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The ENC was first launched in 1988 by the British government and is used by all schools in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and by thousands of British Curriculum schools all over the world. We asked the principal of The British School of Beijing, Shunyi, Andy Puttock, to tell us more about the English National Curriculum (ENC). Puttock says, “It is often characterized by the terms ‘broad and balanced’ as, up to the age of 14, students study the full breadth of subjects that are needed to help them develop into well-rounded citizens of the future.”
What is unique about the curriculum?
It is highly structured, from the age 3-14, with progress measures throughout this time, so that teachers and parents know exactly how well a student is achieving and being taught. Pupils’ progress is benchmarked against the expectations from the curriculum and all other ENC schools. After the age of 14, students enter two years of preparation for the (International) General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) examination, taken at age 16.
How is it applied?
The ENC is divided into six ‘Key Stages’ (KS 0 -5), which are structured to build on each other to ensure progression and the highest rigor in standards achieved.
Key Stage 0: Also known as Early Years (Ages 3-5)
Early Years Foundation Stage features children undertaking a well-planned program of learning through play up to the age of 5, and gradually develops their core understanding of reading, writing, mathematics, and the other key skills required for the compulsory stages of education.
Key Stage 1: Year 1-2 (Ages 5-7)
Key Stage 2: Year 3-6 (Ages 7-11)
Key Stage 1 and 2 cover the rest of primary education to age 11, with regular assessment against international benchmarks, and laying the ground for secondary school and preparation for university and careers in the future.
Key Stage 3: Year 7-9 (Ages 11-14)
This stage builds up as children make the transition to secondary, and it encompasses deeper study of the same core and foundation subjects.
Key Stage 4: Year 10-11 (Ages 14-16)
Students take the IGCSE qualifications, the core of subjects, while they are guided in their choice of a suite of other wide ranging disciplines.
Key Stage 5: Year 12-13, collectively known as Sixth Form (Ages 16-18)
For their final years of school education, the British system is more diverse. Students may choose to follow the narrower and more focused A level program, which is well accepted by universities, but more and more schools are now choosing the IB Diploma program.
How well does this education system prepare students for the real world?
The ongoing development of the curriculum to encompass skills that employers are seeking, such as leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, global awareness, digital literacy, breadth of thinking and creativity give the ENC high standing when compared to more linear ways of learning.
The ENC also places a premium on Personal, Social, Health, and Economic Education which, alongside the framework of academic excellence, respect, and good manners which typifies the system, ensures personal development is also at the heart of education.
Where is it offered?
There are very few major cities where one of the 30,000 schools using the British curriculum model cannot be found. It is well worth looking into school websites to check this out because the school name may not readily provide a clue.
Curriculum Spotlight: Claire, a Year 10 student, shares with us her thoughts on her education so far at the British School of Beijing, Shunyi
What was the most interesting project you completed this year?
I haven’t done a single project this year, rather a weekly set of assignments in my English class. These assignments were preparing for and conducting debates about current events. These weekly debates aid the development of my critical thinking skills and advance my public speaking and debating techniques.
I also realized how fortunate I was to be educated as a global citizen at BSB, Shunyi. One debate, which I did engage in last year, was the Nord Anglia Education (NAE) Global Debate challenge. The challenge saw a select group of students from each of the 43 schools in the NAE family competing against one another. As part of the debate, we were asked to focus on the United Nation’s Global Goals for a better, more sustainable life. After four months of rigorous debating, led by our class teacher, we finished in second place.
What are the challenges?
As with all projects, the more time you are able to commit, the better the end result. So, whether it is debates in English class, taking part in the Nord Anglia Global Debate challenge or preparing for a major Model UN conference, my biggest challenge is ensuring that I am able to commit time and energy to achieve a good result. It is crucial to find a balance between homework, extracurricular activities, and spending time with family and friends. The implemented schedules at BSB, Shunyi help me to achieve this.
This article originally appeared on page 16-17 of the 2017 issue of beijingkids School Choice Guide. Click here for your free online copy. To find out how you can obtain a hard copy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Dave’s Studio