Our Curriculum: a rationale
Our curriculum is designed to provide a challenging, rigorous, engaging and broad experience for able and ambitious students. Our drive is towards the highest possible quality of education provision for all learners in our school community. All students, regardless of need, gender, ethnicity and background, are guided to challenge themselves and achieve their full potential. We expect students to be independent thinkers, emotionally resilient, empathetic, reflective, well-behaved and socially responsible. Our curriculum aims to ensure that they are prepared to make a constructive contribution to society as a result of the experiences they encounter, and the example set by others.
Knowledge and understanding
At the heart of our curriculum is the core principle that progress is based on what students know and understand. The National Curriculum is used as a starting block at Key Stage 3, as are exam specifications at GCSE and A-level, but departments are free to build on and extend these in any ways that they see fit to ensure maximum progress. Curriculum coherence comes from linking a knowledge-based curriculum to the acquisition of skills. Our aim is for students to know more, remember more and apply their learning to new contexts. In designing our curriculum, we have ensured that our departmental leaders have identified the body of knowledge and skills that they want their students to master by the end of each Key Stage. This thinking has helped to form the Departmental Standards in each subject at Key Stage 3, which shows students how they can make progress from Standard 1 to a maximum of Standard 6. Through mid- and end- of year assessments we track students’ performance and progress against these Standards. Low stakes and more formal assessment as a routine part of learning ensures that information is retained and persistently re-enforced through recall and reinforcement.
Each subject is sequenced by departmental leaders using their departmental intent as a starting point. Schemes of Learning are designed so that knowledge and skills are built up and revisited over time, and so that knowledge and understanding is developed in a progressive and logical way. Subjects have designed discreet Key Stage 3 intents, and matched these to their Schemes of Learning, so it is clear how their intent is to be fulfilled. If students choose not to pursue a subject beyond Year 9, they will still have had sufficient exposure to the skills and knowledge of the subject to be able to achieve up to a Standard 6. This is fundamental to our proposal that our curriculum is broad and ambitious for all students.
Whilst there is a discreet subject intent for Key Stage 3, the knowledge and understanding built up from Years 7-9 have obvious benefits for GCSE and A-levels further down the line. Indeed, Key Stage 3 outcomes are not just an end product in themselves, but a valuable step for future learning. Therefore, by the time they get into their GCSE exams, the curriculum, built up from Year 7, will mean that students should be able to perform effectively, independently and with resilience.
Our curriculum is also well integrated, and the skills and knowledge students develop across subjects. For example, the reference above to reaching justified conclusions in History would be cemented and reinforced by work in the English and Geography curricula. This helps to create flow and ensures that knowledge is retained without resistance.
At Key Stage 3 we encourage creativity and risk. We aim to encourage creativity by having a wide range of practical subjects, as well as encouraging creative thinking within traditional academic subjects. We believe that this is a useful way of allowing students to tackle complex questions. For example, we encourage and see a lot of open-ended enquiry-based approaches, giving students as much ownership of the tasks as possible and allowing them to think and be creative in their approaches.
Knowledge and understanding is developed beyond lessons in our broad extra-curricular programme. Our extra-curricular opportunities are a significant strength of the CGS offer. They support students’ education and wider personal development and have a positive impact on behaviour and attitudes. We run over 50 weekly clubs in a wide range of subject or extracurricular themes, increasing students’ experience of cultural capital. Our House system enables students to mix across year groups in a broad and inclusive range of music, sporting and drama activities, amongst others. We are a Duke of Edinburgh Centre and run activities at Gold, Silver and Bronze level: over 100 students per year take part. Not only are these kind of activities vital in developing students’ ability to be resilient, empathetic and socially responsible, it can also have obvious benefits to the rest of the curriculum in areas like organisation, persuasion and developing critical thinking skills.
PSHCE and RSE
As part of our cohesive approach, our PSHCE and RSE curriculums are not add-ons: they are an integral part of our curriculum intent. These programmes are reviewed frequently and expose students to challenging material which enables them to develop an understanding of the world. A strong understanding of safeguarding, an awareness of what it means to have positive mental health, and a positive and engaged approach to the options available for students’ next steps are all integral to our curriculum intent. Our curriculum is therefore driven by what is right and good as well as preparing students for the demands of the society into which they will eventually take a full and active role.
