Schools Curriculum

Education systems across the UK differ slightly in their approach, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, year groups are organised into blocks called ‘Key stages’ and, in local-authority-maintained schools, government guidance is provided regarding the learnings that should be achieved across a specific key stage. The below table outlines which ‘key stage’ corresponds to which school year and age group.

Key StageSchool YearAge Group
37 - 911 - 14
410 - 11 (GCSE)14 - 16
512 - 13 (A-Level)16 - 18


Scotland’s system is structured slightly differently and uses ‘levels’ and ‘phases’ rather than key stages to define different stages of learning, as below:

Key StageSchool YearAge Group
3rd - 4th levelS1 - S312 - 15
Senior phase (National 5's)S415 - 16
Senior phase (Highers)S516 - 17
Senior phase (Advanced higher)S617 - 18

This page provides information and resources for each of the UK countries to help members understand the material which has been covered at different ages.



In England, local-authority-maintained schools follow a national curriculum which lays out the topics to be covered within each subject over a specific Key stage. This ensures that children gain the same knowledge and defines the standards children should reach in each subject by the end of a key stage.

Below are some useful resources for the national curriculum of England below which cover the content by key stage.



Scotland follows the Curriculum for Excellence (also known as the CfE). The Scottish government only sets guidelines about the school curriculum and schools do not need to stick to rigid learning paths and can make their own decisions on what to teach pupils.

While there is perhaps more flexibility in Scotland there are defined Benchmarks up until around age 15, these have been developed to provide clarity on the national standards expected within each curriculum area at each level. Some useful resources can be found using the links below:



In Wales, The Curriculum for Wales provides guidance and aims to help each school develop its own curriculum.

The Curriculum for Wales guidance sets out the curriculum requirements for children aged 3 to 16, to ensure all schools cover the same core learning and to secure a consistency of approach for learners across Wales. It provides guidelines for schools in developing their curricula and sets expectations around assessment arrangements to support learner progression.


Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland The Council for the Curriculum Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), advises government on what should be taught in Northern Ireland's schools, monitors standards in examinations and awards qualifications.

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