Schools' curriculum

Schools are free to choose how they organise their school day, as long as they teach the content of National Curriculum programmes of study to all pupils.

The National Curriculum provides an outline of core knowledge around which schools can create exciting and stimulating lessons to develop pupils’ knowledge, understanding and skills as part of the wider school curriculum.

The new Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum provides guidance for early education and learning and is the first stage of the National Curriculum. It focuses on the distinct needs of children aged 0 to 5, or the end of the reception year, in primary schools. The Early Years Foundation Stage provides an outline for practitioners working across this age range in, for example pre-schools, children’s centres, childminder networks, nursery and reception classes and private day nurseries.

The National Curriculum caters for four key stages in a pupil’s life and is based around twelve subjects classified as ‘core’ and ‘other foundation’ subjects:

  • Key Stage 1: age 5 - 7
  • Key Stage 2: age 7 - 11
  • Key Stage 3: age 11 - 13/14
  • Key Stage 4: age 13/14 - 16

Information about the primary curriculum is available from the National Curriculum website (primary).

There is a wider range of provision for young people aged 11-16 including academic, vocational and work-based learning pathways.

Useful websites