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Education Reform: National Curriculum

Volume 571: debated on Monday 2 December 2013

On 11 September 2013, I published the new national curriculum for all subjects except for English, mathematics and science at key stage 4.

Today, I am publishing for consultation the programmes of study for English and mathematics at key stage 4. The consultation will run until 3 February 2014. On 1 November we published the new GCSE subject content for English language, English literature and mathematics. It is important to consider these programmes of study alongside the GCSE subject content to ensure that the curriculum and qualifications are fully coherent.

The programme of study in mathematics at key stage 4 is more challenging. It has been drafted by experts to ensure that it sets expectations that match those in the highest performing jurisdictions. There is broader and deeper mathematical content with a focus on application of mathematical knowledge and skills to solve problems. The content is closely aligned to GCSE content. More challenging content specifically for higher achieving students is explicitly identified. There is a focus on consolidation and building on key stage 3, emphasising that mathematics is an interconnected subject. The proposals will provide better preparation for post-16 mathematics by providing foundations for advanced topics like calculus.

In English, the programme of study has been strengthened to ensure all pupils read a wide range of high-quality, challenging and classic English literature. There is a renewed focus on the reading of whole texts which should include at least one play by Shakespeare, works from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries and poetry since 1789, including romantic poetry. The language requirement is also more demanding and pupils will be expected to speak fluently and use linguistic and literary terminology effectively and confidently in their written and spoken English.

The programmes of study for English and mathematics will be introduced from September 2015, alongside first teaching of the new qualifications. We will be consulting on science at key stage 4 in the spring of 2014 in line with the timetable for the development of the new science qualifications.

Copies of the consultation on programmes of study for key stage 4 English and mathematics will be placed in Libraries of both Houses.