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National Curriculum

Intended outcomes of the secondary curriculum

The aim is to develop a coherent 11-19 curriculum that builds on young people's experiences in the primary phase and that helps all young people to become successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens.

Specifically, the curriculum is intended to help young people to:

  • achieve high standards and make better progress

  • narrow the gap and enable those not achieving age-related expectations at age 11 to catch up with their peers

  • have and be able to use high-quality personal, learning and thinking skills (PLTS) and become independent learners

  • have and be able to use high-quality functional skills

  • be challenged and stretched to achieve their potential

  • have increased commitment to and enjoyment of learning leading to participation to 19 and beyond.

The secondary curriculum is part of a wider set of 11-19 reforms including diplomas, new A–levels and GCSEs, and the foundation learning tier. The 11-19 reform programme as a whole should lead to a range of improved outcomes for young people and the curriculum is one of the underpinning reforms rather than contributing directly to any one outcome. Taken together, these reforms are intended to have a number of broad impacts on young people, as set out in the DCSF 14-19 benefits management system:

  • Participation: all young people participating in the right learning route for them

  • Achievement: all young people achieving good levels of skills and developing the skills that they will need in adulthood and employment

  • Progression: all young people progressing at 16 and at 19 to the right destination for them.

Impact of the curriculum reforms

The impact of the reforms is being evaluated to inform future support for curriculum implementation and development. Key elements of this are set out in the 'evaluating your curriculum' section of this website so that schools can select and focus on their own priorities and access the support and guidance they need to take the next steps.


The new key stage 3 programmes of study are to be implemented as follows:

Year 7 from September 2008

Year 8 from September 2009

Year 9 from September 2010

Attainment targets are to be used for assessment from 2011.

The requirements for key stage 4 will come into force as the new GCSE qualifications in the relevant subjects begin. Citizenship and PE begin implementation in 2009 and English, mathematics and ICT in 2010.

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