Key Stage 3 and 4

Key Stage 3, year groups 7 to 9, ages 7 to 14  
Key Stage 4, year groups 10 and 11, ages 14 to 16
The national curriculum applies to pupils of compulsory school age in community and foundation schools, including community special schools and foundation special schools*, and voluntary controlled schools.
Statutory subjects, Key Stage 3: The statutory subjects that all pupils must study in Key Stage 3 are English, maths, science, art and design, citizenship, computing, design and technology, modern foreign languages, geography, history, music, and physical education. The teaching of sex and relationship education and religious education is also statutory.
*Special schools with pupils aged 11 and older can specialise in 1 of the 4 areas of special educational needs and schools can further specialise within these categories to reflect the special needs with which they help, eg Autistic spectrum disorders, visual impairment or speech, language and communication needs (SLCN)
  •     communication and interaction
  •     cognition and learning
  •     social, emotional and mental health
  •     sensory and physical needs
Key stage 4 continues to build on the knowledge and skills learnt, and the confidence developed, in Key Stage 3. Statutory subjects, Key Stage 4: There are fewer statutory subjects taught in Key Stage 3 than in Key Stage 3, but they are taught in much greater breadth and depth. All pupils must study English, maths, science, computing, citizenship and physical education. Sex education and religious education are also statutory.
Non-statutory subjects. The curriculum also includes non-statutory programmes of study for careers, drugs education, economic wellbeing and financial capability.
Entitlement subjects at Key Stage 4: At Key Stage 4 students are entitled to follow a course of study in a subject within each of four entitlement areas. The entitlement areas are: arts (comprising art and design, music, dance, drama and media arts); design and technology (comprising only that subject); humanities (comprising geography and history) modern foreign languages.

Curriculum by subject, for Key stages 3 and 4

Please see below summaries of the areas covered within each subject for Key Stages 3 and 4. The full details are available from the Government website for the curriculum, at
English, Maths and Science are considered to be ‘core’ subjects They are important because:
  • English enables pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them;
  • Maths is essential to everyday life, and critical to science, technology and engineering, necessary for financial literacy and employment, reason mathematically, solve problems, bring order, logic and understanding to complex subjects.
  • Science provides the foundations for understanding the world through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics. The knowledge, concepts, methods, processes and uses of science help develop rational explanation and curiosity about natural phenomena, help explain what is occurring, predict how things will behave, and analyse causes.
Examples of main areas included in each subject in Key Stages 3 and 4
Remember that although covering similar areas in both stages, the skills and knowledge gained in Key Stage 3 are developed to a greater depth and breadth during Key Stage 4
  • Englishreading, literature, writing, prose, poetry, drama, grammar and vocabulary, spoken English
  • Mathematics – numeracy, algebra, ratio, proportion and rates of change, geometry and measures, probability, statistics
  • Science – scientific attitudes and approach, experimental skills and investigations, analysis and evaluation, measurement, within the three disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics
  • Art & Design (Key Stage 3 only) – creativity, design, artistic execution and techniques using a range of media, history of art, craft, design and architecture.
  • Citizenshipdemocracy, government and the rights and responsibilities of citizens, political system of democratic government in the UK, liberty, law, justice, public institutions, Europe, the Commonwealth, the United Nations
  • Computing – computational, links with mathematics, science, and design and technology, natural artificial systems. principles of information and computation, digital systems, programming
  • Design and Technology (Key Stage 3 only) - design and make products to solve real problems in domestic and local contexts - home, health, leisure and culture) and industrial contexts - manufacturing, construction, food, energy, agriculture and fashion.
  • Languages (Key Stage 3 only) – understand and respond to a modern foreign language; spoken and written language with increasing confidence, fluency and spontaneity, communicating through discussion; correct pronunciation, intonation and grammatical structures.
  • Geography (Key Stage 3 only) – knowledge about diverse places, people, resources, natural and human environments; the Earth’s key physical and human processes; interaction between physical and human processes and understanding of the formation and use of landscapes and environment.
  • History (Key Stage 3 only) - knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the world; chronological understanding of the earliest times to the present day; Britain’s influence on the world; local, regional, national and international, economic, military, political, religious and social history. 
  • Music (Key Stage 3 only) play and perform confidently in a range of solo and ensemble contexts using voice, playing instruments musically, fluently, with accuracy and expression; improvise and compose; and extend and develop musical ideas; musical structures, styles, genres and traditions.
  • Physical Education – develop competence to excel in a broad range of physical activities; physically active competitive sports and activities; team and individual games (e.g. badminton, basketball, cricket, football, hockey, netball, swimming, rugby and tennis); develop technique performance.
  • Religious Education (Guidance only. Programme determined by local authorities) – exploring controversial religious issues in the modern world, including media misrepresentations of religion; respect for different religious communities; interaction with different religions, non­religious groups.
  • Sex and Relationship Education – This is a requirement for state maintained secondary schools and includes emotional, social and physical aspects of growing up, relationships, sex, human sexuality and sexual health. Some aspects are taught in science, others within personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE).

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