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What is Taught in Schools and When?

In the countries of the UK teaching in schools follows set curricula. These guide teachers to ensure that basic components of maths, English and reading are taught, together with sciences and history. The content of the curriculum will vary depending on what part of the UK you are from.

To find out more about the curriculum where you are, please see your location below.


The English National Curriculum

What is the National Curriculum?

Prior to 1988, when the National Curriculum was first introduced, schools had the freedom to decide what would be taught, guided mainly by the requirements of examinations and employers. Religious education (RE) was the only compulsory subject in schools.
The National Curriculum was designed to fulfil four main purposes:

  1. to ensure that every child, irrespective of social background, culture, race, gender, differences in ability and disabilities received the same education entitlement
  2. to set down standards against which every child’s progress could be measured,
  3. to ensure continuity between one school and the next
  4. to establish an education system that could be clearly understood by all

Every state school is now required by law to deliver the National Curriculum, but whilst advice and guidance in the form of strategies, frameworks, programmes of study and schemes of work is provided, schools remain free to plan and organise teaching and learning in the way that best meets the needs of their pupils.

How does the National Curriculum work?

The National Curriculum sets out:

  • What subjects will be taught at each Key Stage in the education system
  • The knowledge, skills and understanding required in each subject
  • The levels of attainment in each subject – these can be used to measure children’s progress and plan the next steps in their learning
  • How schools will assess children’s progress and report to central government and to parents


What are Key Stages?

The term ‘Key Stages’ refers to the different stages of education.
Schools commonly identify four ‘Key Stages’ as well as an ‘Early Years Foundation Stage’ (children before they reach the compulsory school age).


CurrentUsed to be
Early Years Foundation StageNursery and ReceptionNursery school and reception class in Infant school
Key Stage 1Year one and twoInfants
Key Stage 2Years three to sixJuniors
Key Stage 3Years seven to nineSecondary school (first 3 years)
Key Stage 4Years ten and elevenSecondary school (to GCSE)


How do The Student Support Centre programmes support the National Curriculum?

Our ‘simply’ programmes are based on the requirements of the Foundation Stage and National Curriculum for maths and English. They provide short, clear lessons written and presented by highly qualified professionals. The ‘simply’ programmes are specifically designed to support and consolidate learning for children from Foundation stage to Key Stage 4.

The programmes provide home-based tuition and support for children aged between 4 and 17 and are a more cost effective alternative to private maths tutors for learning maths and English tutors for learning English.

The Scottish Curriculum

According to the ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ website

The Curriculum for Excellence sets out ‘Guidance on how and what children and young people learn from the early years to the end of S3 is presented through experiences and outcomes’ and ‘includes all of the experiences which are planned for children and young people’.

Who does the Curriculum for Excellence apply to?

‘Curriculum for Excellence aims to achieve a transformation in education in Scotland by providing a coherent, more flexible and enriched curriculum from 3 to 18.’

What will be taught?

The curriculum includes all of the experiences which are planned for children and young people. A full set of experiences and outcomes are set out outlining what should be covered in each subject area.

What are the ‘expected’ levels of achievement?

The experiences and outcomes under Curriculum for Excellence are written at five levels, with progression to qualifications described under the senior phase.

LevelAchieved by ..
EarlyThe end of pre-school years and P1 (or later for some).
FirstThe end of P4 (but earlier or later for some).
SecondThe end of P7 (but earlier or later for some).
Third and FourthS1 to S3, but earlier for some. The fourth level broadly equates to Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework level 4.
Senior phaseS4 to S6, and college or other means of study.
Student Support

Not all children progress at the same rate. Sometimes children need a little helping hand. This programme is that helping hand.

John Thomson, B.Ed Hons, M.Ed, M.Sc, D.A.S.E., Headteacher
Student Support

This package is superb, it is set out at a comfortable pace and is taught in a simplified manner. There were some early building blocks that our children had missed due to changes within the school. This was causing issues as the topics got more advanced. In only six weeks we could see the gaps starting to be filled and have already had positive feedback from the school.

Jason, Stevenage - April 2016