UK Curriculum and Assessments


There is a very strict curriculum of study that applies to all state, primary and secondary schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They are required to follow the National Curriculum, which comprises of the following subjects: English, maths, science, ICT (Information and Computer Technology), DT (Design Technology), history, geography, modern foreign languages (French, Spanish, German being the primary options), art, PE (Physical Education), music and citizenship.  Additionally, some primary schools in Wales have all lessons taught in Welsh.

Schools in Scotland do not follow the exact same curriculum as pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but rather one informed by national guidance.

Additionally, while all British schools are required by law to provide RE (Religious Education) teaching to all pupils, parents have the option to withdraw their children from these classes.



The curriculum is divided into four stages, known as Key Stages.  At the end of each stage, pupils are tested (using Key Stage tests, which are also known as SATs).  See the table below to see when these take place:

Key Stage Tests
Key Stage Level Age of Testing
Key Stage 1 7
Key Stage 2 11
Key Stage 3 14
Key Stage 4 (aka GCSEs) 16

Please note that while GCSEs (General Certificates of Secondary Education) are the usual certificates awarded for the completion of Key Stage 4 in most subjects, some schools do offer other qualifications


In Wales, schools have abolished national tests for children at age 7 and 11, with plans currently in process to do the same for the Key Stage 3 tests at age 14.  However, a system of assessment and report is still in progress at ages 7 and 11 to monitor the progress and achievements of Welsh pupils.


The Scottish system of assessment is very different to that of other British countries, being divided into two phases.  The first lasts from the age of 5 to 14 for pupils, and is divided into six levels; from A to F.  Whole groups are not tested, as is the norm in England. Instead, teachers test individual children when they are ready..

Between the ages of 14 to 16, young people do Standard Grade, and once this is completed, they can study at either Intermediate, Higher or Advanced level.  Currently, there are plans to further up-heave the Scottish education system and introduce a single curriculum for all pupils from age 3 to age 18.