Explain What Is Meant by the Term National Curriculum.

The National Curriculum is a legal requirement and is compulsory to all school children aged 5-16 years, in both private and public run schools.   It states that all children must receive a full time education that is age appropriate, and that they are capable of understanding.   It should be a balanced education that is mentally challenging, taking into account pupils that may need extra time and help.  

The National Curriculum is a programme of subjects that pupils must be taught at specific times during their time at school and it is the structure that is used by schools to ensure the pupils receive a balanced and consistent education. This means that pupils have a varied education (including English, Mathematics, Science, RE and PE) that is fair and wide-ranging.   This should promote not only mental and physical development, but also spiritual, cultural and moral development.   The National Curriculum states that schools should prepare pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life.

The National Curriculum sets the subjects and topics that are taught in schools.   It sets the level of knowledge, skills and ability that are required for each subject, and also how performance is accessed and reported.   It also ensures that teachers are aware of standards and targets, meaning that they are able to measure pupils’ progress.

There are four key stages – key stage 1 which is ages 5-7, key stage 2, ages 7-11 – these two are normally taught in primary schools, and then key stage 3, ages 11-14 and key stage 4, which is 14-16 years and these two are normally taught in secondary schools.     Each of these stages determines what the pupils are taught.   Within each stage the National Curriculum provides the following:

• A programme of study that sets out what needs to be taught in each subject, therefore providing a basis for planning schemes of work
• Schemes of work which show how the programme can be used in practical and manageable...