For generations, parents have found themselves visiting primary schools with their
children only to hear themselves saying, “It’s not like when I was at school.”
Things change quickly in education, and at no time in the past 25 years has that
been truer than September 2014 when the whole school curriculum changed for
maintained schools throughout England.
This guide is intended to support parents of primary school children. Obviously it would
be impossible to set out in detail everything your child would learn during their six years
of statutory primary education, but by providing an outline of typical content and some
background information about how the curriculum and assessment works, hopefully it
will help parents support their children in making the most of their education.
English, Maths and Science remain very important and are considered the core subjects
in both primary and secondary education. The National Curriculum sets out in some detail
what must be taught in each of these subjects, and they will take up a substantial part of
your child’s learning week. Alongside these are the familiar foundation subjects: Art, Computing,
Design & Technology, Foreign Languages (age 7+ only), Geography, History, Music, and Physical
Education. For these foundation subjects, the details in the curriculum are significantly briefer: schools
have much more flexibility regarding what they cover in these subjects.
Much of the publicity about the changes to the curriculum has focussed on ‘higher expectations’
in various subjects, and it is certainly the case that in some areas the content of the new primary
curriculum is significantly more demanding than in the past. For example, in mathematics there is
now much greater focus on the skills of arithmetic and also on working with fractions. In science,
a new unit of work on evolution is introduced for Year 6, work which would have previously been
studied in secondary school. In English lessons there will now be more attention paid to the study
of grammar and spelling, an area which was far less notable in previous curricula.
If your child is achieving well, rather than moving on to the following year group’s work many
schools will encourage more in-depth and investigative work to allow a greater mastery and
understanding of concepts and ideas.
New tests will be produced for the summer of 2016 to assess work from the new curriculum.
Tests your child will take
Lots of schools use tests at all stages of their work. For the most part, these are part of a normal
classroom routine, and support teachers’ assessment. However, at certain stages of schooling there
are also national tests which must be taken by all children in state schools. Often informally known
as ‘SATs’, the National Curriculum Tests are compulsory for children at the end of Year 2 and Year 6.
Children in these year groups will undertake tests in Reading, Mathematics, and Grammar, Punctuation & Spelling.
The tests will be sent away for marking, and results will be reported to schools and parents at the end of the year.
The new National Curriculum Tests for children in Year 2 and Year 6 will take place each summer from 2016.
Schools may also choose to have internal tests for other year groups around the same time.
Where previously these tests – and other teacher assessments – were graded in levels (normally
numbering between Level 1 and Level 6 in primary school), from 2016 the tests will be reported as
a scaled score, with a score of 100 representing the expected level for each age group. Schools will
provide accompanying information to parents to explain how children are progressing – it makes
attending those parents’ evenings all the more important!
Using this guide
The content in this guide is set out – based on the National Curriculum – in year groups. However,
all schools are different: some have mixed year groups, some may only have one or two classes overall.
Consequently, schools are allowed to reorganise content between year groups as long as the material is
covered by the end of primary school. Schools may therefore make some changes to the teaching sequence
set out here – check your child’s school’s website for details on how they organise their curriculum.
For more information on the National Curriculum please visit www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-curriculum