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Keeping tabs: UK KS3 National Curriculum links

As home educators, we don’t have to follow the National Curriculum. And mostly, we don’t. The freedom to follow a child’s individual interests is one of the great advantages of home educating, whereas the National Curriculum is designed to be a best attempt to cover the needs of all the hundreds of thousands of children that pass through LA-maintained schools every year. It’s just not going to be the best fit for any particular one of those children; that’s not its job. (Not that you’ll get the best fit home educating either; perfect simply isn’t attainable. But I’ve reckon you’ve got a good shot at getting a better fit if you look at what suits your one child rather than what might suit several million.)

However, particularly as the children get older, it can be useful to keep an eye to see where they are in relation to their peers at state school. With that in mind, I’ve gathered together some links to useful resources showing the basic requirements of the KS3 curriculum, which covers learning goals for early secondary school, Year 7 – 9, or roughly ages 11-14. You might find it useful if your child will be going into school shortly, if you like the idea of following a standard curriculum, or if you’re just curious about what the rest of the country is up to.

Bear in mind that not only do home educators NOT have to follow any particular curriculum, independent schools don’t either, and nor do free schools or academies (which covers a decent proportion of all secondary schools these days) – although many of these may choose to. And there are different national curriculums for each of the devolved areas of the UK. So the idea that there’s one particular set of knowledge all children must learn or be forever doomed doesn’t quite hold water. That said, it can still be a handy benchmark, so here goes…

England

National Curriculum documents for KS3 and KS4 (GCSEs):

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-secondary-curriculum

Wales

The Welsh government is working on a new curriculum, for introduction in the next few years (which actually sounds quite interesting – focusing more on broad skills for life and learning rather than low-level ‘teach this now’ directives).

Current progress on the new curriculum:

http://gov.wales/topics/educationandskills/schoolshome/curriculuminwales/curriculum-for-wales-curriculum-for-life/?lang=en

The current curriculum for KS2-4:

http://learning.gov.wales/resources/collections/key-stages-2-4?lang=en

Scotland

The Scottish Curriculum for Excellence covers early years through to S6:

https://education.gov.scot/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/cfe-(building-from-the-statement-appendix-incl-btc1-5)/What%20is%20Curriculum%20for%20Excellence?

Northern Ireland

The Northern Irish curriculum for KS3:

http://ccea.org.uk/curriculum/key_stage_3

The British Crown Dependencies

While not actually part of the UK, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are closely linked as British Crown Dependencies. All have curriculums based on the English National Curriculum, with some differences to reflect the islands’ unique situations.

Jersey:

https://www.gov.je/Education/Schools/ChildLearning/Pages/UnderstandingCurriculum.aspx

Guernsey, Alderney and Herm:

https://www.gov.gg/curriculum

Sark:

http://www.sarkschool.co.uk/page/?pid=6

Isle of Man:

https://www.gov.im/categories/education-training-and-careers/age-5-to-16/

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