Access Key Definitions
Skip navigation
Access key details
Home page
Latest updates
Site map
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Terms and conditions

The DfE is conducting a review of the primary and secondary National Curriculum.
This site contains the statutory programmes of study for National Curriculum subjects which maintained schools must follow until a new curriculum is in place.

ICT key stage 3 – programme of study

Statutory content

Programme of study for key stage 3

See related downloads and key actions

Download the full programme of study [pdf 1mb]

The programme of study is made up of:

Importance of ICT key stage 3

The increasing use of technology in all aspects of society makes confident, creative and productive use of ICT an essential skill for life. ICT capability encompasses not only the mastery of technical skills and techniques, but also the understanding to apply these skills purposefully, safely and responsibly in learning, everyday life and employment. ICT capability is fundamental to participation and engagement in modern society. 

ICT can be used to find, develop, analyse and present information, as well as to model situations and solve problems. ICT enables rapid access to ideas and experiences from a wide range of people, communities and cultures, and allows pupils to collaborate and exchange information on a wide scale. ICT acts as a powerful force for change in society and citizens should have an understanding of the social, ethical, legal and economic implications of its use, including how to use ICT safely and responsibly. Increased capability in the use of ICT supports initiative and independent learning, as pupils are able to make informed judgements about when and where to use ICT to enhance their learning and the quality of their work.

Explanatory text


Key concepts of ICT key stage 3

There are a number of key concepts that underpin the study of ICT. Pupils need to understand these concepts in order to deepen and broaden their knowledge, skills and understanding.

1.1 Capability

  1. Using a range of ICT tools in a purposeful way to tackle questions, solve problems and create ideas and solutions of value.

  2. Exploring and using new ICT tools as they become available.

  3. Applying ICT learning in a range of contexts and in other areas of learning, work and life.

1.2 Communication and collaboration

  1. Exploring the ways that ICT can be used to communicate, collaborate and share ideas on a global scale, allowing people to work together in new ways and changing the way in which knowledge is created.

1.3 Exploring ideas and manipulating information

  1. Solving problems creatively by using ICT to explore ideas and try alternatives.

  2. Using ICT to model different scenarios, allowing people to identify patterns and test hypotheses.

  3. Manipulating information and processing large quantities of data efficiently.

1.4 Impact of technology

  1. Exploring how ICT changes the way we live our lives and has significant social, ethical and cultural implications.

  2. Recognising issues of risk, safety and responsibility surrounding the use of ICT.

1.5 Critical evaluation

  1. Recognising that information must not be taken at face value, but must be analysed and evaluated to take account of its purpose, author, currency and context.

  2. Reviewing and reflecting critically on what they and others produce using ICT.

Key processes of ICT key stage 3

These are the essential skills and processes in ICT that pupils need to learn to make progress.

2.1 Finding information

Pupils should be able to:

  1. consider systematically the information needed to solve a problem, complete a task or answer a question, and explore how it will be used

  2. use and refine search methods to obtain information that is well matched to purpose, by selecting appropriate sources

  3. collect and enter quantitative and qualitative information, checking its accuracy

  4. analyse and evaluate information, judging its value, accuracy, plausibility and bias.

2.2 Developing ideas

Pupils should be able to:

  1. select and use ICT tools and techniques appropriately, safely and efficiently

  2. solve problems by developing, exploring and structuring information, and deriving new information for a particular purpose

  3. test predictions and discover patterns and relationships, exploring, evaluating and developing models by changing their rules and values

  4. design information systems and suggest improvements to existing systems

  5. use ICT to make things happen by planning, testing and modifying a sequence of instructions, recognising where a group of instructions needs repeating, and automating frequently used processes by constructing efficient procedures that are fit for purpose

  6. bring together, draft and refine information, including through the combination of text, sound and image.

2.3 Communicating information

Pupils should be able to:

  1. use a range of ICT tools to present information in forms that are fit for purpose, meet audience needs and suit the content

  2. communicate and exchange information (including digital communication) effectively, safely and responsibly

  3. use technical terms appropriately and correctly.

2.4 Evaluating

Pupils should be able to:

  1. review, modify and evaluate work as it progresses, reflecting critically and using feedback

  2. reflect on their own and others’ uses of ICT to help them develop and improve their ideas and the quality of their work

  3. reflect on what they have learnt and use these insights to improve future work.

