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How does the National Curriculum Affect Primary Schools?

The National Curriculum, chosen by the Government, applies to all state primaries. It’s a set of guidelines telling schools the subject areas they must teach to children of different ages. It also decides how and when they should assess their pupils.

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You can find sets of enjoyable quizzes for all the required subjects  on the KS1 and KS2 areas of our website.

Most primary schools in the UK follow a set curriculum determined by the government, known as the National Curriculum. This article will delve into its implications for primary school students, highlighting the subjects taught and the associated assessments.

What is the National Curriculum?

Introduced in 1988, the National Curriculum is a directive for state schools in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It provides a structure, dictating which subjects and topics are to be taught to different age groups. Additionally, schools are tasked with evaluating their students' performance through national tests and teacher assessments.


Why do we have a National Curriculum?

The establishment of a unified curriculum ensures that students across England receive consistent education regardless of their school. This homogeneity facilitates easier monitoring of students' progress and achievements. Furthermore, if a child switches schools, the consistent curriculum ensures a seamless educational journey without any knowledge gaps.


Do all Schools Follow the National Curriculum?

While state primary and secondary schools are mandated to follow the National Curriculum, academies, free schools, and private schools have the choice to opt out. Similarly, homeschooling is not bound by this curriculum. Despite this, many schools voluntarily adhere to the National Curriculum to maintain a standard learning framework and to compare academic outcomes with other institutions.

For those considering homeschooling, our Home-Schooling guide might be of interest. Currently, of the 16,766 primary schools, 2,440 are academies. The goal is to transition all schools into academies by 2020.

However, whether a school follows the National Curriculum or not, the law requires them to offer a broad and balanced curriculum to all students.


What Subjects are Covered in Primary Schools?

The National Curriculum divides primary education into two key stages: KS1 (ages 5-7) and KS2 (ages 7-11). Both stages encompass subjects like English, Maths, and Science. Other areas include Art and Design, Computing, Design and Technology, Geography, History, Languages (only KS2), Music, and Physical Education.

The curriculum emphasizes building foundational knowledge and skills in English, Maths, and Science since these subjects are the core elements of a student's academic journey.

Interactive quizzes play a key role in enhancing the learning experience, making subjects more engaging and enjoyable for students. For more details, check our Primary School Quizzes section.

Assessments and Tests

Assessments are vital components of the National Curriculum. They aim to track a student's progress and help in identifying areas of improvement. Primary school students undergo two major national assessments:

  1. KS1 SATs: Administered at the end of Year 2, it tests students on Reading, Maths, and Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar.
  2. KS2 SATs: Conducted at the end of Year 6, students are assessed in Reading, Maths, Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar.

Both these assessments play a crucial role in determining a student's readiness for the subsequent phase of their educational journey.


The National Curriculum ensures that students in primary schools across England receive a comprehensive and standardized education. While some schools have the option to opt-out, the majority see the benefits of a unified curriculum. With the right balance of subjects, teaching methodologies, and assessments, the National Curriculum aims to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge for their future endeavors.



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