The school has recently completed a 12-month review of the curriculum to ensure it remains broad, challenging, dynamic, engaging, and that it continues to enable to every pupil to achieve their potential regardless of ability, gender, social background or ethnic origin. Full details of the new curriculum will appear here very shortly.
As part of the curriculum review, we consulted parents on our proposed changes and the results of the survey can be viewed by clicking here. As you will see from the responses, parents were generally very supportive of the proposed changes and we received many positive comments, for which we are extremely grateful. A lot of the comments or questions we received were very similar in nature; please see below for the school’s response to the most common points raised.
The plan below shows how many 1 hour periods of each subject pupils will receive across the fortnightly timetable cycle when we implement the new curriculum in September 2017. Please note that year 11 pupils next year will conclude the second year of a two-year programme.
Curriculum review parent survey responses
You said- I think there is an excellent range of subjects offered, both academic and vocational
Our response– We’ve worked hard over recent years to develop a broad curriculum offer which meets the needs of all pupils. We recognise the value of both academic and vocational courses for pupils. We are pleased this has been recognised and thank you for your comment.
You said- We fully support the move to increase the amount of English and maths time in line with other schools. How will the extra time be spent?
Our response- Both the English and maths department are working hard to adapt their teaching schemes to ensure pupils are well prepared for the demands of the new, more rigorous, GCSE courses. Additional time allocated in maths will be used to allow pupils to develop a full understanding of the new and more demanding content within the maths curriculum. A key focus of the new maths GCSE is the requirement for pupils to problem solve and as such some of the additional time at key stage 3 will be used to provide pupils with every opportunity to apply their knowledge and understanding to real life problems and contexts. Additional time in English will allow pupils to a) improve basic literacy levels, b) become familiar with a wider range of more challenging literary and non-fiction texts, and c) develop the skills required to engage with these texts, which will be of the kind included in new GCSE English Language and Literature exams.
You said- I would like two languages to remain an option.
Our response- The vast majority of pupils will continue to study two languages in years 7 & 8. We ask pupils to choose just one language in year 9 in order to help them prepare for the new reformed GCSE languages courses which provide a greater level of challenge. This doesn’t reduce GCSE choices and pupils are still free to choose to study two languages at GCSE should they wish
You said- I am concerned that the arts subjects are being squeezed out of the curriculum
Our response- As a school, we have always prided ourselves on the broad curriculum we offer to pupils. We firmly believe the arts subjects play a key part in this. This was one of the driving forces behind the decision to maintain the opportunity for pupils to study four options at GCSE. The school continues to offer the full range of arts related subjects within the options process that it has offered historically.
You said- Pupils study too many subjects which results in too much homework due to a lack of curriculum time.
Our response- As a community school, the range of subjects we offer is determined by the national curriculum. At key stage 3 our curriculum offer is very similar to most schools nationally. We recognise the challenges the reformed GCSE qualifications bring at GCSE and as such have removed the requirement for pupils to sit formal examinations in religious studies and computing. These remain as option choices however for those pupils still wishing to gain formal qualifications in either of the subjects. We are working hard to ensure our homework offer is firmly focused on reinforcing learning and helping pupils to address gaps in their knowledge. Quality of homework is always our priority over quantity. We recognise we still have work to do in relation to our homework offer
You said- We would prefer fewer options with subjects covered in greater depth
Our response- See comment above. The school does offer a reduced pathway of three option subjects at GCSE for those pupils for whom four GCSEs would prove too challenging.
You said- I am concerned at the loss of options such as geology, textiles, catering etc.
Our response- Our options offer to pupils in year 9 remains as broad as ever. The reason why some courses have not run is simply down to a lack of pupils opting to study the courses. Unfortunately, with a finite and ever decreasing budget, it simply isn’t economically viable to run some courses with limited pupil numbers. We will continue to offer these subjects within the options process and hope more student opt to study them so we can run a viable group.
You said- The reason given in the letter is national changes. School should be honest that money is also a driving force to stop GCSE courses.
Our response- We do not deny that money is extremely tight and, as you will be aware from the national press, funding in schools is only going to get tighter in future years. That said, money is not the driving force behind this curriculum review. Increased curriculum time in English and maths has meant the school has appointed additional English and maths teachers who will join the school in September. As mentioned above, some GCSE courses do not run due to too few pupils choosing to study the course. We always endeavour to offer as many courses as possible and are very proud of our curriculum offer at key stage 4.
You said- Reducing RE is not sensible in the current climate where understanding other cultures and religions is important.
Our response- We completely agree it is essential for pupils to develop a good understanding of different cultures and religions. For this reason, we have increased the amount of curriculum time for religious and personal social health and citizenship education (RPSHCE) in year 9 by 1 hour. At key stage 4, removing the requirement for pupils to sit a GCSE exam in RE means more time in lessons can be dedicated to developing pupils understanding of the world around them. Pupils will also experience “drop down” days where the normal timetable is suspended for a day and pupils spend time focusing on different aspects RPSHCE led by school staff and external experts.
You said- Could this be solved by pupils taking their options in year 8?
Our response- This was something we considered as part of the curriculum review. Several years ago, many schools brought forward their options process to year 8. For a lot of schools, the reason for this however was to allow pupils to sit GCSE examinations in year 10 and then spend year 11 focusing on retaking exams. This practise was widely criticised by the department for education and OFSTED and as such many schools have returned to offering the options process in year 9. We currently believe pupils need more time to experience the key stage 3 curriculum so they can make informed options choices at the end of year 9. For core subjects however, there is the opportunity to bring in key stage 4 content earlier than the start of year 10.