Explanatory text

Explore: This could include discussing the information with peers, teachers or the project team.

Refine search methods: For example, developing a single-criterion search into a search with multiple criteria, or using the advanced search functions in most search engines or Boolean (logical) operators (and, or, +, –, not).

Checking its accuracy: For example, by rechecking data entry and comparing with other sources.

Judging its value, accuracy, plausibility and bias: This includes taking account of the source of the information to make judgements on its plausibility, accuracy, completeness, currency and reliability, and to assess bias and partiality.

Efficiently: For example, using master pages and slides, programs to compress graphic files, navigational menus and automated features, templates and macros.

Solve problems: For example, reaching conclusions by exploring, combining, manipulating, synthesising and repurposing information; deriving totals from raw data; transforming data from numeric table to graphical interpretation; and organising information by using appropriate data types and data structures, including non-linear structuring such as hyperlinks.

Developing models: This could include:

  • using a computer model to explore real and/or imaginary scenarios

  • exploring possibilities by answering ‘What if…?’ questions

  • testing and exploring cause and effect.

Rules and values: For example, altering variables and formulae in a spreadsheet model.

Planning, testing and modifying: For example, using HTML to create web pages and using other programming software and control programs.

Automating: For example, saving sequences of instructions as component parts.

Refine information: This could include improving quality and adapting to feedback.

Effectively: Effective communication must be sensitive to the target audience (eg appropriate form, style and convention must be considered) and efficient in transferring information.

Safely and responsibly: When using digital communications, pupils should develop an understanding of safe practices and follow them. For example, they should be cautious about sharing personal information and viewing and uploading digital content. They should also recognise the need to show respect towards others.

Reflecting critically: This could include self-review, peer evaluation and user or audience feedback. Pupils should judge both the quality of their work and how effectively they have used ICT.

Range and content of ICT key stage 3

This section outlines the breadth of the subject on which teachers should draw when teaching the key concepts and key processes.

The study of ICT should include:

  1. use of a range of information, with different characteristics, structures and purposes, and evaluation of how it matches requirements and its fitness for purpose

  2. use of a variety of information sources, including large data sets, in a range of contexts

  3. use and review of the effectiveness of different ICT tools, including a range of software applications, in terms of meeting user needs and solving problems

  4. developing an understanding of the need to:

  1. the impact of ICT on individuals, communities and society, including the social, economic, legal and ethical implications of access to, and use of, ICT.

Explanatory text

Software applications: For example, multimedia, desktop publishing, image manipulation, sound manipulation, word processing, spreadsheets, graphics, web browsers and email.

Safe working practices: For example, adjusting seating and lighting, avoiding hazards, taking breaks, arranging hardware and cables safely and using wrist rests and other devices where appropriate.

Keep information secure: For example, keeping copies safe, backing up work and protecting passwords or PINs to avoid identity theft.

Organisation, storage and access: For example, using appropriate file names, classifying folders in a meaningful way, using password protection and using back-up files.

The impact of ICT: This could include: issues relating to ownership, copyright, plagiarism and privacy of information; effects on employment and working practices; effects on local communities; sustainability issues; the causes and implications of unequal access to ICT locally, nationally and globally; and the abuse of ICT, including the issue of cyber bullying.

Curriculum opportunities of ICT key stage 3

During the key stage pupils should be offered the following opportunities that are integral to their learning and enhance their engagement with the concepts, processes and content of the subject.

The curriculum should provide opportunities for pupils to:

  1. make choices about when and where it is appropriate to exploit technology to support them in their learning and everyday life

  2. work creatively and collaboratively

  3. be independent, discriminating and reflective when choosing when to use technology

  4. apply ICT to real-world situations when solving problems and carrying out a range of tasks and enquiries

  5. share their views and experiences of ICT, considering the range of its uses and its significance to individuals, communities and society

  6. use ICT in other subjects and areas of learning with contexts that are relevant and interesting to them.

Explanatory text

Appropriate to exploit technology: Pupils should be encouraged to be discriminating in their choice of when, where and how to use ICT.

Collaboratively: This includes using learning communities and working together to create a solution to a problem.

Real-world situations: This could include case studies based on or drawn from examples outside the school environment (eg information systems used in the local community).

What to do now

You should consider looking at:

Back to top