Key Stage 4 Overview

At Key Stage 4 (post-primary Years 11 and 12), pupils build on their learning from Key Stage 3. Pupils meet the statutory curriculum requirements through compulsory Areas of Learning and optional courses that lead to general and/or applied qualifications.

There are eight Areas of Learning at Key Stage 4; two are compulsory. All pupils must study Learning for Life and Work, and Physical Education. Religious Education is also a compulsory part of the curriculum.

School Boards of Governors should decide if their pupils must study for a qualification in Learning for Life and Work, Physical Education and Religious Education. However, parents can withdraw their child from part or all of Religious Education or collective worship.

As at Key Stage 3, pupils attend classes in different subjects, and teachers typically teach specific subjects to pupils across the different Years. Pupils must continue to have opportunities to further develop the Whole Curriculum Skills and Capabilities.

Schools must offer access to at least one course that leads to a qualification (either general or applied) in each of the eight Areas of Learning. The courses pupils choose have detailed specifications that they must follow to achieve qualifications that are valued by employers, further education colleges and universities.

The Key Stage 4 Entitlement Framework sets out the requirements on the number and types of courses that schools need to provide.

After pupils finish Key Stage 4, they can choose to study for post-16 qualifications, such as GCEs.