School curriculum

Children aged four to 16 in grant-aided schools must follow the curriculum. The curriculum sets out they will be taught in stages at school.
For primary school children, their teacher must cover six subject areas. The post-primary curriculum builds on earlier learning and also develops children’s life and work skills.

Why schools follow the curriculum

All schools work to this programme to make sure every child receives a balanced, consistent education.

The curriculum sets out:

  • areas of learning to be taught
  • cross-curricular and other skills every pupil should develop
  • levels of knowledge, understanding and skills to be developed in each area 
  • levels of progression - teachers will use these to assess your child's progress in developing skills of communication, using mathematics and ICT
  • how your child's progress is assessed and reported

Guidance and support materials for teachers are available through the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment website.

Curriculum guides for parents

To read more about what the curriculum teaches primary and post-primary children, go to:

Curriculum key stages 

The curriculum has five key stages. Each stage is for a specific age group, beginning when your child is four years old and finishing when they're 16.

The Foundation Stage is for children in Years 1 and 2 at primary school. 

Age Stage Year Assessment
four to five Foundation  1 Teacher assessment of learning and skills.
five to six Foundation  2 Teacher assessment of learning and skills.
six to seven Key Stage 1 3 Teacher assessment of learning and skills.
seven to eight Key Stage 1 4 Teacher assessment of learning and skills.
eight to nine Key Stage 2 5 Teacher assessment of learning and skills.of the school's choice. 
nine to ten Key Stage 2 6 Teacher assessment of learning and skills.of the school's choice. 
10 to 11 Key Stage 2  7 Teacher assessment of learning and skills.of the school's choice. 
11 to 12 Key Stage 3  8 Teacher assessment of learning and skills.
12 to 13 Key Stage 3  9 Teacher assessment of learning and skills.
13 to 14 Key Stage 3 10 Teacher assessment of learning and skills.
14 to 15 Key Stage 4 11 Teacher assessment of learning and skills. Some children take GCSEs.
15 to 16 Key Stage 4 12 Most children take GCSEs or other qualifications.

Minimum content for subjects 

The curriculum sets out minimum standards of knowledge, understanding and skills children should develop at each stage.  There is minimum content for each area of learning and subject.

More useful links

 

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