The National Curriculum applies to pupils of compulsory school age in English maintained schools, ie community and foundation schools (including special schools) and voluntary aided and voluntary controlled schools. There is no requirement for academies, free schools or schools from the independent sector to follow the National Curriculum, although they are required to offer a broad and balanced curriculum as prescribed by the Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2014.

The secondary phase is covered by Key Stages 3 and 4.

The Education Act 2002 requires that all maintained schools provide a balanced and broadly based curriculum that promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of all learners at the school and within society and prepares pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life. Schools are also required through their curriculum and teaching to actively promote fundamental British values.

There are also a number of learning routes for 14–19 education, which are covered in a separate topic.

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