Curriculum - An Overview

Our curriculum vision – our intent

Our curriculum reflects our ambition for all our students. Our aim is that they should leave school as responsible, respectful and active citizens, actively involved in public life and ready for the next stage of their education, training or employment. This is one manifestation of our vision: "To pursue excellence academically and in all other spheres of school life.

Our curriculum has a strong academic core. We continue to offer courses that have progression to the next stage; all students are expected to study towards high-status qualifications that have currency in the world of work, and are recognised by the DfE within the performance tables.

We offer a range of GCSEs and A levels, and a small number of vocational courses that are best suited to several of our subjects that have a significant practical element: therefore we offer PE GCSE alongside a BTEC in sport to suit students with a different balance of practical and academic ability. We do the same with Business GCSE and BTEC. At GCSE we offer Health and Social Care as a Cambridge National and Technical Certificate.

In a few cases each year, typically, we offer the Vocational Certificate in Business and Enterprise, for students who benefit from a very structured programme with a practical focus. This qualification is recognised in the performance tables. In order to offer students the maximum opportunity for success we have chosen to run a two-year key stage 3 and three-year key stage 4. This allows time for greater depth of study, regular recall and opportunities to use and apply knowledge. As a consequence students in year 9 study four hours of English, maths and science (and those doing triple science an extra 2.5 hours). They have 2.5 hours in year 9 of their optional subjects, rather than 2 hours per week for French or German, History or Geography. Given the shortening of year 11 (because the exam season starts earlier, with practical exams before Easter), this represents a significant increase in learning time.

We value social, moral and spiritual education and devote one hour per week to both religious studies and personal, social, health and economic education in years 7 to 11.

We have high expectations of all students: we do not have an academic and less academic pathway, excluding some students from high-status qualifications. We do believe that skill in reading is crucial to academic success and being an active member of society: therefore we invest in an intensive reading programme (Read Write Inc) in years 7 and 8, in order to prepare students for work and study.

Our curriculum - implementation

Chenderit Chenderit School provides a broad and balanced curriculum for all its students through Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4. Our curriculum has a traditional blend of subjects and activities, supplemented by four Extended Project Days during which the timetable is "collapsed” and broad, integrated, often cross-curricular activities are undertaken, or opportunities are taken to learn outside the classroom.

Key Stage 3:

As an academy, we have freedom to choose how to structure our curriculum. We provide programmes of study that match the national curriculum in terms of ambition, rigour and breadth.

Our working week is organised into twenty-five one hour lessons. Each year we consider the range of ability of the students we teach, and organise our teaching groups in the way we believe is most effective. We have sets in maths, broadly on the basis of ability, informed by KS2 SATs and what we have learned from our primary schools during the transfer process. English use a similar grouping, or sometimes will have two broadly parallel groups, and a third group of students who are either more able, or require greater reinforcement of key skills. In French, students are initially taught in mixed groups, and then regrouped by ability after Christmas. In science and humanities we use a combination of mixed ability tutor groups in year 7, reorganising them in year 8 to have two mixed groups, and a third of either higher or lower ability. We make a decision each year on the basis of evidence. Currently science and all other subjects are taught in mixed ability groups.

In year 7 we screen all students to identify students who would benefit from extra support with reading. We deliver an intensive programme to support reading – Read Write Inc – and extra literacy during English time.

In years 7 and 8 students currently study art, information technology, music, personal, social and health education (PSHE), physical education, and technology. All students study a modern foreign language; they take French in year 7, apart from a small number who would benefit from extra literacy and numeracy having small group sessions during this time. In year 8 all students start German, including those who have not done French where we believe it will be of benefit for them to do so.

Key Stage 4:

A three-year broad, balanced and flexible Key Stage 4 curriculum enables students to spend longer preparing for GCSEs and the rigorous requirements of the reformed linear GCSE courses and terminal examinations. It also enables teachers to deliver broader and more detailed schemes of work in preparation for these exams and possible routes beyond. Students complete the options process in Year 8 and receive our guidance with parents’ support, to make appropriate decisions.

No student is allowed to make narrow decisions which may limit their life chances. Most choose to study history or geography, most choose a subject with a substantial creative or practical element and a large number choose a language. Students are encouraged to take the combination of subjects that make up the EBacc: the core of English, maths, science, and history or geography and French or German.

The Core Curriculum

All students will follow the core curriculum, which includes:

  • English Language
  • English Literature
  • Maths
  • Science (Combined Science or Biology, Chemistry and Physics)
  • PE
  • RS and PSHE
  • The tutorial programme

Religious Studies

Religious Studies at Chenderit, including at KS3, follows the requirement laid down in the Northamptonshire Agreed Syllabus that Religious Studies examines the beliefs of the major world religions and their views on a variety of issues. We feel it is important that, in a multi-cultural and multi-faith society, our programmes of Religious Education support the notion of tolerance and understanding.

Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE)

PSHE lessons in both KS3 and KS4 are led by a team of specialist teachers. Courses cover topics that include Relationships and Sex Education (RSE), Drugs Education, Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Education, active elements of Citizenship, Life in Modern Britain, Careers Education and related topics. Parents/carers who have any concerns about their child or children being involved in such discussions should read Understanding Relationships, Sex and Health Education at your child’s secondary school: and contact the school.

The core curriculum

The core curriculum will provide the majority of students with an opportunity to gain nine or ten at least five GCSEs grades including English and Maths which are essential requirements for most post 16 courses and apprenticeships.

