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Our Current Curriculum Model 2017-2018

Click here to view our curriculum options booklet for students to be examined 2020

Click here to view our curriculum options booklet for students to be examined 2019

Click here to view our curriculum options booklet for students to be examined 2018

Click here to view our curriculum options booklet for students to be examined 2017

Principles of the Curriculum

  • Learners are at the centre of a curriculum  that aims to:
   - Develop their meta-cognitive skills (the ability to think deeply);
   - Acquire and use a good depth and breadth of knowledge;
   - Inspire motivation to learn;
   - Encourage study and a scholarly attitude;
   - Raise the achievement of our young people to enable them to compete nationally and internationally
   - Actively promote the values of modern Britain including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, .....mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.
   - Enable students to progress to the most appropriate next step in their education.
  • Our Co-operative curriculum also acknowledges the socio-cultural nature of learning – and actively encourages well-organised co-operative learning (based on the latest OECD research).  Co-operative group work, appropriately organised and structured, has demonstrated very clear benefits for achievement as well as for behavioural and emotional outcomes. (See the Ofsted Sept 2012 ‘Best Practice in UK’ report.) Co-operative methods work for all types of students because, done well, they push learners of all abilities.
  • Personal research and self-study are important, and the opportunities for independent learning builds on our excellent transition work with the LASC academic council and grows as students mature. It becomes a very important part of our post 16 curriculum. The capacity to continuously learn and apply/integrate new knowledge and skills has never been more essential.  Our students should become self-directed, lifelong learners, especially as they are preparing for jobs that do not yet exist, to use technologies that have not yet been invented, and to solve problems that are not yet even recognised as problems.  Lifelong learning – the ability continuously to develop over one’s life span – is essential so that each citizen may be able to access the requisite resources and support in order to learn the content and competencies they need. 
  • We recognise that motivation and emotions are integral to learning – and therefore underpin the curriculum with outstanding advice and support (Ofsted 2012) thereby ensuring that students are happy, socially responsible citizens.  Students are more motivated to engage in learning when:


  1. They see what is in it for them.
  2. They feel competent to do what is expected of them.
  3. They value the subject and have a clear sense of purpose.
  4. They perceive the environment as favourable for learning.
  5. They experience positive emotions towards learning activities.
  6. They can manage their resources and deal with obstacles efficiently.


  • We recognise individual differences –  Students differ in many ways fundamental to learning: prior knowledge, ability, conceptions of learning, learning styles and strategies, interest, motivation, self-efficacy beliefs and emotion; they differ also in socio-environmental terms such as linguistic, cultural and social backgrounds. The curriculum therefore is chunked into schemes of learning and rich authentic end point tasks.  Lessons are then planned based on fine diagnosis from the teacher.
  • Our curriculum aims to stretch all students – this demands hard work and challenge from all. It mean being sensitive to individual differences and needs whilst being challenging enough to ensure students reach above their existing level and capacity. Our curriculum demands rigour, high standards, coherence, and deep subject knowledge.  It will develop highly motivated subject specialists.
  • The curriculum is personalised through 3 tailored tiers at key stage 4; a) English Baccalaureate; b) Applied Baccalaureate; c) Technical Baccalaureate.  The Ebacc tier is aimed at those progressing to A’ levels and Higher Education and retains breadth and balance by including the humanities and arts subjects.  The other tiers enable some vocational courses to be chosen. KS4 will cover three years (9-11) with Year 9 seen as a foundation year.  A strong compulsory core comprising English Language/English Literature/Mathematics/a tailored programme of science based on aptitude: a) Triple; b) Dual Science.  In addition MFL remains compulsory for two pathways in Year 9.
  • The curriculum at key stage 5 offers students’ academic and equivalent qualifications at Level 3, as well as an extensive range of work-related learning provision at Levels 2 and 3, in conjunction with the Plymouth Learning Trust (PLT).  Students have the additional benefit of us working in collaboration with Sir John Hunt Sports Community College and Tor Bridge High, enabling us to offer over 50 subjects at Level 3.  Students follow a two year programme, with examinations taken in the Summer Term.  It is compulsory for students to continue to study English/Mathematics at GCSE, if they have not yet attained a grade C+ and two to three hours per week is devoted to each subject.  Students are given dedicated support time on their timetables, to ensure they are successful in the transition from KS4 to KS5, with a mentoring scheme embedded to support those most at risk.  This scheme is run in partnership with the University of St Mark and St John.
  • Assessment for learning – Our curriculum operates with clarity of expectations using assessment strategies consistent with these expectations; there is a strong emphasis on formative feedback to support learning.  Our Schemes of Learning and rich end point tasks need to be very clear about what is expected, what learners are doing, and why.  Formative assessment is substantial, regular and provides meaningful feedback; as well as feeding back to individual learners, this knowledge is used constantly to shape direction and practice.
  • Building connections – 21st century skills are promoted through the connections across areas of knowledge. For example digital literacy, numeracy, SMSC, PSHE, Citizenship, enterprise skills etc. are all mapped across different subjects.  The ability for learners to see connections is also important between the formal learning environment and the wider environment and society.  The “authentic learning” such as fieldwork and work based learning also fosters deeper understanding.  Lifelong learning 21st century skills are critical in a world that is constantly shifting.  The higher-order skills increasingly prioritised in workplaces and in society as a whole include the capacities to:

