Introduction to the National Curriculum

In September 2014 the primary school curriculum was given a shake-up and a "new" curriculum was put in place. The main aim of this was to raise standards through a more challenging curriculum that focused on core subject knowledge and skills such as essay writing and computer programming.
 
 Inspired by what is taught in the world’s most successful school systems, including Hong Kong, Singapore and Finland, as well as in the best UK schools, the 2014 curriculum was designed to produce productive, creative and well educated students. 
 
The main changes to the National Curriculum can be found below: 
 

English

  • There is a stronger emphasis on vocabulary development, grammar, punctuation and spelling (for example, the use of commas and apostrophes is taught in KS1)
  • Handwriting – not previously assessed under the national curriculum – is expected to be fluent, legible and speedy
  • Spoken English has a greater emphasis, with children to be taught debating and presenting skills

Maths

  • Five-year-olds are expected to learn to count up to 100 (compared to 20 under the previous curriculum) and learn number bonds to 20(currently up to 10)
  • Simple fractions (1/4 and 1/2) are taught from KS1, and by the end of primary school, children should be able to convert decimal fractions to simple fractions (e.g. 0.375 = 3/8)
  • By the age of nine, children are expected to know times tables up to 12x12 (previously 10x10 by the end of primary school)
  • Calculators are now not to be used at all in primary schools, to encourage mental arithmetic

Science

  • Strong focus on scientific knowledge and language, rather than understanding the nature and methods of science in abstract terms
  • Evolution is taught in primary schools for the first time
  • Non-core subjects like caring for animals have been replaced by topics like the human circulatory system

Design & technology

  • Afforded greater importance under the new curriculum, setting children on the path to becoming the designers and engineers of the future
  • More sophisticated use of design equipment such as electronics and robotics
  • In KS2, children learn about how key events and individuals in design and technology have shaped the world
ICT
  • Computing replaces Information and Communication Technology (ICT), with a greater focus on programming rather than on operating programs
  • From age five, children learn to write and test simple programs and to organise,  store and retrieve data. 
  • From seven, they are taught to understand computer networks, including the internet
  • Internet safety – previously only taught from 11-16 – is taught in primary schools

Languages

  • Previously not statutory, a modern foreign language or ancient language is mandatory in KS2
  • Children are expected to master basic grammar and accurate pronunciation and to converse, present, read and write in the language