The Foundation Subjects
At primary school, English, Maths and Science are the core subjects which make up the bulk of the timetable. That said, the other foundation subjects play a key part in providing a broad and balanced curriculum. All eight of these subjects are a compulsory part of the National Curriculum. In addition, all schools are required to
include some Religious Education in their broader curriculum, although the content of this is agreed locally.
Here is a very brief outline of what will be covered in the foundation subjects during primary school:
Schools will be largely free to design their own curriculum in Art, while providing a broad experience for their students. Children will explore a range of different techniques such as drawing, painting and sculpture, and will use a variety of
materials, from pencil and paint to charcoal and clay, to create their own art pieces. In addition, during Key Stage 2, children will study the works of some great artists, architects and designers from history.
There are three main strands of the new Computing curriculum: information technology, digital literacy and computer science.
Information technology is about the use of computers for functional purposes, such as collecting and presenting information, or using search technology. Digital literacy is about the safe and responsible use of technology, including recognising its advantages for collaboration or communication. Finally, computer science will introduce children of all ages to understanding how computers and networks work. It will also give all children the opportunity to learn basic computer programming, from simple floor robots in Years 1 and 2, right up to creating on-screen computer games and programmes by Year 6. Many schools will use programming software which is freely available online, such as Scratch or Kodu.
All schools will also include regular teaching of e-safety to ensure that children feel confident when using computers and the Internet, and know what to do if they come across something either inappropriate or uncomfortable. Many schools will also invite parents to work with them on this aspect of the curriculum.
Design and Technology
This subject includes cooking, which will be taught in all primary schools from 2014, with children finding out about a healthy diet and preparing simple meals. It also includes the more traditional design elements in which children will design, make and evaluate products while learning to use a range of tools and techniques for construction. There may also be some cross-over with Science here as children incorporate levers, pulleys or electrical circuits into their designs for finished products.
Across primary school, children will find out about different places in the UK, Europe and the Americas through studying small regions in each, and comparing these to other areas, including their own locality.
In Key Stage 1, children will learn the names of the continents and oceans as well as the names of the four home nations and their respective capital cities. They will use the four main compass directions and simple maps and photographs to explore the local area.
In Key Stage 2, the children will locate the countries of the world, focussing particularly on Europe and the Americas, as well as naming the counties, regions and major cities of the United Kingdom. They will begin to explore geographical features such as volcanoes and tectonic plates, as well as features of human geography such as trade links and land use. They will also learn to use grid references on Ordnance Survey maps to describe locations.
In Key Stage 1, the focus of history is very much on locally significant events or events within their own memories, as well as key events of great significance such as Bonfire Night. In addition, children will find out about important historical people and events, such as Florence Nightingale or The Great Fire of London.
In Key Stage 2, there are nine main areas of study that are required, some of which have optional strands. The first four are units relating to British history and are intended to begin the development of a clear chronological understanding. In many schools these will be taught in chronological order.
Britain in the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages
Anglo-Saxons and Scots in Britain
Anglo-Saxons and Vikings
A study of a period after 1066 of the school’s choice
A choice from Ancient Egypt, Ancient Sumer, Ancient Egypt, or the Shang Dynasty of Ancient China
A choice from 10th-century early Islamic civilisation, Mayan civilisation or Benin in West Africa
For the first time, foreign languages will be compulsory in schools for children in Key Stage 2 (Years 3 to 6). Schools can choose any language to study, although they should bear in mind the languages available in partner secondary schools. Over the course of their four years in Key Stage 2, children will be expected to make good progress in the main language chosen, learning to ask and answer questions, present ideas to an audience both in speaking and writing, read a range of words, phrases and sentences, and write simple phrases, sentences and descriptions. If the school chooses a modern language, such as French or Spanish, then children will also learn about the appropriate intonation and pronunciation of the language.
Over the course of primary school, children will listen to and perform a range of music. In the first years of schooling this will often include singing songs and rhymes, and playing untuned instruments such as tambourines or rainmaker sticks.
In Key Stage 2, children will perform pieces both alone and as part of a group using their own voice and a range of musical instruments, including those with tuning such as glockenspiels or keyboards. They will both improvise and compose pieces using their knowledge of the different dimensions of music such as rhythm and pitch. During the later years they will also begin to use musical notation, and to learn about the history of music.
Physical Education lessons will continue to include a range of individual disciplines such as dance and athletics, with team sports and games. Through these sports, children should learn the skills of both cooperation and competition.
During Key Stage 2, the range of games and sports taught will be broader, and the children will also take part in outdoor and adventurous activities such as orienteering. They will perform dances, take part in athletics and gymnastics, and attempt to achieve personal bests in various activities.
In addition, all children should learn to swim at some point during their primary school career.