National Curriculum (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)

National Curriculum (England, Wales And Northern Ireland)

National Curriculum (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)

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The National Curriculum was introduced into England, Wales and Northern Ireland as a nationwide curriculum for primary and secondary state schools following the Education Reform Act 1988. Notwithstanding its name, it does not apply to independent school, which may set their own curricula, but it ensures that state schools of all Local Education Authorities have a common curriculum. Academies, while publicly funded, have a significant degree of autonomy in deviating from the National Curriculum.

The Education Reform Act 1988 requires that all state students be taught a Basic Curriculum of Religious Education and the National Curriculum.

The purpose of the National Curriculum was to standardise the content taught across schools in order to enable assessment, which in turn enabled the compilation of league tables detailing the assessment statistics for each school. These league tables, together with the provision to parents of some degree of choice in assignment of the school for their child (also legislated in the same act) were intended to encourage a ‘free market’ by allowing parents to choose schools based on their measured ability to teach the National Curriculum.

Whilst only certain subjects were included at first in subsequent years the curriculum grew to fill the entire teaching time of most state schools.

Principal aims and purposes

There are two principal aims and four main purposes set out in the National Curriculum documentation<ref...
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