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National Curriculum – changes to the Secondary curriculum

September 2014

At the start of September 2014 secondary schools in England were required to introduce a new national curriculum for children and young people in key stage 3 (up to age 14). A new curriculum for 15- and 16-year-olds will come into force from September 2015.

The new curriculum does not tell teachers "how to teach", but concentrates on "the essential knowledge and skills every child should have" so that teachers "have the freedom to shape the curriculum to their pupils' needs". The curriculum is said to be more demanding; a big change is that teachers are seen as the curriculum makers, and are expected to decide what is taught under the Programme of Study headings.

‘Spoken language’ replaces speaking and listening in this new curriculum. Teachers are required to develop pupils’ spoken language, reading, writing and vocabulary as integral aspects of the teaching of every subject.

There are changes to the content of all subjects in the national curriculum. A summary can be found on the Department for Education website. The old curriculum framework has gone, and there will no longer be prescribed or recommended content for particular years. Instead, there is just a list of content that will need to be covered during KS3. Information on the changes can be found here.

In the new curriculum the following subjects are compulsory at KS3: English, Maths, Science, Art and Design, Computing, Design and Technology, Languages, Geography, History, Music and Physical Education and Citizenship.

Read about I CAN’s Secondary Talk programme which helps schools make changes to their practice to better support young people's language and communication.