The curriculum is at the heart of a school’s purpose and our curriculum reflects our core values, Resilience, Faith, Inclusion, Aspiration and Respect. The curriculum at St Thomas More’s is designed to inspire students to develop enquiring minds and become lifelong learners. It supports our Catholic ethos, where every student, irrespective of their ability, is supported and challenged to achieve their full God given potential. We are very proud that we have a curriculum which allows all our students to flourish and learn a broad and balanced curriculum which gives them a brilliant foundation to move onto the next stage of education/employment. At the same time, we ensure that a student’s personal development is prioritised through an intensive PSHE/RSE curriculum to ensure students leave the school prepared for the demands of modern life
The curriculum actively supports learning beyond the classroom. All subjects have a minimum expectation to run 2 trips a year. This array of subject educational visits adds to the whole year trips, religious retreats, visiting speakers and conferences, which are designed to make the learning experience at St Thomas More even more enjoyable and memorable.
Introduction to the Curriculum
Our curriculum takes pupils from primary school to GCSE study in the arts, humanities, modern languages and the sciences. It prepares all pupils to take up an academic or vocational pathway with confidence. Our curriculum design is an important ingredient in our achieving the school aims of: ‘the all-inclusive development of each individual within a loving community which is welcoming, safe, forgiving, positive; challenging each to follow Christ in serving others.’
Years 7 and 8 Key Stage 3
In Years 7 and 8 our pupils benefit from a broad combination of traditional subjects. Pupils study English, Mathematics, Science, Religious Education, Art, Computer Science, Design Technology, Drama, Food and Nutrition, French, Geography, History, Music, PHSE/RSE, Physical Education and Spanish. Pupils can choose whether to study French, Spanish or both. Pupils are set by ability in English, Maths and Science. In their other subjects’ pupils are taught in mixed-ability classes. Students can opt at the start of year 7 to study French, Spanish or both subjects.
Due to good learning in lessons and high standards of homework the vast majority of the KS3 curriculum is completed by the end of year 8.
Year 9 Key stage 3 and 4
In Years 9 our pupils continue to enjoy a broad core curriculum. All pupils study English, English Literature, Mathematics, Science and Religious Studies to GCSE. Roughly half of the students will learn triple Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics separate GCSEs) while the other half will learn double Science GCSE (A double award GCSE which combines Biology, Chemistry and Physics to give a combined grade). Pupils are set by ability in each of these subjects. PHSE/RSE and Physical Education is also part of our core Curriculum with pupils enjoying a range of exciting opportunities including rock-climbing and mountain-biking.
In addition to the core, pupils have up to four option subject choices. From 2022, nearly all our students (roughly 95%) will use one of these options to continue studying one of the languages that they have been learning since year 7. The second option will be either Geography or History. The final two options will be picked from a broad selection of GCSE subjects including: Art, Computer Science, Design Technology, Drama, Food and Nutrition, French, Geography, History, Music, Physical Education and Spanish. Digital Information Technology (BTEC) is also offered. Option subjects are largely in mixed-ability classes.
GCSE courses begin in Year 9. The main rationale for this is to ensure that students have a wide choice of subjects to study at GCSE, with most of our students leaving with 10 or 11 GCSEs which is above the national average number. Full explanation of the rationale can be seen below.
Students continue to study the KS3 curriculum in year 9 by participating in days which focus on option subjects. These days allow all students to continue a broad curriculum, develop cultural capital and experience in depth some topics that allow students a deeper understanding.
In year 9 we devote curriculum time to develop many of the soft skills that are needed in the modern world. For example, all students work towards the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award, participate in global Catholic programmes, improving computing skills by completing an extra qualification and attending a religious retreat.
Year 10 and 11 Key Stage 4
Students continue to study the GCSE courses from year 9. We do not allow students to complete any of their option courses a year early as we believe that this would hinder them if they chose to undertake further learning in that subject post 16.
We aim to complete these courses by Easter of Year 11 allowing for a thorough recapitulation of key topics and examination techniques before the Summer exams begin.
We intend that every pupil grows in their Catholic faith, developing British Values and the five key attributes of leadership, communication, resilience, organisation and determination in order that they flourish in the remaining stages of their education and ultimately in their future vocations. To meet this aim, we offer a rich variety of educational trips and extra-curricular clubs. Several trips are specifically designed to deepen the Catholic faith of the pupils. Every pupil is encouraged to attend clubs, work towards a PiXL Edge accreditation as part of the PHSE/RSE curriculum and has the opportunity to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.
