Subject Requirements

The National Curriculum applies to pupils of compulsory school age in community and foundation schools, including community special schools and foundation special schools, and voluntary aided and voluntary controlled schools. It is organised on the basis of four key stages.

  • Key stage 1: Ages 5-7 (Years 1-2)
  • Key stage 2: Ages 7-11 (Years 3-6)
  • Key stage 3: Ages 11-14 (Years 7-9)
  • Key stage 4: Ages 14-16 (Years 10-11)

At key stages 1 and 2 the statutory subjects that all pupils must study are art and design, design and technology, English, geography, history, information and communication technology, mathematics, music, physical education and science. Religious education must also be provided at key stages 1 and 2.

For each subject and for each key stage, programmes of study set out what pupils should be taught, and attainment targets set out the expected standards of pupils’ performance. It is for schools to choose how they organise their school curriculum to include the programmes of study.

Setting suitable learning challenges

The programmes of study (as defined by the Education Act 1996, section 353b) set out what pupils should be taught in each subject at each key stage, and provide the basis for planning schemes of work. When planning, schools should also consider the four general teaching requirements (use of language, use of ICT and health and safety and inclusion) that apply across the programmes of study.