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Our Curriculum Journey

In 2019 we reviewed our curriculum. At the time we had a 2 year KS3 and a 3 year KS4. We decided to change to a 3 year KS3 as students were dropping National Curriculum subjects at the end of Year 8 and therefore not having another year of experiencing them.

In planning our curriculum we agreed on our curriculum intent and the aims of our curriculum.

Curriculum intent - To instil the knowledge, skills and cultural capital… to lead a fulfilling life.

  • Inclusive and accessible to all students.
  • Enjoyable, ambitious and challenging.
  • Sequenced from one lesson to the next and from one year to the next.
  • Builds across subjects.
  • Knowledge and experience rich.
  • Contains key knowledge which is identified, taught and retained.
  • Schemes of work and lessons which can be adapted to meet the individual needs of students.
  • Curriculum takes in to account the impact of Covid and that students may have gaps in knowledge, learning delays and different starting points.
  • The curriculum has been designed so that students read at an age appropriate level
  • A 3 Year KS3 which goes beyond the National Curriculum.
  • A 2 Year KS4 which allows students to access academic and vocational courses.
  • A flexible curriculum that can be changed to meet the needs of the students depending on what is happening in the locality, community and the world.
  • Provides students with lifelong knowledge, skills and experiences.
    Instil our core values of Respect, Resilience, Integrity, Compassion and Ambition.

In 2019 we asked subject leaders to create a skeleton framework identifying content, cross-curricular links and extra-curricular opportunities for each term from Year 7 to 9. We used this as a starting point to see how the curriculum flowed from one year to the next and across subjects.

We also looked at how we could improve the education we offer and undertook widespread research. We felt we needed a better understanding of how the human mind works, for example we used Daniel T Willingham ‘Why Don’t Students Like School’ to have discussions with staff. This helped us understand the importance of memorising key information to free up the working memory.

Why students dont like school

Knowledge organisers

We asked subject leaders to identify the key information they wanted students to know and memorise. This was the start of our knowledge organisers. Over a 3 year period we created knowledge organisers for students in Years 7 to 11. We have evaluated how they are used and have re-written them. We will continue to do this each year as we make changes to the curriculum to meet the needs of the students. Copies of the knowledge organisers are on this section of the website. The quote from the Ofsted School Inspection Handbook supports our work creating and using the knowledge organisers.

Learning can be defined as an alteration in long-term memory. If nothing has altered in long-term memory, nothing has been learned.’ 

Common content of schemes of work

  • Vocabulary for instruction (not just key words but etymology).
  • Recall Starters.
  • Interleaving e.g. low stakes tests.
  • Purple Challenge (every lesson).
  • Reference to cross-curricular links.
  • Guidance for non-specialists, NQTs or less experienced staff eg common misconceptions.
  • Consistent approaches.
  • Go beyond the National Curriculum, cultural capital.
  • Opportunities for extra-curricular activities.
  • Notes for lessons in schemes of work, Powerpoint presentations or ActivInspire flipcharts.

Subject intent statements

As well as having an overarching curriculum intent statement, subject leaders have written separate subject intent statements. The subject intent statements outline in general terms what the subject area aims to teach and why.

Our KS3 curriculum model

From September 2020 we changed our KS3 curriculum model to 3 years. In Years 7 and 8 we created a Rhetoric course to help students with their confidence and oracy. In Year 9 all students take all the National Curriculum subjects. They also take business studies, media and photography. We chose these subjects as we believe there is important content and experiences in these subjects that all students should experience. These subjects are not externally examined in Year 9 and students do not have to take them in Year 10. 

*The PSHE curriculum is also taught in form time and through assemblies.

Click on the link to view subjects and number of lessons - Structure of the Curriculum

Guided Choices – Year 9 into 10

All students are guided with their choices for Year 10. This is to provide them with the best chance of success, as well as ensuring that their curriculum is broad, balanced and enjoyable. In 2022 and 2023, students were identified onto 2 pathways. Students on Pathway 1 follow an EBacc route. Students on Pathway 2 take a humanities subject (history, geography) but can also take an MFL subject if they wish (French, Spanish or Mandarin). This way as many students as possible can take an academic EBacc route. We also run A levels in French and Spanish in our Sixth Form so students can progress to a level 3 qualification. 

Sequencing our curriculum

We worked with our subject leaders so they understood the importance of sequencing their curriculum. So they could explain why they were teaching a particular topic at a particular time and that the curriculum would be increasingly demanding and broaden and deepen students’ knowledge.

We asked subject leaders to put more detail on their skeleton curriculum plans. From this we created a spreadsheet for KS3 (Year 7,8 and 9) showing all subjects.

Sequencing our curriculum

This allowed us to looked across subjects term by term and from one year to the next. We had meetings with subject leaders to look at the sequencing of their subjects. In some subject areas we moved topics around and changed topics to make them more demanding.

In Year 10 and 11 subject leaders changed their curriculum model from 3 years to 2 years. The challenge was reducing the amount of time they had previously had to teach the specifications. This involved re-writing the KS4 schemes of work. We also adjusted our KS4 calendar so that subjects had the

Cross-curricular definition and work

By looking at the sequencing of topics we could see that there were clear cross-curricular links between subjects. To be able to articulate this clearly we created our own definitions, see the photo below;

Cross curriculur definition

We have introduced the terms ‘Prime’ and ‘Reinforce’ in our cross-curricular work. So that teachers either;

Prime students for future knowledge in another subject,

(For example; If a mathematical technique is required in science but has not been taught yet in maths, science would teach the topic using the consistent methods used in maths and make reference to it.)


Reinforce previous knowledge in another subject.

(For example; If a topic being taught in history has already been taught in English, then history would build on the topic and make reference to it.)

The curriculum plan for all subjects and terms from Year 7 to 11 has been compiled in a spreadsheet. Cross-curricular links are identified in the spreadsheet as Primed or Reinforced.

Departments have identified the cross-curricular links in their lessons using the icons below;

Primed and Reinforced

Modifications to the curriculum due to Covid

Subject Leaders looked at their curriculum and made necessary modifications due to Covid. This included identifying topics taught in lockdown and when they would be revisited. Also topics that were critical for progressions and when they would be taught and topics which could be missed out. We used the DfE guidance below;

Teaching a broad and balanced curriculum

Below is an example from science in Year 9;

Science in year 9

Subject associations

Subjects leaders have identified the subject associations they have joined to help their curriculum development or staff professional development. We have used the work produced by Mary Myatt and John Tomsett in their book ‘Huh’.


Ofsted curriculum research reviews

Ofsted have published research reviews to support and inform those leading the subject education in school. Subject leaders have received them for the subjects that are available. To support all subject leaders we have designed a proforma for them to provide evidence and RAG rate against a number of criteria. This then feeds into their subject development plans.

And finally

We are very proud of the work we have done to develop our curriculum. All teaching staff have been involved in writing and developing curriculum resources. We believe we have an excellent curriculum which meet the aims we set out to originally achieve.

We believe students will have better experiences, have better knowledge, will make more progress and be more prepared for life, employment and the world they live in as a result.