Independent Review of the Primary Curriculum


Jim RoseI was very pleased to be asked by Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, to carry out an independent review of the primary curriculum in England.

The Review has tried to capture the distinctiveness of the primary phase. The curriculum that primary children are offered must enable them to enjoy this unique stage of childhood, inspire learning and develop the knowledge, skills and understanding which are the building blocks for secondary education and later life.

The final report was published on 30 April 2009. It also includes the proposed programmes of learning that would make up a new curriculum and the Essentials for Learning and Life that will be developed throughout the curriculum. The Review has sought to reduce prescription and content so that schools have greater flexibility to shape how it is taught and to supplement it to meet local circumstances and pupils’ individual needs.

The final report builds on the interim report, and draws on a substantial evidence base to make recommendations on addressing the issues outlined in the remit of this Review.

The Review has sought to address two central questions:

  • What should the primary curriculum contain?

  • How should the content and the teaching of it change to foster children’s different and developing abilities during primary education?

The key features of the primary curriculum put forward by this Review are:

  • Recognising the continuing importance of subjects and the essential knowledge, skills and understanding they represent.

  • Providing a stronger focus on curriculum progression.

  • Strengthening the focus on ensuring, that by the age of seven, children have a secure grasp of the literacy and numeracy skills they need to make good progress thereafter. 

  • Strengthening the teaching and learning of ICT to enable them to be independent and confident users of technology by the end of primary education.

  • Providing a greater emphasis on personal development through a more integrated and simpler framework for schools. 

  • Building stronger links between the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1, and between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3. in offering exciting opportunities for learning languages for 7-11 year olds.


The views of parents were sought during visits to schools and through commissioned surveys, with the findings published. It was apparent that a guide to the primary curriculum, in plain language, would be of considerable help to parents and enable them to give more support at home for their children’s learning at school.


The Review began in the spring term 2008. An interim report was published on 8 December 2008. The final report was published on 30 April 2009, and will be followed by a 12-week statutory consultation. From January 2010, the DCSF and QCA will offer guidance, and exemplification through case studies and other materials to help schools introduce the new primary curriculum from September 2011.


On the Department’s behalf, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) will be holding a public consultation on the proposals set out in this report. The consultation will begin on 30 April and close on 23 July 2009. The feedback will be used by the Government to inform final decisions about the primary curriculum. The consultation can be accessed from


I wish to thank all those who have contributed to the review, especially the schools which have welcomed visits by the review team, demonstrating the best of primary education. These visits, alongside the extensive consultation with parents, the school workforce, pupils, subject specialists and researchers have been essential in developing the Review’s recommendations. The full references can be found in the report.
I asked for responses to the interim report and an analysis of these submissions has been compiled.  A supporting paper by BECTA , the government technology agency, also helped develop the final report.

Jim Rose
April 2009

Share this information?