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National curriculum for 5-11 years: Key Stages 1 and 2

National Curriculum subjects

The National Curriculum, taught to all pupils in state or maintained schools, is made up of blocks of years, known as key stages:

  • Year 1 and Year 2 of primary school are known as Key Stage 1
  • Years 3 to 6 of primary school are known as Key Stage 2

Compulsory National Curriculum subjects are the same for Key Stages 1 and 2:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science
  • Design and technology
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
  • History
  • Geography
  • Art and design
  • Music
  • Physical education

Schools also have to teach religious education, though parents have the right to withdraw children for all or part of the religious education curriculum. In addition, schools are advised to teach personal, social and health education (PSHE) and citizenship, together with at least one modern foreign language.

Your child’s school may cover these subjects under different names, and may teach more than one subject together under the same name. This is left up to individual schools, as long as they are covering the National Curriculum.

National Curriculum levels

At Key Stages 1, 2, and 3, the National Curriculum is accompanied by a series of eight levels. These are used to measure your child's progress compared to pupils of the same age across the country.

All schools assess pupils’ progress during the school year, though some make more frequent use of the National Curriculum levels than others. You'll receive information about the level your child has reached at parent-teacher evenings and in their school reports.

Your child will be formally assessed at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2. At the end of Key Stage 1, the teacher’s assessment of your child’s progress will take account of their performance in several tasks and tests in English and maths.

At the end of Key Stage 2, your child will take national tests in English, maths and science.  You will be sent their test results and their teacher’s assessment of their progress.

By the end of Key Stage 1, most children will have reached level 2, and by the end of Key Stage 2 most will be at level 4.

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