What does Teaching and Learning Look Like in the British Curriculum?



At The Aquila School, we teach the English National Curriculum, which is also known as the National Curriculum for England. It is a globally recognised educational framework valued for its emphasis on creativity, critical thinking, and flexibility. We have so many families that visit us and ask about how the British Curriculum is taught

In this article, we will explore what teaching and learning looks like within the British Curriculum, shedding light on its structure, key features, and the evolving role of educators. 

Understanding the British Curriculum


The British Curriculum, established in 1988, is widely adopted in international schools around the world, like The Aquila School.  It covers early years, primary and secondary education, with a focus on both breadth and depth of subjects. The curriculum is organised into well-defined Key Stages, providing a clear understanding of a pupil's progress from early years to pre-university levels.

Teaching and Learning in the British Curriculum

Primary Education: Ages 3–11


In the early years (FS1 and FS2), the emphasis is on learning through play, fostering a holistic development approach. In years one upwards core subjects like English, maths, and science are taught alongside foundation subjects such as art, music, geography, history and languages. The Key Stage system ensures national testing and rankings, guiding pupils through a well-structured academic journey.

 Secondary Education: Ages 11–18


Secondary education sees a shift in the structure, with pupils moving between classrooms and specialised teachers for different subjects. Transferable skills, critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration, are integrated throughout the curriculum.

British Education Exam System


At around 14 years of age, pupils can choose to pursue subjects at GCSE level (General Certificate of Secondary Education). The core subjects are mandatory, but pupils have the freedom to choose additional subjects based on their interests. The next two years are dedicated to preparing for A Levels (Advanced Level) or like at The Aquila School, the International Baccalaureate (IB)*, providing a pathway to higher education. In years twelve and thirteen we will be offering a range of pathways including IBDP, IBCP and BTEC; giving pupils the opportunities to be ready to enter high quality universities all over the world and to enter a wide range of professions.

*subject to approvals 

My Experience of the British Curriculum

As a dedicated History Teacher at The Aquila School, a British Curriculum school in Dubai, I am immersed in the rich educational environment that the British Curriculum offers.

When someone asks me ‘What is the British Curriculum all about?’, I say that I believe this curriculum's focus on critical thinking and providing a comprehensive education that equips pupils with the skills necessary for success.

In my experience, the British Curriculum is good because of its commitment to cultivating analytical thinking and a profound understanding of the interconnectedness of historical events. As a History Teacher, I am thrilled to guide pupils through the captivating tapestry of the past. The curriculum not only allows me to impart historical knowledge but also encourages pupils to develop a passion for history and hone skills essential for future challenges.


The Evolution of Teaching and Learning


As education adapts to the demands of the 21st century, the British Curriculum is also evolving. The integration of AI and technology in pedagogical practices is becoming more prominent. Teachers are incorporating digital tools to enhance the learning experience, providing interactive resources, and fostering a dynamic and engaging classroom environment.

Incorporating AI and technology allows for personalised learning experiences tailored to individual pupil needs. Adaptive learning platforms can identify strengths and weaknesses, enabling educators to provide targeted support. Virtual simulations and augmented reality are bringing historical events to life, offering pupils immersive learning opportunities.



Teaching and learning within the British Curriculum stand as a beacon of quality education, emphasising critical thinking, holistic development, and adaptability.

As we look to the future, the integration of AI and technology will continue to shape teaching and learning practices. The British Curriculum, with its rich history and commitment to excellence, embraces these changes, ensuring that pupils are well-prepared for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in our rapidly evolving world.


Craig McDonald 

Assistant Head of Secondary