In 1988 the Education Reform Act introduced the National Curriculum into mainstream schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as there had been concerns about the variation of teaching and learning within schools across the country. Until this time schools were free to choose what was taught with only Religious Education being the only compulsory subject. When first introduced it was thought that a standard curriculum across the country would make it easier to teach what is appropriate for modern day society and to give all children better access to a higher level of education. To keep up with the ever changing world and our society the National Curriculum is ever evolving and in September 2000 the National Curriculum was revised yet again and will continue to be revised in the future.
All children from the age of 5 through to 16 in State schools in England and Wales are required by law to attend school and the National Curriculum sets out the legal statutory entitlement for their learning along with standards required along with how they will be assessed and reported on.
The aims of the National Curriculum are:
??? To give all children the opportunity to learn and achieve.
??? To help promote spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and prepares for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life.
??? To include, in addition to the National Curriculum, Religious Education as well and sex education for secondary schools.
Teachers when planning and teaching need to take into consideration the following:
??? To set pupils suitable learning challenges.
??? Take into consideration each pupils needs.
??? To help pupils overcome barriers to learning and assessment for individuals and groups such as pupils with SENS (Special Educational Needs), pupils with English as an additional language or pupils with disabilities.
The National Curriculum is set into four Key Stages and relates to the age of the pupils. Key Stage 1 and 2 are taught in Primary Schools, Key Stage 3 and 4 are taught in secondary Schools.
The Key stages are as follows:
Key Stage 1 Age 5 ??“ 7 Year Group 1 ??“ 2
Key Stage 2 Age 7 ??“ 11 Year Group 3 ??“ 6
Key Stage 3 Age 11 ??“ 14 Year Group 7 ??“ 9
Key Stage 4 Age 14 ??“ 16 Year Group 10 – 11
There are ten foundation subject taught under the National Curriculum, these are English, maths and science, which are the core subjects and art, design and technology, geography, history, music physical education and a foreign language, pupils are then assessed in accordance with specified attainment targets throughout each of the four key stages at the ages of 7, 11, 14 and 16. Children in Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 do not pass or fail but are assessed on their progress and understanding of the curriculum.
Independent schools are not required to follow the National Curriculum but many of these schools choose to be guided by its content.