The National Curriculum of England and Wales, often called the British Curriculum, begins at Early Years Foundation Stage for children aged three to five, progresses to the highly respected IGCSE qualifications for students at the age of 16, and ends with A-Levels in their final year as they reach their 18th birthday.

Early Years Foundation Stage (3-5 years old, pre-KG-KG1)

The Early Years Foundation Stage is a critical stage as it helps children make the transition from home to school, as well as their future learning. It is seen as one of the real strengths of the British Curriculum.

It supports each child’s learning and development needs through a stimulating and fun programme delivered in a secure environment, both indoors and outdoors. Learning activities revolve around seven key curriculum areas, empowering students to develop both academic and social skills. The seven areas are:

Seven key curriculum areas
  • Communication and language
  • Physical development
  • Personal, social and emotional development
  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the world
  • Expressive arts and design

5-16 years old

The next phase is divided into four Key Stages.  The first two stages are often referred to as ‘Primary School’ and the latter two stages as ‘Secondary School’.

  1. Key Stage 1: 5-9 years old
  2. Key stage 2: 9-11 years old
  3. Key stage 3: 11-14 years old
  4. Key stage 4: 14-16 years old

As students move through these stages, they develop their skills and knowledge in a stimulating and challenging learning environment. The curriculum is designed to reinforce and build upon prior learning.  This means that a topic may be revisited in a later stage and enable the child to grasp higher level concepts and depths of understanding on the topic.

As students move through the stages, they study a wide variety of subjects. Before entering Key Stage 4, students choose up to 8 subjects for which they will take exams for the IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) for each subject at the age of 16. Each IGCSE is graded from 9 (the top grade) down to 1. The subjects will vary in each school but will be drawn from:

  • Art and Design
  • Citizenship
  • Design and Technology
  • English (including drama)
  • Geography
  • History
  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Mathematics
  • French
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Music
  • Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education
  • Physical Education
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology

16-18 years old

The final stage of a student’s journey is often called ‘Sixth Form’.  A-Levels (Advanced Levels) provide an opportunity for students to study a small number of subjects at a much higher level than IGCSEs.  Most students choose to study three subjects. The subjects that can be studied at A-Level are very similar to GCSEs. A-Levels are graded A* (the highest grade) to E.

Our schools may also offer qualifications that are ‘GCSE equivalent’ such as BTEC, providing even greater choice and, in many cases, a vocationally focused qualification that meets the needs of the learner for their life beyond school.