The British Curriculum is a broad and balanced curriculum framework inclusive of all of the major arts, sciences and humanities subjects. The curriculum’s syllabus is fortified by a systematic and rigorous approach for keeping track of progress and encouraging achievement, all the way from primary school to university level.
The British Curriculum has been designed to give students, parents and teachers a clear overview of a child’s progress with their learning at every educational stage, helping them to identify, work towards and achieve their academic goals. It can be adapted to meet the needs of all students through differentiated teaching and learning activities, whatever their interests or ability.
What is the British Curriculum?
The British Curriculum, also known as the English National Curriculum and the UK Curriculum, is common to most schools in England and Wales. The British Curriculum syllabus is a set of subjects and standards used by early years, primary and secondary schools.
Students in schools that follow the British Curriculum are provided a well-structured and coherent progression to learning from early childhood all the way to university entrance through various stages. The syllabus leads to the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) or its international equivalent, IGCSE, examinations at the end of secondary school. At pre-university level, students commonly sit for the A Level. Both qualifications are recognised by universities and employers around the world.
What subjects are covered?
There are various core and compulsory subjects depending on the school year, but many schools go beyond the standard requirements and teach complementary subjects.
Children are also offered, and highly encouraged, to take part in extracurricular activities to develop their skills and interests outside of the classroom. Such activities include learning to play an instrument, joining a sports team or picking up an additional language.
A wide range of subjects which include arts, science and humanities are covered in the British Curriculum. Students learn the basics of numeracy and literacy at the foundation stage of the curriculum. At primary level, students are taught the fundamentals of mathematics and English. Science, technology, humanities and arts subjects are also introduced as multi-disciplinary topics and integrated in school projects. The curriculum aims to hone students’ higher order thinking skills and encourage independent learning as they prepare for the (I)GCSE examinations.
Structure & Format
The British Curriculum is sectioned into blocks of years called 'Key Stages' (KS). Students will be formally assessed at the end of each Key Stage.
The Foundation Stage starts in the early years (ages 2 to 5), where learning is play-based. Children acquire their first understanding of numeracy and literacy through active, playful activities. By the end of the early years, most children would have acquired basic reading and number skills and a grounding in a second language.
In the primary school, KSl (ages 5 to 7) and KS2 (ages 7 to 11) the focus is on learning good fundamental mathematics and English language skills. Science, technology, humanities and art are covered as multidisciplinary topics and through projects. Within primary school, students may choose to sit two national exams called SATS in Year 2 and Year 6.
The curriculum in KS3 lower secondary (ages 11 to 14) is more subject-based and aims at building the students' ability to work independently and to think critically. At this stage, the emphasis is on exposing them to opportunities in a wide range of subjects so that they can start thinking about where their academic interests lie.
Upper secondary students in KS4 work towards their GCSE examinations (ages 14 to 16) and A Level exams or IB diploma (ages 16 to 18). At GCSE, students study English, Maths, Science plus an additional four or five subjects from a selection. At A Level, students specialise further and choose three or four subjects from a range of options which they study in depth to a high level in preparation for university.
What is the aim of the curriculum?
The British Curriculum’s syllabus is child centred and personalised. Teachers often plan lessons with differentiated outcomes, allowing for a range of achievements. This allows teachers to match each lesson as closely as possible to individual needs whilst providing enough range for pupils to reach their full academic potential. The emphasis is on learning to think critically and independently rather than simply learning facts.
As the curriculum covers many subject areas, students are encouraged to focus on the subjects they are good at while receiving support in subjects they find difficult. They are also taught to not only memorise facts but to gain a deeper understanding of what they are learning.
How is the grading system and requirements for graduation?
Students who are taught the British Curriculum sit for the (I)GCSE examinations at the end of Key Stage 4 and A Levels at the end of Key Stage 5. This Key Stage is also referred to as Years 12 and 13 or the Sixth Form. Both (I)GCSE and A Levels are recognised worldwide and opens up many opportunities to students when it comes to higher education. In addition, these qualifications are highly regarded by universities and companies in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Key Stages provide teachers a clear overview of a student’s academic progress and solutions to help students achieve their desired academic goals.
Benefits/Advantages of the British curriculum?
Although academics play a huge role in the British Curriculum, students have the chance to pursue their passions and interests in extracurricular activities. Activities such as team sports and performing arts are widely available in schools which provide the curriculum. The spirit of competition and camaraderie is also a strong feature of British boarding schools in the United Kingdom and their international branches. Students are also encouraged to develop skills in debating, discussing, questioning and problem-solving, which are important skills that will help greatly when they enter university and the workplace.
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