We believe that ‘powerful knowledge’ can ‘enable students to acquire knowledge that takes them beyond their experiences’ (Young et al., 2014). We believe this is particularly important in disadvantaged contexts in relation to social justice. It is our belief that it is the educational right of the child to receive a comprehensive education committed to academic excellence – regardless of background or social standing. Our knowledge-based curriculum attempts to provide young people with a school experience that enables them to be socially mobile, for this is at the core of what social justice is: enabling all people, regardless of socio-economic background, to be provided with the opportunities to succeed in life. Put simply, we want to improve life chances by giving our student life choices.
Our Curriculum Journey
Two years of extensive educational research, staff development and training based the ‘Science of Learning’, changes to the National Curriculum (KS2-5), the introduction of more challenging exam syllabi and our desire to ensure the very best learning experience for our students led us, in October 2018, undertake a full review of our curriculum. Due to the pandemic, we further developed our curriculum by designing a remote curriculum for March 2020-July2021 still ensuring full curriculum coverage. In the summer term of 2021 all departments undertook a full review of their curriculum to identify and address gaps in key knowledge, skills and understanding caused by students learning remotely. Thus, the sequencing of schemes of learning were updated to address gaps in skills and content and allow learners to 'close the gap'. The schemes of learning can be found on our subject pages on the website.
Throughout the design of their curriculums we asked our curriculum teams to consider the following questions:
- KS2-3 Transition: What knowledge and skills did our students learn/experience in primary?
- Intent: What is the purpose of teaching your subject?
- Content: What knowledge and skills are you going to teach them?
- Sequencing: What order are you going to ‘teach things’?
- Rationale: What is the rationale for your sequence? How does it build knowledge?
- Key Skills: What are the key skills students will learn?
- Disciplinary literacy: How will you develop Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary?
- Reading: How will you ensure reading is taught and embedded within your department?
- Assessment (Formative and Summative): How will you measure attainment and progress? How will you ensure gaps are ‘filled’?
- SMSC: How does your curriculum facilitate a students’ social, cultural, spiritual and cultural development?
- Personal Development: How does your curriculum contribute to our students’ holistic development?
- Cultural Capital: What experiences do you facilitate for your students beyond your lessons to enable them to acquire ‘knowledge beyond their experiences’ (Young, 2014)?
- Careers: How do you ensure students understand the import of your subject in students’ aspirations?
- Impact: How do you know your curriculum is ‘Good’?
This page introduces the nature of our curriculum, including its intent and design. Further details of the curriculum for each subject can be found on our subject pages and within our Curriculum Policy, 2022.
The curriculum is the single best opportunity that a school has to improve the life chances of its students. According to Christine Counsell and Michael Fordham, “the curriculum is a progression model” and means that we can assess that students are moving forward in their learning, year on year to ensure students ‘know more and remember more’. The curriculum is split into four connected parts:
The macro-curriculum – the model of timetabling that a school chooses to use. This includes subjects selected to teach, the hours allocated for a subject to be taught, and the configuration of this allocation of time. This is the outer framework that a school chooses to use.
The formal-curriculum – the learning, skills and knowledge that makes up the subjects, the actual material that has been chosen to be taught in a specific sequence and the application of proven strategies from the field of cognitive science. This encompasses the knowledge and skills that we wish for students to demonstrate. This is the content and pedagogy that fills a school’s outer framework.
The hidden curriculum – the unintended consequences of learning and lessons, of norms, values, and beliefs around concepts such as gender, ethnicity, culture, or sexuality, by thinking about not just what is taught but also how it is framed.
The extended-curriculum – this encompasses the learning and experiences that takes place outside of lesson time. Gateacre offers a wide range of extra-curricular activities delivered by staff in school, such as: a variety of sports clubs, music workshops, drama club, chess club, STEM club, LGBTQ+ (Kaleidoscope) and food club. As well as this, our students are exposed to a range of cultural events such as: attending the Opera, the theatre and engaging in arts events. Further, opportunities for personal enrichment are offered such as: Duke of Edinburgh Award and World Challenge trips as well as engagement with the wider world and their own citizenship. This is the content that helps to add character and personality to our school’s framework.
At Gateacre our vision is to create:
· Successful learners who enjoy learning; make good progress and achieve excellence.
· Confident individuals who are able to live safe, healthy and fulfilling lives.
· Responsible citizens who can make a positive contribution to society.
