The national curriculum

The ‘basic’ school curriculum includes the ‘national curriculum’, as well as 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 do not 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, the teacher will formally assess your child’s performance.

Child's AgeSchool YearKey StageAssessment
3-4 Early years 
4-5ReceptionEarly yearsTeacher assessments (there is also an optional assessment at the start of the year)
5-6Year 1KS1Phonics screening check
6-7Year 2KS1National tests and teacher assessments in English, Maths and Science
7-8Year 3KS2 
8-9Year 4KS2 
9-10Year 5KS2 
10-11Year 6KS2National tests and teacher assessments in English and Maths, teacher assessments in Science
11-12Year 7KS3 
12-13Year 8KS3 
13-14Year 9KS3 
14-15Year 10KS4Some children take GCSEs
15-16Year 11KS4Most children take GCSEs or other national tests


By the end of each summer term the school must write a report on your child’s progress and talk it through with you.

See also:

For further information: