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National Curriculum


Our frequently asked questions for the new primary curriculum can be found in Your questions answered.

Our other frequently asked questions are listed below:

When are schools expected to start delivering the new secondary curriculum?

Changes to the key stage 3 curriculum will be phased in over a three year period, becoming statutory for year 7 pupils in September 2008. From September 2009, the new curriculum will apply to all year 7 and year 8 pupils, and from September 2010 it will apply across years 7, 8 and 9. 

Changes to the key stage 4 curriculum begin rolling out in September 2009. The timetable for implementation can be found here.

What has happened to the schemes of work?

We are not revising the schemes of work to match the new programmes of study. The revisions to the programme of study afford greater flexibility and encourage schools to improve coherence across the curriculum and to make connections between subjects, so that they can create a curriculum designed for their own particular needs and circumstances. Producing specific schemes of work, can, in some cases, stifle this flexible approach. That is not to say, of course, that the current schemes of work are redundant. Many schools have selected parts of the schemes of work they feel are most appropriate for their learners.

The Secondary National Strategies (SNS) help schools to target their planning to meet the needs of their pupils using the framework of learning objectives. Frameworks for English, mathematics, science and ICT are now available here to help teachers plan their schemes of work for the new programme of study.

The programmes of study set out the statutory requirements for what must be taught within a key stage. The framework provides guidance about how this can be achieved, broken down by year.

Is there any guidance on adjusting the curriculum in terms of inclusion?

Statutory and non-statutory guidance on inclusion can be found here.

Why have the statutory entitlements for key stage 4 science not been revised?

The requirements for key stage 4 science were developed in September 2007. All other statutory programmes have been revised for implementation in September 2008.

Where can I find guidance on implementing the new curriculum?

Guidance for curriculum design and implementation is provided on the curriculum website in two sections:

Designing your curriculum

Evaluating your curriculum

What has happened to national curriculum levels 1 to 3?

Levels 1 to 3 remain the same and can still be used for students achieving below level 4. The level descriptions are available from the current primary handbook and on this website within each subject area.

Levels 4 to 8 and exceptional performance have been amended to reflect changes in the revised programmes of study at key stages 3 and 4. These new level descriptions should be used with year 7 pupils from September 2008.

What will schools be expected to report at the end of key stage 3 for each subject?

Schools will be expected to report against attainment targets for each subject at the end of key stage 3. In 2009/10 these will be the current attainment targets, changing in 2011 to new attainment targets based around the new programmes of study. As the changes are rolling out year-on-year, the first end of key stage tests based on the new programmes of study will be in 2011.

Will schools be expected to assess and report on the personal, learning and thinking skills for each individual subject or across all subjects?

There is no statutory requirement to report in relation to personal, learning and thinking skills (PLTS) and there are no attainment targets for this. However, we expect all young people to develop such skills throughout all aspects of their work. All programmes of study for the curriculum at key stages 3 and 4 have statements relating to each of the PLTS that also describe effective curriculum opportunities.

Further guidance and support is provided in the skills section of the website, where you can see how other schools have embedded PLTS into their curriculum.

Where can I find information about the early years foundation stage?

For information on the early years foundation stage contact Sure Start or the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Is there a statutory requirement for how much time schools should allocate to teaching each curriculum subject?

QCA does not set time allocations for subjects. There are however, national targets for literacy, numeracy, PE and sport, and culture. Schools should determine the time allocation that most appropriately meets the needs of their learners, guided by these targets. For further information, contact the Department for Children, Schools and Families or the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

When is the food technology entitlement due to be implemented?

The national curriculum requirements relating to food technology will remain as they are in the revised programme of study for design and technology, to be implemented from September 2008. Food technology will become a compulsory component of the design and technology programme of study from September 2011.

Every secondary school pupil, however, has an entitlement to cook. Further details of this can be found here.

Is religious education statutory or non-statutory?

RE is a statutory subject and should be taught in all schools. The legal document for RE in maintained community schools and voluntary controlled schools is the local agreed syllabus. The QCA programmes of study, based on the non-statutory national framework for RE, are non-statutory only in the sense that schools are not obliged to base their RE on it, although many do. Academies should teach RE according to their funding agreement. Many of them use the local agreed syllabus or the QCA programmes of study.

Voluntary aided schools and academies with a religious designation must follow the syllabus approved by the relevant religious authority.

Does QCA provide speakers for events about the curriculum?

QCA considers requests to speak on curriculum related issues case-by-case. To request a speaker download and complete this form and email it to

Where can I find the big picture presentation by Mick Waters?

You can see a flash animation of Mick Waters explaining the big picture of the curriculum and download a PDF version of the document here.

Where can I get permission to use the national curriculum logo?

QCA licences appropriate use of the national curriculum logo in some instances. Please contact QCA giving further information about how and why you wish to use the logo, and we will consider your request.

Has the requirement to teach about the Holocaust been removed from the curriculum?

The requirement for all schools to teach about the Holocaust at key stage 3 has not been removed, nor are there any plans to remove it. The requirement is also included in the new secondary curriculum, with first teaching from 2008.

QCA has published guidance for schools in the form of a scheme of work on the Holocaust which is available on the DCSF Standards website. This can still be used in line with the new programmes of study.

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