Our curriculum aims to: Provide a broad and balanced education for all pupils; Enable pupils to develop knowledge, understand concepts and acquire skills, and be able to choose and apply these in relevant situations; Support pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development; Support pupils’ physical development and responsibility for their own health, and enable them to be active; Promote a positive attitude towards learning; Ensure equal access to learning, with high expectations for every pupil and appropriate levels of challenge and support; Provide subject choices that support pupils’ learning and progression, and enable them to work towards achieving their goals; Develop pupils’ independent learning skills and resilience, to equip them for further/higher education and employment.
It is our intention that every pupil fulfils the aims of the National Curriculum when in Key Stage 3 (KS3) and of their GCSE or BTEC course when in Key Stage 4 (KS4). We want pupils to be clear what they need ‘to know and be able to do’ (Speilman, 2018).
We recognise that all students have individual learning capabilities and we use a range of teaching methods to meet these. We are committed to providing outstanding teaching and learning within the classroom. Effective teaching is the result of a clear established practice, which includes the most basic of principles, from classroom management to creating effective learners as well as using a range of assessment strategies. We do not prescribe any one teaching method and feel that teachers need to innovate and adapt teaching styles to suit the needs of the class. Whilst schemes of work provide guidelines for teachers to follow in delivering the curriculum, they need however, to be brought to life by the teacher, interpreted creatively to inspire and challenge students wherever possible. We believe that pupils can improve through engaging with feedback from their teacher.
As a school we are proud of the achievements of all our pupils. Wherever you look at St. Thomas More you will find pupils trying to ‘do their best’. This mindset has enabled pupils to: develop as individuals; make good progress in lessons; enjoy attending school clubs; participate in school trips; gain a PiXL Edge certificate; gain a Bronze or even Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award; achieve much better in their GCSEs than average; be prepared for the next stage in their education.
Our aim is to ensure that all students have the support that they need to do their very best, despite any differences. We are proud that we have been awarded the Inclusion Quality Mark (IQM) as we are committed to working with the whole school community to provide the best possible education for all students. There is a shared expectation that all, regardless of their specific needs, should be offered inclusive, quality teaching which will enable them to make the best possible progress and feel that they are a valued member of the wider school community.
We aim to ensure all students have the opportunity to develop their abilities and to fulfil their potential, both academically and socially, in order to live in the world as independent adults. To achieve this, we work with students, staff, parents and external agencies to better understand individual student needs and to tailor our provision to meet them.
The school offers a range of provision to support students with communication and interaction, cognition and learning difficulties, social, mental and health problems or sensory and physical needs.
For more information please see the SEN Information Report and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Policy. Click here to be redirected.
Rationale for a 2-Year KS3
- Highly ambitious curriculum for our students.
- Aim - to maximise life chances for all young people regardless of their background.
- Curriculum journey - 5 years (curriculum intent).
- Vision - "Do your best”.
- Curriculum is designed in the best interests of our students in our context
KS3 and Year 9 curriculum reviewed in 2017-18 (with the new 9-1 GCSEs rolling out to all subjects) to determine if 2-year KS3 was right for our students. Staff, students and parents were consulted. Decision confirmed to begin with 2-year KS3.
Sept 2021 - KS3 National Curriculum coverage reviewed - minor changes made to ensure full coverage in Years 7, 8 and 9 by use of Drop-down days to ensure deep coverage and include opportunities for Cultural capital. Amendments to MFL to strengthen EBacc at GCSE and to enable the EBacc to be at the heart of the KS4 Curriculum.
2-year KS3 curriculum
- National Curriculum covered in Years 7 and 8.
- Ambitious, comprehensive and broad curriculum - 15 subjects.
- Extensive extra-curricular/enrichment programme to enable broader, wider curriculum opportunities.
- Comprehensive options programme to support students with decision-making.
- Start of GCSEs.
- 16 Drop Down days to complete KS3 National Curriculum and to develop Cultural Capital.
- High levels of student motivation and focus (no Year 9 “dip").
- Extensive extra-curricular/enrichment programme to enable broader wider curriculum opportunities.
- With a 3-year KS4 more subjects can be studied at GCSE (4 options maintained). This would be very difficult in 2 years due to increased content in “new" GCSEs. With focus on EBacc, if only 3 options highly likely to have lower uptake of Arts subjects. Curriculum in KS4 would therefore be narrower.
- EBacc take-up from Sept 2022 will be 95%.
- Due to extensive programme of trips/visits (In non-Covid year) there 93 hours of curriculum time available in Y10 and 11. By beginning in Y9 we have 130-140 hours available if we finish teaching a few weeks before the GCSEs. This is in line with the 120-140 hours recommended for GCSEs.
- Broad choice of options subjects, including Art, Dance, DT, Food and Nutrition and Music,
- 3 years enables the curriculum to be extended and deepened to prepare students for post-16 study.
- Extensive extra-curricular/enrichment programme to enable broader wider curriculum opportunities.