National curriculum

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30 November 2016
From September 2015 all state maintained schools are expect to deliver the 2014 national curriculum to all key stages as part of their whole school curriculum. Academies, Free schools and independent schools remain free to develop their own curricula.

A curriculum that counts

A curriculum that counts is a website created by ATL. It features high-quality, in-depth video case studies from schools that have taken an innovative approach to curriculum change. Our case studies explore the curricula in primary, secondary, and special and alternative settings. Find out how they do it, download their resources and join the conversation about curriculum by commenting.

We'll be adding more case studies over the next year – and we want you to contribute too by:

Be a part of a profession-led response to curriculum and celebrate what education staff do.


ATL has been actively involved in the debates around the new national curriculum - talking to members about the proposed changes, responding to the initial consultation, and working with other unions, academics, experts and children's authors to highlight our concerns. We also responded to the final draft programmes of study.

Opposition to Michael Gove's new national curriculum has been widespread, and we welcome the fact that there were some significant changes between the first versions in February and the final versions:

  • In English, spoken language skills are now included.
  • The list of languages at key stage 2 has been removed so schools have a free choice.
  • Climate change is now included at key stage 3 in geography.
  • History has been revised considerably - the programme of study has been slimmed down, and more world history is now included.
  • Major revisions to design and technology – greater flexibility and a broader range of industrial applications and high level technical skills.

However, there are still many issues with the proposed curriculum and little acknowledgement from government about how much planning, resources and time are needed to bring in a new curriculum for pupils in all age groups at the same time.

ATL is particularly concerned about RE under the new curriculum plans. We believe there should be a consistent entitlement to RE for pupils with sufficient curriculum time and resources, and adherence to a coherent set of national standards - see our RE policy page for more on this issue.

What happens next?

  • A consultation has taken place on primary assessment and accountability that asked for views on assessment without levels and the new national curriculum tests that will be introduced from 2016, to which ATL responded.
  • From 2016 new GCSEs AS and A level courses come online as well as new key stage 2 tests.

What else can you do?

  • Share this page with colleagues, parents and governors so they understand the curriculum changes (use the email or share links at the top of the page).
  • Discuss the national curriculum in your branch – we can provide briefings and support for policy discussions around the new framework.
  • Share your thoughts with ATL via @atlunion #acurriculumthatcounts and, or by emailing ATL's policy team.

See also

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