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Updated Cambridge Primary Curriculum FAQs (teaching from September 2021)


Why have you updated the Cambridge Primary English, mathematics and science curricula?

We are committed to improving our programmes and qualifications so that all Cambridge Learners get the best experience at every stage of the Cambridge Pathway. This means we review our programmes on a regular basis to make sure they meet the needs of our schools, teachers and learners and reflect current educational research.

In updating the Cambridge Primary core subjects, you can be sure that even the youngest learners are learning the right things at the right time as they progress through Cambridge Primary and onwards through the Cambridge Pathway.

Where can I find the new Curriculum Frameworks and support resources?

You can download the new Curriculum Frameworks, Teacher Guides and Schemes of Work from the Cambridge Primary support site. Everything is available now so you have plenty of time to familiarise yourself with the new subject content and plan teaching.

When should I start teaching the new curricula?

You can start teaching the new Curriculum Frameworks from September 2021 onwards. The exact date will depend on whether you use Cambridge Primary Progression Tests or Checkpoint, and which stage you teach. To decide when the best time for you to start is, use our helpful decision-making tool. We recommend that you use the time from September 2020 to September 2021 to familiarise yourself with the new materials.

How significant are the changes to the new curricula? Can I just switch to the new frameworks straight away?

On the Cambridge Primary support site you will find resources to help you transition from the current to the new curriculum for each subject. For each subject these include:

  • the key changes in the curriculum for each stage
  • the key changes in the Progression Tests and Cambridge Primary Checkpoint
  • a guide to help you plan how to transition from the current to the new Curriculum Frameworks for each subject.

We recommend that you use the time from September 2020 when the documents are published to September 2021 to familiarise yourself with the new materials, then start teaching from September 2021.

Please note that Progression tests will be available from January 2022, and the first series of Checkpoint using the new Curriculum Frameworks from May 2023. Endorsed textbooks are being published from March 2021 onwards. To decide when the best time for you to start is, use our interactive decision-making tool.

What are the key changes in Cambridge Primary Mathematics?

The primary strands and sub-strands have been aligned with Cambridge Lower Secondary and Upper Secondary Mathematics strands.

We have combined Geometry and Measure to form one strand and renamed Data Handling to ‘Statistics and Probability’ to better reflect the mathematics content. The learning objectives within Statistics and Probability have changed focus from processing data to interpretation of data as this better prepares learners with skills needed to foster deeper understanding of data analysis that is often presented in real-world contexts.

We have replaced the problem solving learning objectives with four pairs of thinking and working mathematically characteristics, and removed the ‘Mental strategies’ learning objectives. However, working mentally remains an important feature of the Cambridge Primary Mathematics Curriculum Framework.

You have introduced a new concept to Cambridge Primary Mathematics called ‘Thinking and working mathematically’. What does this mean?

We have introduced ‘Thinking and Working Mathematically’ as a key part of our primary mathematics curriculum to assist learners in considering the processes that are involved when solving problems. Thinking and Working Mathematically connects all the strands and learning objectives of the mathematics curriculum to support learners in developing a collection of mathematical strategies.

We describe Thinking and Working Mathematically within the following characteristics:

  • Specialising and Generalising
  • Conjecturing and Convincing
  • Characterising and Classifying
  • Critiquing and Improving.

You can find more information on Thinking and Working Mathematically in the mathematics Curriculum Framework on the Cambridge Primary support site. The Schemes of Work for stages 1 to 6 will also help you understand how to embed Thinking and Working Mathematically in mathematics lessons.

Should my learners study English or English as a Second Language?

Cambridge Primary English is designed for learners who speak English as a first language: those who either speak English at home or have other significant experience of communicating in English (e.g. at an English-speaking kindergarten). It is expected that when learners start Stage 1 of Cambridge Primary English, they will already have:

  • well-developed English speaking and listening skills
  • some experience of reading and writing in English.

Cambridge Primary English as a Second Language is for learners who speak a language other than English at home. There is no expectation that learners will have prior experience of English before starting Stage 1 of Cambridge Primary English as a Second Language.

What are the key changes in Cambridge Primary English?

There are new Speaking and Listening sub-strands and learning objectives to scaffold the development of spoken language and support reading and writing.

We have defined learning objectives more explicitly to clarify links and progression between learning objectives within stages.

What are the key changes in Cambridge Primary English as a Second Language

We have reduced the overall number of learning objectives, especially in the Use of English strand.

We have moved some learning objectives from one stage to another for a better alignment with Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

There is a greater focus on pronunciation and fluency in the strands of Speaking and Writing, and new learning objectives covering pronunciation and fluency have been added to all stages of the Primary curriculum.

