1. Overview

The ‘basic’ school curriculum includes the ‘national curriculum’, religious education and sex education.

The national curriculum is a set of subjects and standards used by primary and secondary schools so children learn the same things. It covers what subjects are taught and the standards children should reach in each subject.

Other types of school like academies and private schools don’t have to follow the national curriculum. Academies must teach a broad and balanced curriculum including English, maths and science. They must also teach religious education.

Key stages

The national curriculum is organised into blocks of years called ‘key stages’ (KS). At the end of each key stage, your child’s teacher will formally assess their performance to measure your child’s progress.

Age Year Key stage Assessment Average level of attainment
3 to 4   Early years    
4 to 5 Reception Early years    
5 to 6 Year 1 KS1 Phonics screening check  
6 to 7 Year 2 KS1 Teacher assessments in English, maths and science 2
7 to 8 Year 3 KS2    
8 to 9 Year 4 KS2    
9 to 10 Year 5 KS2    
10 to 11 Year 6 KS2 National tests and teacher assessments in English, maths and science 4
11 to 12 Year 7 KS3 Teacher assessments  
12 to 13 Year 8 KS3 Teacher assessments  
13 to 14 Year 9 KS3 Teacher assessments 5/6
14 to 15 Year 10 KS4 Some children take GCSEs  
15 to 16 Year 11 KS4 Most children take GCSEs or other national qualifications  

Levels of attainment

For each subject there’s a ‘programme of study’. It describes what children should learn. There are also ‘attainment targets’ - usually split into 8 levels for each subject. You’ll get a school report at the end of the year telling you what level your child is at. Read more about what children will learn.

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