What are the main changes?
The aim is to slim down the content of the curriculum in almost all subjects, though not in primary English, maths or science.
The government says the new curriculum does not tell teachers “how to teach”, but concentrates on “the essential knowledge and skills every child should have” so that teachers “have the freedom to to shape the curriculum to their pupils’ needs”.
The new curriculum covers primary school pupils, aged five to 11, and secondary schools pupils up to the age of 14.
A new curriculum for 15- and 16-year-olds will come into force from September 2015.
Which subjects are affected?
There are changes to the content of all subjects in the national curriculum. A summary can be found on the Department for Education website.
- In maths, children will be expected to learn more at an earlier age – for example to know their 12 times table by the age of nine
- History will take a more chronological approach than under the old curriculum
- In English, pupils will learn more Shakespeare and there will be more importance placed on spelling
- The new computing curriculum will require pupils to learn how to write code
- In science, there will be a shift towards hard facts and “scientific knowledge”
How were the decisions on the curriculum changes made?
The government appointed a panel of experts, which included subject specialists and teachers, to devise the new curriculum.
Their brief was to emulate the world’s most successful school systems, including those in Hong Kong, Singapore, the Canadian state of Alberta and the US state of Massachusetts, in international tests.
The aim was to combine best international practice with best practice from schools in England.
The government says the curriculum has a strong focus on basic skills “plus real freedom for teachers to decide how best to teach”.
It says it wants pupils to leave school with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the real world.
How is the national curriculum organised?
The reorganisation does not include any changes to the four key stages in England. These are:
- Key Stage 1: Ages five to seven (Years 1-2)
- Key Stage 2: Ages seven to 11 (Years 3-6)
- Key Stage 3: Ages 11-14 (Years 7-9)
- Key Stage 4: Ages 14-16 (Years 10-11)
- Key Stage 5: Ages 16-19 (Years 12-13)
The new curriculum also retains the main subject areas – English, maths, sciences, history, geography, art, modern foreign languages, et cetera.
Download a copy of the 2014 Primary National Curriculum
Primary National Curriculum