Curriculum Overview

The curriculum is timetabled in a ten day cycle of 50, one hour lessons. The size of our school enables us to cover a wide range of courses and meet students’ individual needs and aptitudes more easily.

Teaching Group Arrangements

At Key Stage 3 there is ability setting in the linear subjects Mathematics and Modern Languages.  In Humanities (Geography, History and RE), Science and English the most able students are set together and in all other subjects there is mixed ability teaching; each population has two groups set by ability and four mixed groups.  At Key Stage 4, more curriculum areas in the core use setting, though there is no setting in the option subjects. Additional support is given to students by the Head of Inclusion, classroom assistants and support teachers.

Movement between groups is possible, frequent and determined by students’ progress. This is constantly monitored through continuous assessment, regular testing, end-of-year examinations and a diagnostic review of the progress of all students.

Curriculum and Student Groupings for Key Stage 3 (Years 7 to 9)

On entry into the school at the age of 11+, students are divided into two mixed ability populations, known as population A and population B, of equal size and each representing the full ability range. In Years 7 to 9 (Key Stage 3), all students follow a broad and enhanced National Curriculum.

In Year 7 the majority of students will take two languages, but by Year 8 this will reduce to about half of the year group and by Year 9 only a few classes will study two languages. However there is a small number of students who do not do Languages in Year 7, this group of students will become larger during Key Stage 3.

Most subjects teach the Key Stage 3 curriculum up to the end of Year 9, though some such as Science, English and Mathematics will commence on the GCSE program of studies whilst in Year 9.  However, the distinction between Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 curriculum will diminish over the coming years, with the change to a 9-1 assessment criteria throughout Years 7 to 11.

Curriculum for Key Stage 4 (Year 10 and Year 11)

In Key Stage 4 of the National Curriculum, students will follow courses leading to GCSE or equivalent qualifications. In Year 9, students select their GCSE courses from a wide range of programmes. All students do the following:

  • GCSE or equivalent English language and Literature
  • GCSE or equivalent Maths
  • GCSE Combined Science (worth two GCSEs)


In addition there are 22 GCSE or Level 2 equivalent options to choose from.

In pursuit of an individual learning programme for all students, we aim to provide a flexible curriculum which allows them to vary the number and type of qualifications they study to suit the particular needs. For the majority of students most follow courses leading to GCSE qualification while others also study vocational courses with their GCSEs. The vast majority (about 75%) follow a combination of courses that reflect the EBACC. Students will secure 11 GCSEs if they take Triple Science and 10 GCSEs if they study Double Science.

Approximately 25% follow a non-EBACC route as they do not take a MFL subject at GCSE and have the option of not studying a Humanities subject. Instead they will take more vocational subjects (Level 2) and have Curriculum studies lessons. This provides teacher support for students to complete homework, improve coursework or revise for any of their subjects. A small minority of those students on the non-EBACC pathway will be selected to receive additional English and Maths support as an option.

Student voice indicates (and has done for a number years) the students and parents find the option process successful. 73% answered ‘Yes’ to the statement “I feel I was well informed to make the right choice” and 77% answered ‘Yes’ to the statement “I am confident that I have made the right choice”.

Curriculum at Key Stage 5 (Year 12 and Year 13)

The current prospectus (for September 2016 entry) offers 40 Level 3 courses

  • 33 are A-Level (24 new linear A level and 7 old modular with AS and A2 units)
  • 4 are vocational BTEC
  • In Year 12, the majority (numbers) of students will do 3 A levels. The entry requirement for this is 8 GCSE or equivalent at grades A*-C including English and Maths (individual subjects may have additional entry requirements beyond this)
  • For students who have achieved between 5 and 7 GCSE or equivalent at grades A*-C including English (Individual subject may have additional entry requirements beyond this)

We recommend these students take a combination of A-level and BTEC Level 3 subjects

  • A very small number of students may wish to study 4 levels, but this is really only an option for students who achieved 7 or more GCSE at grades A*/A
  • Most A-levels are now linear and where this is the case the student will not be entered for an AS examination in that subject at the end of Year 12 unless they intended to drop the subject
  • Any student who has not achieved a grade A*-C in English (Language or Literature)  and Maths is required to re-sit these in Year 12 and Year 13 if necessary
  • Towards the end of Y12 students have the opportunity to undertake the Extended Project. We currently have over 60 students following this course
  • We do not provide Level 2 courses in Year 12 at Key Stage 5
  • Retention from Year 12 to Year 13 is high and was grade 3 (top 25%) by Alps for 2015