     - Generate, process, and sort complex information.
     - Think systematically and critically.
     - Make decisions weighing different forms of evidence.
     - Ask meaningful questions about different subjects.
     - Be adaptable and flexible to new information.
     - Be creative.
     - Be able to justify and solve real-world problems.
     - Acquire a deep understanding of complex concepts.
     - Media literacy.
     - Teamwork, social and communication skills.

  • We have pioneered an award winning digital curriculum.  Technologies have developed apace, with change quickening all the time.  This has far-reaching consequences.  The information revolution is transforming how we work, play, read and think; it is changing the nature of our economies and societies from the most personal level up to the global.  We are living in an era of incredible invention and growth in information and communication technologies and our curriculum must reflect and keep pace with this.


Current External Challenges:



GCSE Reform (future – first teaching 2015, first awarding 2017)

A delay has been announced to the GCSE reform programme.  Only GCSE in mathematics, English, English language and English literature will be reformed for first teaching in 2015, first awarding in 2017.  It is expected that specifications for these new GCSEs will be in schools in September 2014.  Other subjects would then be reformed from 2016 onwards.

There will therefore be a period in which students have both old and new GCSEs on their CV with different grading structures and potentially different standards. 

There will no longer be a single English GCSE.  Students will take both literature and language as separate GCSEs to meet national curriculum requirements.

There will no longer be a single science GCSE.  Students will take three separate sciences or combined (‘dual’) science (equal to 2 GCSEs).

During the autumn term 2013 there will be a further Ofqual consultation on how standards will be set for the new GCSEs.  Indications are that the grade C bar will be raised.


‘A’ Level Reform  

There will be no further January examination window so all modules in AS and A2 will be taken in the summer from now on.

A’ levels are to be reformed to become linear with more extended writing.  AS may be decoupled from A’ level and will be available as a separate qualification but specifications are expected to be written so that AS can be co-taught with the first year of the A’ level course.

A number of A’ levels have been reviewed and will be reformed for first teaching from September 2015, first awarding from 2017 (English language, literature, language and literature, physics, chemistry, biology, history, geography, psychology, art and design, sociology, business studies, economics, computing) as they have been found to need little or no change to subject content.  In these subjects, the new structure will apply from 2015 with the first new AS awarded in 2016 and the first new A’ levels awarded in 2017.

Mathematics and further mathematics have been found to need more substantial change to content and will be introduced later, along with modern languages and the remaining subjects.

KS5 Course Prospectus - Academic

KS5 Course Prospectus - Vocational


Vocational Qualifications (Key Stage 4)

Every November DfE publishes a list of qualifications which carry equivalence to one GCSE in KS4 performance tables.  These qualifications have to meet criteria (mostly around the nature of their assessment) in order to figure in the list.

There will be a written examination worth 20% to Btec courses. Science NQF Btec has this component already.


Floor Standards:

  • “The floor standard for a school is the minimum standard for pupil achievement and/or progress that the Government expects schools to meet. In 2016-17 a school will be below the floor standard if its Progress 8 score is below -0.50”.  (DfE October 2016)
  • In 2015-16 our Progress 8 score was +0.05, the fourth highest in the City of Plymouth and above the National Average of  -0.03 and -0.05 for schools  with a similar intake.


Raising Participation Age (RPA)

The statutory participation age is raised to 17 for the academic year 2013-14 and 18 for 2014-15.  From these dates all young people must be in full-time education, apprenticeships or employment with training and must be advised accordingly during Year 11.

All students from Year 8 to Year 13 have the right to receive independent, impartial information, advice and guidance (IAG) which should make clear to them (pre-16) the various routes available post-16.

All 16-19 year olds should study English/or mathematics until they have achieved a GCSE grade C, although they may take an alternative qualification if that is considered more appropriate.

To view the options booklet for students examined in 2017, please click here.

To view the options booklet for students examined in 2018, please click here

To view the options booklet for students examined in 2019, please click here