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UK Curriculum and Key Stages

From the ages of five through to eighteen, education is compulsory for all children in England and Wales.

The subject matter studied by pupils is based around the four Key Stages (or KS) of the National Curriculum.

The Key Stages

Schools in England are usually divided into the the following key stages:

  • Nursery and Reception Years (3-5 years old). More commonly known as the Early Years Foundations Stage (EYFS)
  • Key Stage 1: Years 1 to 2 (5-7 years old)
  • Key Stage 2: Years 3 to 6 (7-11 years old)
  • Key Stage 3: Years 7 to 9 (11-14 years old)
  • Key Stage 4: Years 10 to 11 (14-16 years old)
  • Key Stage 5: More commonly referred to as College or Sixth Form. Covers Years 12 to 13 (16-18 years old). Subjects at this level are more tailored to each student’s further education

The National Curriculum

In England and Wales the national curriculum must be taught in all local-authority-maintained schools. Other schools, such as academies and free schools, are able to opt out of following the national curriculum should they wish to, although academies must teach a broad and balanced curriculum and include english, maths and science.

The National Curriculum sets out programmes of study and attainment targets for all subjects in all key stages, with the exceptions of English, Mathematics and Science.  Some subjects are newly included into the curriculum for certain key stages – for example English and Mathematics, which will be taught to Year 11 pupils from September 2016. The Science curriculum will be taught from September 2016 for Year 10 students, and from September 2017 for Year 11 students.

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