School effectiveness

Secondary curriculum

All local-authority-maintained schools in England must teach the national curriculum programmes of study (GOV.UK).

The majority of this national curriculum was introduced in September 2014. The exceptions are English, mathematics and science.

English and mathematics came into force for pupils in years 2, 6 and 10 in September 2015, and will apply to pupils in year 11 from September 2016.

The science curriculum will come into force for year 10 pupils in September 2016, and year 11 pupils in September 2017.

Secondary national curriculum

Information, resources and links on the current and new secondary national curriculum are available on the gov.uk website:
Secondary national curriculum (GOV.UK)

The DfE has published new subject content and assessment objectives for teaching from September 2015 for:
GCSE mathematics (GOV.UK)
GCSE English language (GOV.UKe)
GCSE English literature (GOV.UK)

Ealing CPD

Ealing offers network and training sessions to support schools with understanding and implementing the national curriculum.

Further information is available on Ealing CPD online.

Consultancy and support

Ealing LA offers a range of services to support primary schools.

Further information is available on the service page: school improvement support services for high schools.

Curriculum subjects

Key stage 3

Compulsory national curriculum subjects at secondary schools at key stage 3 are:

  • English
  • maths
  • science
  • history
  • geography
  • modern foreign languages
  • design and technology
  • art and design
  • music
  • physical education
  • citizenship
  • information and communication technology (ICT)

Schools can develop their own ICT curricula or follow the programmes of study.

They must also provide religious education (RE) and sex education from key stage 3 but parents can ask for their children to be taken out of the whole lesson or part of it.

Key stage 4

During key stage 4 most pupils work towards national qualifications - usually GCSEs.

The compulsory national curriculum subjects are the 'core' and 'foundation' subjects:

Core subjects are:

  • English
  • maths
  • science

Foundation subjects are:

  • information and communication technology (ICT)
  • physical education
  • citizenship

Schools must also offer at least one subject from each of these areas:

  • arts
  • design and technology
  • humanities
  • modern foreign languages

They must also provide religious education (RE) and sex education at key stage 4.

Further information on the primary curriculum subjects and assessments are available on the gov.uk website:
The national curriculum - key stages 3 and 4 (GOV.UK website)

Key stage 5 / sixth form

Key stage 5 covers school and college post 16 assessment (GOV.UK website)

Key stage 5 are the two years of education for students aged 16-18, or at sixth form, aligning with previous key stages as labelled for the national curriculum.

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Last updated: 14 Mar 2017