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The HTML curriculum

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No, HTML doesn't feature in the national curriculum (sorry to get your hopes up), but it is in HTML.

We're very proud that the programmes of study in the new 2014 national curriculum, published yesterday by the Department for Education (DFE), are all in our HTML publications format.

Our new, national curriculum-approved, style for displaying fractions
Our new, national curriculum-approved, style for displaying fractions

It's a natively digital format which is fully accessible, open, easy to read on all devices, reusable, portable and 'of the web' rather than just on it.

The format on GOV.UK is still relatively young and a work in progress, but we have high hopes that it will become the default way for government to produce long text documents in future.

So we're delighted that DFE has used the format to publish this flagship document. We think it's the biggest test for the format so far.

Here's what DFE had to say about their experience of using it:

The launch of the new national curriculum is a big deal for us – it’s some of the most important content we will publish this year. So we were really keen to use the HTML publication template to publish each programme of study individually as web pages - rather than just as PDFs - and group them together in a document series.

Initially we found that the template was a little inflexible – it forced you to number paragraphs, you couldn’t highlight text in a box, and it was impossible to include fractions correctly for the maths programme of study. We needed to get the HTML versions as close as possible to the PDF versions, to ensure consistency. GDS had to make some changes to the template to accommodate these.

At times it was a little frustrating having to explain why needed to present the information in a certain way. For example, it was important that the fractions were upright rather than diagonal - this follows the academic convention and pupils will potentially get marked down if they represent fractions incorrectly. But once GDS understood that user needs were behind each request, they pulled out all the stops to get the changes made. I think the results look impressive.

Thanks, guys, we do too. But of course, what matters most is what end users think of it, and we've yet to do much research into that. The curriculum is a good opportunity for us to dig into the analytics and start to look at how the format performs against the traditional government PDF.

We've got lots of improvements to the format coming down the pipe, so watch this space.

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  1. Comment by E.A. Brown posted on

    Looks good. We're trying the links to PDFs within the HTML document and finding every one of them is being 'virus checked', although you can navigate directly to the PDF easily.

    Is there any guidance to how to upload both PDFs and HTML, so that the links will work? Do you have to upload & publish PDFs first, then develop HTML? or can you publish all of them at once?

    We'd like to use this solution, so we're keen to hear the best practice.

  2. Comment by Liz Hitchcock posted on

    I'm testing this now; can you tell me the document you've tried it with please? There is no way to link to the PDF until it's been published as you won't know the link.

    We will soon publish some best practice guidance on how to determine if a document can be included on the same publication page as another document (it is things like appendices or covering notes for that document, additional charts or data specific to that document, guidance to accompany an application form). Anything that can't stand alone and is only read in conjunction with that document.

    Anything that might be independently searched for by users should be a publication on its own page, not a PDF attachment on the same page as another publication.

  3. Comment by E.A. Brown posted on

    Hi Liz,

    Thanks for the follow up.

    We tried the first document in the HTML curriculum series, cited in the blog entry:

    Links w/in HTML text to statuatory appendices are still being 'virus checked':

    ...but if you click on them from this page

    ...they work fine.

    These PDFs appear to be part of the HTML publication, rather than published in their own right: perhaps they were published w/ incomplete HTML pub, then linked in a new edition(?).

    Is this acceptable practice? It's the only way I see keeping an HTML pub together with its PDF appendices/attachments.