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Why Choose the English National Curriculum?

Why Choose the English National Curriculum?

There exists today a massive and expanding global demand for English-speaking education and international schools. There are over 7000 international schools teaching four million students. Over 42% of these schools offer English National Curriculum in the single biggest slice of the market. 21% of schools offer US curricula, so clearly English is the motor-language of the global economy. In the next decade, this education sector will grow to over 12,000 international schools teaching seven million students within an education market generating 62 billion dollars. The majority of these schools will be driven by English language, English National Curriculum and Cambridge International Examinations. 30% of all international schools currently are bilingual with English as the primary language of learning combined with the indigenous language. It is an increasingly popular international school ethos that blends local culture and language with an English-medium global learning approach. The world’s most widely taught English-medium curriculum is modeled on the English National Curriculum in 3.000 schools worldwide.

So why is the English National Curriculum so popular globally?

In 1988, the Education Secretary, Kenneth Baker, introduced a statutory National Curriculum for England. A National Curriculum was introduced in Northern Ireland in 1992. Scotland has a framework that gives teachers guidance on what should be covered. So there is no single British curriculum. A newly reformed curriculum has been taught in all local authority schools in England from September 2015.

The National Curriculum (NC) establishes the aim for every child to receive the same standard of education. The core NC subjects are: English, mathematics, science and physical education. The foundation subjects are: art and design, citizenship, design and technology, geography, history, information and communication technology, modern foreign languages, religious education and music. All children receive a programme of PSHEE (personal, social, health and economic education). The UK is the first state in the world to prescribe the learning of computer skills between the ages of 5-14.

Subjects are compulsory at various stages of a student’s school career. For each subject and for each key stage, programmes of study describe the syllabus content, and attainment targets set out the expected standards of performance. Schools choose how they organise their curriculum to include the programmes of study.

The 2015 NC changes do not prescribe how teachers should teach but reinforce the essential knowledge and skills children need, so teachers have considerable freedom to shape the curriculum to their students’ needs. The new curriculum covers primary school children, aged five to 11, and secondary schools students up to the age of 14. Examinations programmes are pursued at ages 14-16 (GSCE) and 16-19 (A levels). Vocational subjects may also be chosen for study post 14.

There are changes to the content of all subjects in the NC. A summary can be found on the Department for Education website. In mathematics, children are expected to learn more at an earlier age and to know their tables by the age of nine. History will offer a more chronological approach than under the old curriculum. In English, students will learn more Shakespeare and there will be more importance placed on spelling. The new computing curriculum will require students to learn how to write code. In science, there is a shift towards hard facts and scientific knowledge.

The new NC promotes increased skills learning alongside the world’s most successful education systems, like Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea. The intention is to blend best international practice with best practice from schools in England. The curriculum has a strong focus on basic skills allied to real freedom for teachers to decide how best to teach so that students graduate school with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the real world. The reorganisation does not include any changes to the five key stages in England. These remain:

Key Stage 1: Ages 5-7 (Years 1-2)

Key Stage 2: Ages 7-11 (Years 3-6)

Key Stage 3: Ages 11-14 (Years 7-9)

Key Stage 4: Ages 14-16 (Years 10-11)

Key Stage 5: Ages 16-19 (Years 12-13)

If you want your children to have more options for world-class universities, and if you want them to prosper in successful future careers, they will need to start learning and speaking English early in life. This is why more families look to international schools to provide such opportunities for their children. More students and families are turning to English NC and Cambridge International Examinations because they provide the best combination education in the world, with good discipline, educational heritage, and with qualities and qualifications that are respected by universities in Britain, Europe and North America. English-medium international schools are a vital education provision in most major cities today; and they are now becoming more popular in Romania, with schools in Cluj-Napoca, Bucharest and Iasi.

Julian Hingley


Royal School in Transylvania


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