British Curriculum

British Curriculum


  • While the UK has a national curriculum, independent (non-state funded) schools may choose to use it or implement a curriculum of their choice. Therefore, expect variation in the learning outcomes among British curriculum schools. 
  • The British National curriculum has the following compulsory subjects for students: Mathematics, English, Science, Design and Technology, History, Geography, Art and Design, Music, Physical Education, Computing and Ancient and Modern Foreign languages.
  • British secondary school qualifications, such as GCSEs, IGCSEs and A-Levels are widely recognized for admission to universities in the UAE and abroad. 


The UK National Curriculum framework details what subjects are taught, and the standards children should reach in each subject. It is organized into blocks referred to as ‘Key Stages’ (KS), ranging from KS1 to KS4. 


  • While education is only compulsory from age 5, most schools structure their pre-school programs on the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFSF).
  • Early years usually comprise Early Years Foundation Stage 1 (FS1) and Foundation Stage 2 (FS2). 
  • Your child must be 3 years old by 1st of September of the year of admission in order to be enrolled in FS1. 

Key Stages:

  • Beyond the Foundation years, the different levels of education are referred to as Key Stages. See the table below to understand the age to year mapping. 
  • Please note that the British system uses “Years” rather than Grades to place children. 
  • Year 2 corresponds to Grade 1, Year 3 corresponds to Grade 2 and so on.

Key Stage



Early Years Foundation Stage


Nursery (FS1)


Reception (FS2)

Key Stage 1


Year 1


Year 2

Key Stage 2


Year 3


Year 4


Year 5


Year 6

Key Stage 3


Year 7


Year 8


Year 9

Key Stage 4


Year 10


Year 11

Key Stage 5 (post-16)


Year 12


Year 13



The following assessments are administered over the child’s education journey in a British system: 

  • FS2: An Early Years Foundation Stage Profile is completed for each child by the teacher. This profile may be developed by the teacher through observation, generating a portfolio, or administering low stakes formative assessments.
  • Year 1: A statutory phonics screening assessment, administered by the teacher. If the child does not do well enough, they have to take the test again in Year 2. 
  • Year 2 : Statutory National Assessments delivered in English Reading, Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling and Mathematics. Whereas Science, writing, speaking and listening are teacher assessed.
  • Year 6: National tests and teacher assessments in English & Mathematics; Teacher Assessments in Science. 
  • Year 10: Some students may take the GCSEs or IGCSE subject exams.
  • Year 11: Students take the GCSEs/IGCSE or other national exam.
  • Year 13: Students take the A-Level exams, an essential qualification for university entrance. 

All students in Years 4-10 studying the British curriculum must take GL-PT test series (PTE, PTM, PTS) in English, Mathematics and Science. 


  • Schools may voluntarily participate in accreditation schemes, such as inspection through the British Schools Overseas (BSO), endorsed by the Department for Education (DfE), UK. 
  • Such accreditation ensures that the school provides students with the skills and qualifications required to enter/re-enter the British education system.

Further Details

  • More details about the British National curriculum can be found here.
  • Details about the early Years Foundation stage is available here.
  • Details about Key Stages 1-4 are available here.
  • Details about GCSEs and A-Level exams are available here