Here you will find information and documentation relating to reviews of the  national curriculum for mainstream primary schools.

Education reform 2010

Please note that the existing primary curriculum will continue to be in force in 2011/12 and schools should plan on that basis.

Curriculum review launched
(20 January 2011)

The government has launched a comprehensive review of the National Curriculum in England for key stages 1 to 4 (ages 5 - 16 years).

The review will look at all subjects currently within the National Curriculum. Religious Education will not form part of the review and will retain its statutory basis, with similar considerations applying to PSHE which will be evaluated by a separate internal review examining how schools may be supported in the teaching of this subject.

The National Curriculum Review will be conducted in two phases:

English, maths, sciences and PE will all remain statutory from KS1 to KS4. Phase 1 will provide new programmes of study for these subjects and also evaluate the status of all other current curriculum subjects, including whether they should remain in the curriculum, and if so at which key stages and with what kind of programmes of study.

Phase 2 of the review will provide draft programmes of study for all other curriculum subjects, based on the outcomes of Phase 1.

The Department for Education (DfE) has invited stakeholders to respond to the Phase 1 Call for Evidence from 20 January 2011 to 14 April 2011 - interested parties wishing to contribute their views should visit the Call for Evidence website. There will follow consultation events for key stakeholders as well as work to ensure that heads, teachers, parents and others can contribute their views towards the reform.

A public consultation on Phase 1 will occur in early 2012 with the new programmes of study to be introduced in schools in September 2013.

The Phase 2 call for evidence will be launched in early 2012, followed by a public consultation on Phase 2 programmes of study in early 2013. The programmes of study for these subjects will be introduced in schools in September 2014.

The Department for Education will be supported in the review process by an Advisory Committee. An Expert Panel led by Tim Oates (Director of Assessment Research and Development, Cambridge Assessment) has also been appointed to provide an evidence base for the review, informed by international practice.

For further information, please visit the Department for Education website.

Key documents

The importance of teaching – the schools White Paper 2010
(DFE, November 2010)

The Schools White Paper sets out key strategies and priorities of the Coalition Government in reforming school education.
Read the CILT response to the White Paper.

Could do better – using international comparisons to refine the National Curriculum in England
(Cambridge Assessment, November 2010)

The paper outlines both the strengths and the weaknesses of current national curriculum in England. It draws from transnational analysis some key concepts – including ‘curriculum coherence’ and ‘curriculum control’ – to understand the operation of other nation systems and establish what we can learn from them, and identify what we can promote in our own system.

Primary curriculum reviews

Prior to the 2011 National Curriculum Review, two previous reviews of the primary curriculum were carried out and reported in 2009:

  • The Independent Review of the Primary Curriculum commissioned by the government in 2008 and led by Sir Jim Rose
  • The Cambridge Primary Review began in 2006 and examined primary education as a whole, including recommendations for curriculum reform.

The recommendations for reform proposed by Sir Jim Rose were accepted by the previous government. Ministers announced on 7 June 2010 that the current government does not intend to proceed with the proposed new primary curriculum.  


Independent review of the primary curriculum: final report
(Independent Review of the Primary Curriculum, 30 April 2009)

This final report follows from the interim report published in December 2008. In the period between the two reports, further evidence has been gathered and considered from research and stakeholder engagement, including nine regional consultations with heads and LA advisers, two further meetings of the Primary Curriculum Advisory Group and consultations initiated by the review team which received approx. 1,000 written responses.

The final report proposed situating statutory primary languages within a new area of learning entitled ‘Understanding English, communication and languages’.

Independent review of the primary curriculum: interim report
(Independent Review of the Primary Curriculum, December 2008)

The interim report from Sir Jim Rose’s independent review of the primary curriculum. It outlines some preliminary recommendations for introducing compulsory languages at Key Stage 2 including models of provision, which languages to teach, workforce development and managing progression and transition.

The report proposes situating primary languages within a new area of learning entitled ‘English, Communication and Languages’ - view the draft programme of learning.

A selection of the evidence gathered for the review can be found at Primary education research.

Primary curriculum review launched
(January 2008) 

A comprehensive overhaul of the primary curriculum was announced by Ed Balls (Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families) who described the review as essential to achieving the outcomes set out in the Children and Young People’s Plan and Every Child Matters agenda.

The primary review is being conducted by Sir Jim Rose and aims to build on his review of phonics teaching and early reading - the Rose Report. Aims of review include ensuring continuity with new curricula in other educational phases and creating space for personalised teaching and learning. Sir Jim Rose will also review how best to introduce primary languages as a compulsory subject.

Find out more:

Cambridge primary review

The Cambridge primary review: special report on the curriculum
(The Cambridge Review, February 2009)

A review of the primary curriculum conducted by a team at the University of Cambridge. This report forms part of the wider Cambridge Review of primary education as a whole and is therefore distinct from the DCSF-commissioned review of the curriculum, being led by Sir Jim Rose. 

The Cambridge Review is not due to give a final report until late 2009. However, this special report on the curriculum was published earlier so that it could be available during Sir Jim Rose's consultation period. Drawing on evidence from a range of sources including written submissions, sounding sessions and literature surveys, the review examines the strengths and weakness of the current curriculum and outlines proposed reforms.

Cambridge review
(The Cambridge review, 2006 to present)

The Cambridge review is an independent enquiry which aims to evaluate  primary education as a whole. The review was conducted by a team based at the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge and is being supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Beginning in 2006, the review draws on a range of evidence to examine the current primary system whilst also looking to the future of education in this sector. A final report has now been published - for information visit

The analysis is based around ten broad themes: Purposes and values, Learning and teaching, Curriculum and assessment, Quality and standards, Diversity and inclusion, Setting and professionals, Parenting, caring and educating, Beyond the school, Structures and phases and Funding and governmance. 

Primary national curriculum

Developing language in the primary school: Literacy and primary languages
(DCSF, June 2009)

Guidance on making links between primary languages and literacy, available as series of pdf downloads on the National Strategies website. Intended for Primary literacy and language advisers and consultants, this document focuses on developing mutually supportive language learning skills in children's first and additional languages.

Key topics covered include examining how the objectives in the Primary Framework for literacy align with those in the KS2 Framework for Languages, making explicit the commonalities in language learning strategies in both Frameworks and highlighting teaching and learning strategies that can support their development. Links with the CPD materials in Excellence and enjoyment: learning and teaching for bilingual children in the primary years are also made.

Renewed primary Framework for literacy and mathematics
(DCSF, October 2006)

The Primary Framework is intended to provide guidance and materials for teaching primary literacy and mathematics. Based around a set of age-related outcomes linked to learning and progression, the Framework aims to support children in working towards the Early Learning Goals and the appropriate National Curriculum levels in Key Stages 1 and 2. The renewed Framework constitutes a significant revision of the original documents released in 1998/ 1999 and incorporates the recommendations of the Rose Report into early reading.

National Curriculum for Key stages 1 and 2
(DfES, 1999) 

The National Curriculum sets out the programmes of study for all statutory subjects taught to Key Stage 1 and 2 pupils in community and foundation schools (including special schools and voluntary aided or controlled schools). Statutory subjects are currently: art and design, design and technology, English, geography, history, ICT, maths, music, PE, science and religious education.

The curriculum became valid in September 2000 and remains in force until further notice. An independent review of the primary curriculum is currently underway. The Curriculum 2000 handbook can be ordered via the QCA orderline.

Secondary national curriculum

New secondary curriculum
( DCSF , September 2007)

A new secondary curriculum was introduced in schools in September 2007.

  • Languages Work
  • lingu@net europa
  • Languages ICT
  • Vocational Languages Resource Bank