What is the National Curriculum anyway?
The National Curriculum defines the programmes of study for key subjects in maintained/ state primary and secondary schools in England (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own equivalents). Fundamentally, it sets out what your child is supposed to learn and when. A new version was introduced in September 2014.
Why the changes?
The current Government's view was that the old curriculum wasn't sufficiently challenging.
The new curriculum has been developed partly by comparing England's curriculum to those in other countries. As the Department of Education puts it, it's all about trying to compete in the global economy and the forthcoming curriculum "combines the best elements of what is taught in the world's most successful school systems, including Hong Kong, Massachusetts, Singapore and Finland, with some of the most impressive [existing] practice from schools in England."
The idea is for children to "go further...at an earlier age" and it's clear from reading through the official literature that expectations are considerably higher for any given year group. Whilst some of the content is totally new, existing topics will be introduced a year or two earlier than would currently be the case for most children.
Does the new curriculum cover subjects beyond maths and literacy?
The new curriculum, like the old, encompasses other subjects too – from science and RE to history and foreign languages. What's different is the content. Changes include more programming within ICT/ computing and compulsory cookery lessons.
Below is a brief introduction to the National Curriculum. Download the entire National Curriculum for more detail.
The Structure of the National Curriculum
At Hollybush Primary school, there are four phases in total:
* Foundation Stage: ages 3-5 (Nursery & Reception); the National Curriculum does not cover this phase
* Key Stage 1: ages 5-7 (Years 1-2)
* Lower Key Stage 2: ages 7-9 (Years 3 & 4)
* Upper Key Stage 2: ages 9-11 (Years 5 & 6)
For Key Stages 1 and 2, there are three core subjects:
* Literacy: Spoken language, reading, writing, including grammar and punctuation.
* Mathematics: This includes number and place value, calculations, fractions, measurements and geometry.
* Science: This including ‘working scientifically’
In addition, there are foundation subjects; for Key Stages 1 and 2, these are:
* art and design
* design and technology (DT)
* physical education (PE)
A language is also a foundation subject in Key Stage 2 – we’ve been teaching Spanish to our older children for several years now. Religious Education must also be taught in both key stages.