We have retained the strands Reading, Listening, Use of English, Writing and Speaking and updated the sub-strands to improve clarity regarding the focus of the learning objectives within the sub-strand and the alignment between the sub-strands.

What are the key changes in Cambridge Primary Science?

We have added a new strand, Earth and Space, which covers content about the planet Earth, the wider Solar System and beyond.

We have retained the strands Biology, Chemistry and Physics, but reorganised, removed, added and edited the content.

We have replaced Scientific Enquiry with a new skills strand, Thinking and Working Scientifically. This provides a broader range of skills learners are expected to develop, including a new focus on developing and understanding scientific models.

We have added a new strand, Science in Context, which provides a framework for how context can be incorporated into the teaching of science and help learners see how science connects to their everyday lives.

What equipment do I need to teach Cambridge Primary Science?

You will find the ‘Cambridge Primary Science Equipment List’ on the primary support site. Most of the suggestions are items that you would find in a home, office or classroom.

What support is there to help me move from the current to the new Cambridge Primary curricula?

We have produced a series of ‘Transition Guides’ to help you implement the changes. Visit the Cambridge Primary support site for more information.

When will the new Cambridge Primary Progression Tests be available?

The new test papers will be updated annually and available to download from the Cambridge Primary support site from January 2022 onwards. In the meantime, there are sample papers on the Cambridge Primary support site so that you can familiarise yourself with the format of the papers and the types of questions that will be asked.

How have Cambridge Primary Progression Tests changed?

For some subjects the number of papers and length of the test has changed. Please refer to the primary support site for detailed information.

How often will you update the new Cambridge Primary Progression Tests?

From January 2022 onwards, we will update the Cambridge Primary Progression Tests every year (as opposed to once every three years, which is our current model).

Can I still download the Cambridge Primary Progression Tests that assess the current curricula after January 2022?

No, we will remove the current test papers from our support sites in December 2021.

Can I still mark Cambridge Primary Progression Tests in school or do we have to submit test papers to Cambridge International for marking?

Yes, teachers will continue to mark the new tests, so you can use them at any time in the year, as many times as needed.

How has Cambridge Primary Checkpoint changed?

From May 2023, Cambridge Primary Checkpoint will assess content from the final stage of the new Cambridge Primary curriculum (Stage 6). Up until and including the October 2022 series, we will assess learners’ knowledge and understanding on content from the existing curriculum stages 4, 5 and 6 inclusive.

When will the new Cambridge Primary Checkpoint tests be available?

From May 2023 onwards.

Will Cambridge still mark the new Cambridge Primary Checkpoint tests?

Yes, you will need to enter your candidates for Cambridge Primary Checkpoint and submit papers to us for marking. Because the tests are internationally benchmarked, you can have extra confidence in the feedback you receive and share with parents.

When will the last Cambridge Primary Checkpoint take place to assess the current curricula?

October 2022 will be the last series.

I want to understand how Cambridge Primary compares to other international or my local programmes. Can you help?

Yes, we have produced a series of mapping documents that compare Cambridge Primary with other programmes, including the English national curriculum and US Common Core / NGSS. Speak to your Country Manager to find out more.

Will publishers update endorsed resources for the new curricula?

Yes, our publishing partners are producing new resources to support the new curriculum frameworks for English, English as a Second Language, mathematics and science.

When will the new endorsed resources be available?

Endorsed resources to support the new curricula will be available in March 2021, well in advance of first teaching. To see the new resources that will be available, go to the Cambridge Primary Resource List

We already have textbooks for the core Cambridge Primary subjects. Can we still use them to support teaching and learning of the new curricula?

There have been changes to the curriculum frameworks so we recommend you use the new endorsed resources. We have carefully checked these resources to make sure that they cover all aspects of the new curriculum frameworks appropriately.

If you wish to continue using previous versions of textbooks, then you will find the transition documents for each subject and stage useful to check which content has changed.

Will there be training for the new curricula?

Yes. We are updating our Introductory and Extension training to reflect the changes to the core subjects. Face-to-face and online options will be available from February 2021 onwards. See our Events and training calendar to find a course near you.

There is also online self-study training that gives you an overview of all Cambridge Primary subjects, accessed via the support site.

What else has changed?

We have redeveloped the Cambridge Primary support site to make it easier to find the resources for each subject. As well as all the new curricula and resources, you will also find new online self-study training that gives an overview of all of the Cambridge Primary subjects. The online self-study training is included in your registration fee.

We have developed three new Challenges for Cambridge Primary Global Perspectives. You can download the Challenges from the support site and start to use them as soon as you are ready.

There are now forums for each of the primary subjects. This will make it easier to connect with teachers round the world who are teaching the same subjects and stages as you. You can find a link to these in the ‘Community’ section of the Cambridge Primary support site.

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