Curriculum

The 2014 national curriculum: what primary school parents need to know

 

Why the big curriculum change in 2014?

The main aim was to raise standards, particularly as the UK is slipping down international student assessment league tables. Inspired by what is taught in the world’s most successful school systems, including Hong Kong, Singapore and Finland, as well as in the best UK schools, it’s designed to produce productive, creative and well educated students. 

Although the new curriculum is intended to be more challenging, the content is actually slimmer than the current curriculum, focusing on essential core subject knowledge and skills such as essay writing and computer programming. It also follows on from similar curriculum revamps in Scotland and Wales, which were implemented in 2010 and 2008 respectively and have a similar focus on excellence and core skills.

Do all primary schools follow the 2014 curriculum?

No – academies and free schools are exempt. This is partly because these schools need more flexibility in what they teach (for example, in the case of faith schools that have a strong emphasis on religious education), but many critics think that the government is using the lure of not having to follow the national curriculum to encourage more schools to become academies. Academies and free schools do, however, still have to teach a balanced and broadly based curriculum that includes English, maths, science and RE.

What are the main changes?

The table below summarises the main changes in the core subjects covered by the National Curriculum.

 

Subject

 

What was new in 2014?

 

English

 

 

 

 

  • Stronger emphasis on vocabulary development, grammar, punctuation and spelling (for example, the use of commas and apostrophes will be taught in KS1)
  • Handwriting – not currently assessed under the national curriculum – is expected to be fluent, legible and speedy
  • Spoken English has a greater emphasis, with children to be taught debating  and presenting skills

 

Maths

 

 

 

 

 

  • Five-year-olds will be expected to learn to count up to 100 (compared to 20 under the current curriculum) and learn number bonds to 20 (currently up to 10)
  • Simple fractions (1/4 and 1/2) will be taught from KS1, and by the end of primary school, children should be able to convert decimal fractions to simple fractions (e.g. 0.375 = 3/8)
  • By the age of nine, children will be expected to know times tables up to 12x12 (currently 10x10 by the end of primary school)
  • Calculators will not be introduced until near the end of KS2, to encourage mental arithmetic

 

Science

 

 

 

 

  • Strong focus on scientific knowledge and language, rather than understanding the nature and methods of science in abstract terms
  • Evolution will be taught in primary schools for the first time
  • Non-core subjects like caring for animals will be replaced by topics like the human circulatory system

 

Design & technology

 

 

 

 

  • Afforded greater importance under the new curriculum, setting children on the path to becoming the designers and engineers of the future
  • More sophisticated use of design equipment such as electronics and robotics
  • In KS2, children will learn about how key events and individuals in design and technology have shaped the world

 

ICT

 

 

 

 

 

Languages

 

 

 

  • Currently not statutory, a modern foreign language or ancient language (Latin or Greek) will be mandatory in KS2
  • Children will be expected to master basic grammar and accurate pronunciation and to converse, present, read and write in the language