of 16. It applies to pupils of compulsory school age in community and foundation schools, including community special schools and foundation special schools, and voluntary aided and voluntary controlled schools.
The National Curriculum is the minimum that a school must offer and all schools will provide much more for their pupils. Beyond the National Curriculum the additional experiences and opportunities will depend on the type, aims and ethos of the school. For example a school with a Modern Foreign Language specialism is likely to offer a wider choice of languages at Key Stage 4 and will probably expect all pupils to study at least one language.
The National Curriculum is organised on the basis of a foundation stage and four key stages: Foundation Stage (age 3-5 years), Key Stage 1 (5-7 years), Key Stage 2 (7-11 years), Key Stage 3 (11- 14 years) and Key stage 4 (14-16 years).
In all Key stages, in addition to the National Curriculum, teaching of Religious Education (RE) is a legal requirement and there is non-statutory guidance for the teaching of Personal, Social and Health Education. In Key stages 3 and 4, Sex Education, Citizenship, Careers Education become statutory as does Work-related learning in Key stage 4.
Copies of National Curriculum guidance should be available for you to see in your child's school or they can be found by following the links to the Qualification and Assessment Authority website or the National Curriculum online website at the bottom of this page.
After the age of 16, pupils can be educated in the Sixth Form of a school, in a Sixth Form College, in a College of Further Education, in work-based learning or in a combination of these. A wide range of qualifications is available.
Please note that government policy on education is liable to change with the publication of the Education White Paper later this year. Therefore, should readers need specific guidance, they should either contact their local school for the latest situation, or contact the Local Authority as detailed below.
Curriculum - frequently asked questions