The Options

Thinking about the range of subjects that students can study at Key Stage 4 is an exciting process. For many students this is the first time that there has been some element of choice. In 2019 students were able to opt for the following subjects:

  • Art: Painting and Drawing
  • Business Studies
  • Design Technology
  • Drama
  • Food Preparation and nutrition
  • Geography
  • Health & Social Care
  • History
  • Media Studies
  • Modern Foreign Languages (French and German)
  • Music
  • Physical Education
All students are now required to study or train at least until the age the age of 18 and so we offer plentiful advice and guidance to students and parents when planning Key Stage 4 choices. This includes:

  • A series of options assemblies for students;
  • Tutorial sessions;
  • Access to and training in web based careers programmes;
  • A ‘Subject Fair’ for students and their parents where our options system is clearly explained and where subject teachers are available for discussion and
  • An interview for all students and their parents with a senior colleague to discuss and select subjects.

Post 16:

The majority of Chenderit students continue their Post 16 education at Chenderit School, with other students joining the school to take advantage of our high standard of education and our specialised facilities. Some students study one year courses in Year 12 before moving on to A levels, further education or apprenticeships, whilst most follow traditional two-year A level courses.

As with KS4 options, students have a chance to tailor their curriculum to suit their interests and ambitions for further study or training. We currently offer 23 different courses at Post-16 including subjects students will not yet have studied, such as Photography, Psychology and Sociology. In the process of preparing for Post -16 study, all students who apply for a place at Chenderit Sixth Form are offered an interview to discuss options and aspirations.

Throughout the Post -16 tutorial programme students are encouraged to develop skills to support further study (such as preparing UCAS personal statements) and life skills. In addition, the Study Centre for sixth form is staffed to encourage and support the students when completing independent study for their Post-16 courses. Guest speakers regularly attend assemblies to present a range of options for Post 18 such as apprenticeships, employment, UCAS, gap years, studying abroad and charity work. Students are supported to make informed choices for their future. The school provides a foundation course for those students who have not met the minimum requirements for A Level study, which includes retakes of GCSE English and Maths. Students may also choose to study a topic of their own choice in depth and complete an Extended Project, an additional qualification.

In order to make Chenderit students competitive candidates for any university course, further study or employment, we also offer opportunities to gain work experience. For one week at the end of the school year, Year 12 students organise their own work experience with the support of the school, with the aim of supporting applications for either Post 18 study or employment.

Assessment

Assessment is key to effective approaches in teaching and learning; it takes a number of different forms and serves a number of distinct purposes. For example, teachers use assessment to identify how much progress students have made and what further teaching should be planned to improve learning. Parents are keen to know how their children are performing and whether they are on track in their learning for success in their end of year exams. Students are also keen to see how they are progressing and to identify what they may need to work harder at, in order to achieve their target grades.

In Key Stage 3 students are assessed against age related expectations: when longer pieces of work are marked, teachers assess against criteria for that activity. These criteria are shared with the students in advance, and the following words allow students and parents to see how their work compares to our expectations of a student at any particular point in their course:

How we report progress

Words we use on students’ work

Significantly above age-related expectations        

Exceeding

Above age-related expectations

Extending

At age-related expectations

Secure

Below age-related expectations

Developing

Significantly below age-related expectations

Emerging

 

At GCSE and at A Level most courses are assessed by terminal, or end-of-course exams. Some subjects have a small element of coursework. In order to best prepare our students for this eventuality we have introduced end-of-year exams for each year group. Students are further supported with formalised holiday homework packs wherever extra support is needed to help them attain their expected grades. In later years (during KS4 and Post 16 learning), students will have numerous exam points or "pre-public exams”. This preparation will enable our students to understand fully the demands of the new and more challenging exam system.

Reporting to Parents/Carers

Parents of students in all year groups will receive two or three reports during the school academic year.

In Key Stage 3 reports show the student’s current level of attainment compared to what might be expected of them – in relation to "age related expectations” – in each academic subject. In Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 reports show a student’s current attainment in terms of an examination grade. The reports include a judgement of the level of progress a student is demonstrating, and their commitment to work in class and at home, and their behaviour. Once per year the form tutor writes a summary comment.

All year groups have a parents’ evening calendared during the year and parents/carers and students are invited to attend this evening to meet with subject staff in order to discuss individual student progress and target improvements.

Student are often asked to complete questionnaires or discuss with staff in small groups, allowing us to collect feedback about their experience of school. Parents and carers are also invited to contribute to this process annually by completing a survey based on the Ofsted model. These results directly inform subject, year team or whole-school planning.

Homework

At Chenderit, we are committed to supporting our students to become increasingly independent learners, ready for the challenges of KS3, KS4 and Post-6 learning and life beyond school. We aim to challenge all our learners intellectually, whatever their level of ability and we want the learning experience to be an enjoyable one. We hope that students will see all work set either at school or at home as integral to their learning. Assimilating, consolidating, preparing and learning material as a course progresses is immensely helpful when it comes to revision for end of year or external exams. Homework also helps young people to develop skills of personal organisation, a sense of responsibility and self-motivation, skills which will underpin students’ successes throughout their lives.

Students, and parents, can find and track all homework that has been set on Show My Homework: a link to this is available on the school website.

Should you have any queries about our curriculum please contact Mr P Taylor, Deputy Headteacher in charge of curriculum (ptaylor@chenderit.net).