Inclusivity and building on mistakes
Our curriculum aims to be rigorous and engaging for all learners. We aim for fast-paced lesson sequencing, which has a high level of challenge and extension tasks to ensure that no student is being allowed to coast. Our aim is to help SEND and disadvantaged students to embrace and tackle as many challenges as possible, rather than restricting their curriculum. We promote the idea of obstacles and challenge being a good thing and useful to learners in the long run. Whilst we always reward and credit success, we don’t pretend to students that every answer they give is correct, and we encourage them to use challenge and mistakes to build on their knowledge and understanding. We believe that this makes them more willing to take risks and to be resilient in examinations.
In summary, it is essential for a selective school to offer a curriculum which is challenging, rigorous, engaging and broad, and which sees students engage with a world in which they will be– and some already are – making a significant contribution. We therefore seek for students to build up a body of knowledge and skills, and to empower them to make choices which are right for themselves, their families and, in the long term, their communities. We are proud that our curriculum is designed to allow students to thrive in the face of challenge of an ever-changing world.
Curriculum structure and logistics.
We work a 45-period week over five days. There are 9 periods in a day, 5 periods before Lunch and 4 periods after. We have breaks at mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Our lunch hour lasts one hour and five minutes, enabling students to pursue extra-curricular interests, on our split site.
Students in Key Stage 3 study English, Maths, Science, Computing, History, Geography, Modern Languages, Art, Music, Design and Technology, Religious Education, Physical Education and RSE & PSHCE. Our approach to Science treats Biology, Chemistry and Physics as separate subjects. In Year 7 students will study German or French as their first language. In Year 8, students study the other one of these languages or Latin.
Personal, Social, Health, Citizenship and Economic Education (PSHCE) is delivered in a number of ways: through a programme of PSHCE lessons directed by Heads of Section and taught by tutors, through assemblies and through a series of visiting speakers covering Living in the Wider World, Health & Wellbeing and Relationships. In Year 9, we have an additional lesson strengthening our provision for Relationships & Sex Education (RSE). This programme and our curriculum emphasise an inclusive approach, personalised learning approaches and follow assessment for learning strategies.
At Key Stage 4, Years 10 and 11 students’ study ten subjects for GCSE. The basic ten are English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, a Language (French, German or Latin), Triple Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) a humanities subject (History or Geography) and two optional subjects chosen from Art, Computer Science, Design & Technology, French, Geography, German, History, Latin, Music, PE and Religious Education. At the core of our curriculum is the EBacc. All students in Key Stage 4 also take courses in Religious Education, RSE, PSHE (which includes Careers and Citizenship) and Physical Education. Some students have the opportunity to take Level 2 Further Mathematics.
The School offers breadth of choice at ‘A’ level; most of our students will study three ‘A’ levels. Some students may choose to study four ‘A’ levels. We expect and encourage students to choose subjects, for the right reasons, especially enjoyment, career choice and ability in that subject. The subjects that we offer are Art & Design, Biology, Chemistry, Computing, Classics, Design & Technology, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Music, English Literature, French, Geography, German, Government & Politics, Physical Education, Physics, Psychology and Religious Studies. We advise students who choose a fourth ‘A’ level that breadth should be a real consideration, as should academic prowess.
In addition, all Sixth Formers will have the opportunity to be involved in a programme aimed at enriching their academic studies. This programme will include sport, Performing Arts Leadership Award, Sport Leadership award, private study, work experience placements, volunteering, the Extended Project Qualification and the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme at Gold level.
Similar to Key stage 3 and 4 , Personal, Social, Health, Economic Education (PSHE) is delivered in a number of ways: through a programme of tutor lessons, assemblies and through a series of special days and occasions. We offer dedicated support in our curriculum to the students making the next step from Caistor Grammar School into the world of work or Higher Education.
Our curriculum is accessible to all students. You can read our SEND policy here. [link]
You can read how our curriculum links with our Equality Objectives [link]
You can contact Mr Marcus Croft (Assistant Head, Teaching & Learning) to ask about our curriculum via email@example.com