Please note: This remit was published in January 2011 and does not reflect changes announced by the Secretary of State on 19 December 2011.

In the light of the far-reaching and complex nature of the Expert Panel recommendations, and to allow for more radical reform of both curriculum and qualifications, the Secretary of State has decided to change the planned timetable for the introduction of the new National Curriculum. Instead of new curricula for English, mathematics, science and PE being introduced from 2013, and any other subjects in 2014, the new curriculum for all subjects will now be introduced in 2014.

Context

  1. The Government set out in the Coalition Agreement its commitment to give schools greater freedom over the curriculum. As part of that commitment, the Government has announced proposals for a systematic and comprehensive review of the National Curriculum in England for 5- to 16-year-olds.
  2. It is important to distinguish between the National Curriculum and the wider school curriculum. The National Curriculum was originally envisaged as a guide to study in key subjects which would give parents and teachers confidence that students were acquiring the knowledge necessary at every level of study to make appropriate progress. As it has developed, the National Curriculum has come to cover more subjects, prescribe more outcomes and take up more school time than originally intended. It is the Government's intention that the National Curriculum be slimmed down so that it properly reflects the body of essential knowledge which all children should learn and does not absorb the overwhelming majority of teaching time in schools. Individual schools should have greater freedom to construct their own programmes of study in subjects outside the National Curriculum and develop approaches to learning and study which complement it.
  3. The new National Curriculum will be developed in line with the Coalition Government’s stated principles of freedom, responsibility and fairness – to raise standards for all children. The National Curriculum should have the following aims at its heart:
    • to embody rigour and high standards and create coherence in what is taught in schools;
    • to ensure that all children have the opportunity to acquire a core of essential knowledge in the key subject disciplines; and
    • beyond that core, to allow teachers the freedom to use their professionalism and expertise in order to help all children realise their potential.
  4. The National Curriculum will continue to be a statutory requirement for maintained schools but will also retain its importance as a national benchmark of excellence for all schools, providing parents with an understanding of what their child should be expected to know at every stage in their school career.
  5. The work of the review will be managed by the Department for Education and will report to the Secretary of State for Education, who has statutory responsibility for the National Curriculum. The Secretary of State has appointed an Advisory Committee to guide the review and help to frame recommendations, which will be chaired by the Director-General for Education Standards in the Department. The Secretary of State has also asked Mr Tim Oates1 to lead an Expert Panel that will provide an evidence base for the review and will ensure that the construction and content of the new National Curriculum is based in evidence and informed by international best practice.
  6. The principal objectives for the review are to:
    • give teachers greater professional freedom over how they organise and teach the curriculum;
    • develop a National Curriculum that acts as a benchmark for all schools and provides young people with the knowledge they need to move confidently and successfully through their education, taking into account the needs of different groups including the most able and pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND);
    • ensure that the content of our National Curriculum compares favourably with the most successful international curricula in the highest performing jurisdictions, reflecting the best collective wisdom we have about how children learn and what they should know;
    • set rigorous requirements for pupil attainment, which measure up to those in the highest performing jurisdictions in the world;
    • enable parents to understand what their children should be learning throughout their school career and therefore to support their education.
  7. The review will also take into account the emerging conclusions of the review of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) to ensure a smooth transition from the EYFS to Key Stage 1.

1 Mr Oates will undertake this work on secondment from his current employer, Cambridge Assessment, where he holds the post of Director of Assessment Research and Development