We aim for our curriculum to be one that:
· Equips students with powerful knowledge in all of its forms
· Provides opportunities for students to develop interests and passion
· Enables students to develop cultural capital and become critical thinkers
· Empowers students to become masters of subjects they study now, and in the future
· Supports students in practising skills within subject-domains
· Engages students through personalisation
· Challenges students with ambitious content
· Is constantly evolving
· Encourages students to make links across other subjects
· Encourages students to take their learning outside of the classroom
· Is detailed, coherent and rigorous
· Is built to allow learning to last
We teach a curriculum that offers both breadth and depth. Students are enriched by learning powerful, foundational knowledge across our 3 year Key Stage 3 that builds into Key Stages 4 and 5. Subject specialists educate their students with the aim of developing ‘mastery’, incrementally over time through a range of strategies that draw on cognitive science based on evidence of their success, such as: retrieval, interleaving, direct instruction, modelling desired outcomes, and deliberate practice.
At Key Stage 3 students enjoy reading for pleasure through our Tutor Time Reading Programme.
KS3 Curriculum (Y7-Y9)
We have a very broad KS3 Curriculum covering 14 subjects meeting all the national curriculum requirements. This is taught in 25 hours of contact time each week.
In Year 7 students will sit a baseline assessment and undertake a transition programme in all subject curriculum areas. A ‘Nurture Group’ is formed for more vulnerable learners to support them both academically and emotionally as they venture into our secondary setting. Some of our students are entitled to be a part of the ‘Catch up Literacy’ and/or ‘Catch up Numeracy’ programme if they did not achieve the expected standard in their KS2 assessments. This is co-ordinated carefully with Subject Leaders and our SEND Co-ordinator. KS3 will build on the fundamentals of KS2 and prepare learners for KS4.
Year 7, 8 and 9
The curriculum includes:
Modern Foreign Language (MFL), Spanish
Humanities – History and Geography
Creative Arts – Art, Drama, Music, Design &Technology, and Food Studies
Personal Development- PSHE, RSHE and Citizenship and Careers
For students who are behind in their chronological reading age, additional support is provided through withdrawal to enable them to rapidly catch up.
An additional after-school enrichment programme includes a range of sporting activities, music (including variety of instruments and choir), drama (including) Technology Club, Art activities and Community Programmes. There is daily support for homework in the Inclusion Base and free to use computer pods.
KS4 Curriculum (Y10 & Y11)
The KS4 curriculum in Years 10 and 11 offers a breadth of subjects. Our Options process at the end of Year 9 is based on the interests, abilities and aptitude of students. They are fully supported at an individual level to help them choose the subjects that are appropriate for them and their destinations post-16. We offer an impressive range of GCSE and Vocational qualifications and adapt every year to meet the needs and aspirations of the students.
All students have the opportunity to complete the full English Baccalaureate suite of subjects. The school provides guided choices at KS3, whilst building on the strengths and interests of the individual and maintaining breadth and balance, which is built on the intent for their aspirations for the future and is ultimately equitable for the student. Indeed, all students at KS4 will receive appropriate advice and guidance to ensure they are supported fully in making the most suitable options. The outcome of the KS4 curriculum is learners will be obtaining a wide range of GCSEs to Vocational Qualifications over the course of the two years, which have been built on the foundations delivered during the course of KS3.
KS4 Curriculum Offer
The curriculum includes:
- Physical Education
- Personal Development: Careers, Citizenship, PSHE, Reading and RSHE
- Science (Trilogy)
Optional Subjects (they choose four of the following):
- Art & Design
- Business Studies
- Design Technology
- Food & Cookery
- Graphic Design
- Health and Social Care
- Media Studies
- Modern Foreign Language (MFL): Spanish
- Religious Studies
- Spanish (Other languages can be studied after school if pupils wish to do so).
- Sports Science
Pathways to GCSE
We have a fully inclusive curriculum at KS4; students are not restricted in their subject choices. They follow a Career and Personal Development programme which enables them to make well-informed and guided choices. Further, they have interviews with senior staff to help them make choices.
Additional GCSEs, Equivalents and other Recognized Qualifications
Outside regular curriculum time students have opportunities to obtain accreditation in other disciplines such as music and Duke of Edinburgh Award.
KS5 Curriculum (Years 12 &13)
We have a small school 6th Form where we ensure we enable our young people to successfully enter the next stage of their learning journey be it at university, advanced level apprenticeship or employment.
Students can select from a range of Level 3 Qualifications.
A’ levels offered:
- Applied Science
- English Language
- English Literature
- Further Mathematics
- Music Technology (Sound Engineering)
- Sports Science
For further details about our KS5 Subjects please click here
An additional after school wide-ranging enrichment programme includes a variety of sporting activities; music (including orchestra and choir); Drama; additional languages and STEM Club. There is daily support for homework in both the Library and the computing pods. Extra Study Support is also in place especially for KS4 and KS5 depending on the individual’s learning needs.