The National Curriculum, introduced following the education reform act of 1988, ensures that all state schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland provide a common curriculum to all students.
The National Curriculum applies to all state schooled children between the ages of 5 and 16, but does not apply to independent schools who can teach their own curriculum.
The aims of the National Curriculum are to provide a consistent level of teaching and learning, and promote a students moral, social and spiritual development.
The National Curriculum is split into Key Stages that define the learning and teaching requirements for different age groups:
Throughout a child's time at school they are continually assessed by their teachers based on the work they do, and SATs or Key Stage tests provide a measure of a child's performance against national standards at specific points during their learning.