How they check your child: As pressure for an exam boycott grows, Mary Braid offers a detailed guide

THE NATIONAL curriculum, heralded as the saviour of school standards, was delivered in September 1989 by Kenneth Baker, then Secretary of State for Education.

The 1988 Education Act made a uniform 10-subject curriculum - consisting of set programmes of study, attainment targets and regular assessment - a legal fact of life for 25,000 state schools.

Complications that arose before the birth have persisted through the curriculum's early years. Study programmes and assessment targets have been substantially altered. In the process many teachers originally hostile to the idea of a compulsory curriculum have been won over. But testing remains a battleground.

The curriculum consists of three 'core' subjects - English, maths and science - and 'foundation' subjects - technology, history, geography, music, art, PE and religious education. Secondary school pupils also study a compulsory foreign language.

Testing takes place at four 'key stages' - ages 7, 11, 14 and 16. With younger children tests take place in the classroom and involve one-to-one or small-group testing by the teacher. The Government claims that many young children do not even know they are being tested.

The precise nature of tests for 11-year-olds is not yet known and has raised concerns about a return to selection with an 11-plus type exam. Next month pilot paper-and-pencil tests are planned for this age group but unions are advising members to boycott them. At 14, children will sit written and multiple-choice papers.

The requirements in each subject vary. In science, seven-year- olds are expected to understand why toy cars go further on a smooth than rough surface; at 11, how to keep a container of water hot; at 13, how to investigate the reaction rate of acids and at 16 to consider why plants of the same species in different locations have varying leaf sizes.

In England and Wales the tests for all age groups have yet to be fully implemented. So far, seven-year-olds are tested in English, maths and science while 14- year-olds should this summer be tested in English, maths, science and technology, with tests in other subjects starting later. GCSEs will serve as tests for 16-year- olds.

The Government plans to make results available to parents. They could be used to create national league tables so parents can judge the overall performance of one school against another.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before