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A Parent’s Guide to the 5 Learning Stages of the British Curriculum


A Parent’s Guide to the 5 Learning Stages of the British Curriculum

When choosing a school for your children, you need to consider many things. Besides its convenience and proximity to your home, you must investigate the type of curriculum the school follows. This will allow you to determine whether your kids will get the best educational program.

The British curriculum used by many international schools in Dubai offers a comprehensive framework for learning. It equips students with a broad knowledge across various disciplines beyond simple language, science, and maths.

Whether you’re only beginning to do your research or are already filling up your kids’ GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail online enrolment application, knowing what the program entails will help you make an informed choice.

This article will guide you through the early learning and four key stages (KS) of the British curriculum so you know what sets it apart from other curricula.

Foundation Stage

In the early years foundation stage (EYFS), students are introduced to the fundamental areas of learning. In the United Kingdom, this begins from birth, though many international schools following the same curriculum in Dubai set the start of learning at age 3.

Early Years (Ages 3 to 5)

Though it is not really considered a part of the British curriculum key stages system, the EYFS plays a critical role in ensuring an effective teaching framework for every student.

Upon reception (typically ages 4 to 5), children are assessed to determine their knowledge and skill level to determine the starting point for their learning.

To give you an idea of what is covered, below is a summary of the subjects covered in the Foundation Stage at the GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail:

●    Communication and Language Development: incorporates speaking and listening opportunities in various situations to help hone their confidence and communication skills.

●    Physical Development: covers control, coordination, and movement, as well as gross and fine motor skills to keep children physically healthy while preparing them for crucial learning skills like writing.

●    Personal, Social and Emotional Development: helps students develop a positive sense of self, understand appropriate behaviour, and learn to earn and give respect to others while nurturing their self-confidence.

●    Literacy Development: teaches students to read and write through listening and practice.

●    Mathematics: hones students’ skills in counting, calculating simple arithmetic (addition and subtraction), and describing shapes and measurements.

●    Early Sciences: fosters students’ awareness and learning about the physical world and social community through activities that let them observe, explore, and figure out how things work.

●    Arts and Design: lets children explore a wide range of media and materials to encourage thought-sharing through various creative activities like role-playing, music, art, movement, dance, design, and technology.

●    Specialist Lessons: includes specialised subjects such as music, drama, Arabic, and physical education.

●    Enrichment and Extracurricular Activities: covers clubs and other group activities that involve cooking, yoga, and gardening to help children develop positive and trusting relationships with adults and their peers.

Primary School

Upon reaching age 5, students under the British curriculum begin their journey through the five key stages.

KS 1: Year 1 to 2 (Ages 5 to 7)

Key Stage 1 in the British curriculum covers students aged 5 to 7 years old, equivalent to the kindergarten to grade 2 of the American curriculum.

At this stage, your children will study the core subjects: English, mathematics, and science. They are also expected to learn to read and calculate basic addition and subtraction upon completing this stage.

Students are taught to listen to instructions and hone their understanding of proper behaviour in the classroom and playground.

Here are the required assessments at the end of this KS:

●    Phonics screening

●    English reading and mathematics tests

●    Teacher assessments on mathematics, science, and English reading and writing 

KS 2: Year 3 to 6 (Ages 7 to 11)

English, Mathematics, and Science remain the core subjects during this key stage, though there are a few upgrades.

Students hone their reading comprehension and other written communication skills, such as recounting stories, writing instructions, and producing reports. At this stage, the students are introduced to the art of public speaking through short presentations explaining their work.

Designed for students aged 7 to 11, this KS is equivalent to grades 3 to 5 in the American curriculum. As in the first key stage, a primary school specialist handles this level in the British curriculum.

Below are the assessments performed by the end of this KS:

●    Multiplication tables check

●    Mathematics and English reading, grammar, spelling, and punctuation tests

●    Teacher assessments on English writing and science

Secondary School

The secondary level in the British curriculum begins at Key Stage 3 or Year 7. Students in this level are aged 11 to 16.

KS 3: Year 7 to 9 (Ages 11 to 14)

Years 7 through 9 comprise Key Stage 3, set around the same age as grades 6 to 8 pupils in the American curriculum.

In this KS, subject specialists guide the students’ learning and perform personal follow-ups on the youngsters’ progress.

The core subjects taught at this level include English, science, mathematics, history, geography, physical education and art, with a few international languages, depending on the school.

During this time, students develop a greater sense of independence and learn to think critically. They also submit projects and partake in activities that require more polished English mastery.

KS 4: Year 10 to 11 (Ages 14 to 16)

Key Stage 4 is the last stage of secondary school in the British curriculum.

At this point, students enrolled in years 10 to 11 (the equivalent of grades 9 and 10 in the US educational framework) choose ten subjects from a given range to help them study for the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) exams.

During these two years, the students learn to become more independent and confident to take on upper secondary education.

Subjects included in the IGSCE are taught by specialists, with teachers mentoring groups of youngsters to follow up on their learning.

Understanding the Curriculum Is Key As a parent, you play a crucial role in your children’s education. 

Understand the British curriculum better with this article so you know how to support your kids best.