The National Curriculum

The National Curriculum covers learning for all children aged 5 — 18 in state schools.

The National Curriculum is set by the government and specifies:

  • Which subjects should be taught
  • The knowledge, skills and understanding children should achieve in each subject
  • Targets — so teachers can measure how well every child is doing in every subject by set ages
  • How information on children’s progress should be passed on to parents

It is split into four key stages’ not including the first foundation, or reception year. Primary school consists of Key Stages (KS) 1 and 2.


State schools maintained by the local authority (commonly known as Maintained Schools) have to teach the National Curriculum, which includes these subjects. 

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science
  • Computing
  • Physical Education
  • Geography
  • History
  • Music
  • Art & Design
  • Design & Technology
  • Relationships Education
  • Religious Education
  • Welsh (Wales only)

Curriculum in other schools

Other state-funded schools such as academies and free schools, which are independent of Local Authority control, as well as fee-paying and private schools, can teach the National Curriculum or set their own.

If they’re setting their own it must:

  • Promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society
  • Prepare pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life
  • Include key subjects such as English, maths, science and religious education
  • Not replace science topics such as evolutionary biology with religious alternatives
  • Include relationships education. Sex education is not compulsory

You’ll be able to find the curriculum for your child’s school on the school website.