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National curriculum online


The national curriculum sets out the stages and core subjects your child will be taught throughout their school life. Children aged five to 16 in state or maintained schools must be taught according to the national curriculum.

The national curriculum is a framework used by all maintained schools to ensure that teaching and learning is balanced and consistent.

It sets out -

  • the subjects taught
  • the knowledge, skills and understanding required in each subject
  • standards or attainment targets in each subject that teachers can use to measure your child’s progress and plan their future learning
  • how your child’s progress is assessed and reported

The main aims of the national curriculum are to -

  • provide opportunities for all pupils to learn and achieve
  • promote pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, and prepare all pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life

Within the framework of the national curriculum, schools are free to plan and organise teaching and learning in the way that best meets their needs of their pupils. Many schools use the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) schemes of work to plan the curriculum. These provide a basis for delivering the national curriculum.

Visit the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) website (link opens in new window)

The national curriculum key stages

The national curriculum is organised into blocks of years called key stages. You can find out more about the key stages and what tests children take at different stages on the Directgov website.

Visit DirectGov for more information about key stages and tests (link opens in a new window)

Compulsory subjects

There are some subjects that young people at certain key stages must study.

Key stage 3 - ages 11-14
All students in state education are required to study -

  • English 
  • mathematics
  • science
  • ICT
  • geography
  • history
  • art and design 
  • design technology 
  • music
  • physical education
  • citizenship
  • careers education

A programme of sex education should also be provided, according to local policy.

Key stage 4 - ages 14-16
All students in state education are required to study -

  • English 
  • mathematics
  • science
  • ICT
  • physical education
  • citizenship
  • religious education
  • sex education
  • careers education

All students also undertake a programme of work-related learning.

Schools must provide religious education for all pupils, although parents can choose to withdraw their children from these classes.

Healthy schools

Many schools in Hull are part of the Hull healthy schools programme. This covers how schools educate pupils about -

  • personal, social and health education (PSHE), including sex and relationship education, drug education (including alcohol, tobacco and volatile substance misuse), road safety and environment education.
  • healthier eating
  • physical activity
  • emotional health and well-being (including bullying)

The award aims to help schools develop a caring and healthy environment, influencing every aspect of the school and its life. It provides a framework for schools to promote good health. The award can have a considerable impact on pupils' health, self-esteem, learning and achievements.

Sex and relationship education

All children of secondary school age must receive sex and relationship education at school. It is recommended that primary aged children also receive sex and relationship education, but the decisions to do this or not is made by the school's governing body.

The content should be based on a clear moral code and be appropriate for the pupils' age. The emphasis will be on the importance of relationships that should underpin sexual relationships. Older pupils will also be taught about contraception and sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Parents have the right to withdraw their children from sex and relationship education, but not any parts that come under national curriculum science.

Contact us

Children and young people's services
Brunswick House
Hull City Council
Strand Close
Beverley Road

Tel: 01482 300 300
Text phone: 01482 300 349

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