Comparison of the English Core Primary Curriculum to those of other High Performing Countries

Graham Ruddock, Anne Kispal, Marian Sainsbury, Tandi Clausen-May, Hanna Vappula, Keith Mason, Katie Pyle, Rifat Siddiqui, Felicity Rees, Sarah McNaughton, Eira Wyn Patterson

01 July 2008

Research report available to download from DfE

Research brief available to download from DfE

The objectives of the study were to establish how the England curriculum for key stage 2 mathematics, science and literacy compared with those of countries showing a high level of performance in international comparative surveys of performance. In particular attention was paid to:

  • The relative breadth of the curricula;
  • The relative difficulty of the curricula;
  • How the difficulty of what is taught is matched to the ability of the pupil;
  • Prescription of such features as time allocated to a subject, order of teaching topics;
  • Specifics of how the curriculum is implemented.

In mathematics the basic structure of our curriculum is quite similar to several of the comparator curricula, and the emphasis on process is widely shared. In science less consensus on the building blocks of the primary science curriculum and on the overall structure was found. In literacy the forthcoming revision of the primary curriculum may wish to consider whether the strong emphasis on analytic skills remains appropriate for key stage 2 pupils. In addition, consideration could be given to whether the rationale and aims underpinning the literacy curriculum could be elaborated in more detail.

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