The National Curriculum is a framework which sets out the most important skills and knowledge that children are
expected to learn from ages 5 to 16. It provides a framework for teachers and standards so that teachers can see
how well children are doing and help them to do better. It also describes how children's progress should be
assessed. One benefit is that children moving area should be able to adapt to a new school more easily, without
missing anything crucial or having to cover topics more than once.
The Education Reform Act in 1988 resulted in the National Curriculum being launched at all state schools in
England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Initially, the guidance covered only part of the teaching time, but over the
years the requirements have grown to cover virtually all teaching hours. Independent schools do not have to follow
the National Curriculum.
In Key Stage 1 and 2 (five to eleven year-olds), the National Curriculum covers:
In addition, schools also have to teach Religious Education. Most will also teach personal, social and health
education, some citizenship and maybe a modern foreign language. Subjects can be combined and taught together, or
covered over a period of time, such as half a term of geography followed by half a term of history.
Schools in Wales are required to teach the Welsh language as part of the National Curriculum, in addition to all
the other subjects.