Curriculum Overview

St John Fisher Curriculum Intent
Context of the School Relevant to the Curriculum

St John Fisher Catholic High School places gospel values central to all aspects of school life. It comprises of 1475 students across from ages 11-18 and forms part of an Associated Sixth Form with our local Anglican School St Aidan’s. It has a below average percentage of disadvantaged students, an above average percentage of students with high prior attainment and is 83% white British. It is part of the Leeds Diocese and follows their guidance regarding curriculum time (10%) and content in relation to Religious Education.

Guiding Principles Behind Curriculum Intent

The mission of St John Fisher is best encompassed by our guiding statement of ‘Educating for Life’, While academic success will always be a clear measure of our success we aim to educate the whole child in order to fully prepare them for the next stage of their education, working life and to ensure they are responsible and reflective members of society. Our core values of Compassion, Humility, Respect, Integrity, Service and Tolerance underpin our curriculum design and are reflected in each curriculum area.

Religious Education and the Catholic Life of the school will always be at the heart of our curriculum. We are further committed to ensure our guiding intent in relation to our curriculum remains that it is broad, balanced, relevant and where necessary personalised. As a school that previously had Arts and Humanities status we are proud of the breadth of our curriculum offer at all key stages and are committed to retaining this key principle. Each child is an individual and where possible should have the opportunity to study subjects that enthuse and engage them. We fully intend to ensure our students are responsible citizens with an appreciation of fundamental British values that give them a respect for the rule of law, democracy and a tolerance and compassion towards fellow citizens. Our CHRIST values help underpin this intent.

We offer a flexible curriculum where appropriate to meet individual needs that may relate to academic, emotional, physical or health related barriers. This is balanced against ensuring students retain a range of subjects that ensure they can progress to the next stage of their education journey or work.

We are committed to ensuring our curriculum ensures that students are not only able to study a broad and balanced curriculum but that the depth of their knowledge, understanding and skills are developed in order that as a school we maintain our proud academic record in public examinations for both progress and absolute outcomes. Students will be prepared in such a way that they have the greatest chance of successful progression to Further or Higher education, apprenticeships and/or employment on leaving St John Fisher Catholic High School. We intend that the curriculum in each subject should be engaging and develop a love of learning beyond the classroom.

Students will develop successful study habits and skills via homework, independent learning, support with preparation for assessments and metacognitive strategies.

We ensure that no student has a barrier placed in front of them in regard to access of the curriculum based on their background. Our pupil premium strategy statement outlines how we intend to ensure that financial circumstances are not a barrier to cultural experiences or curriculum choices. All decisions relating to alternative curriculum pathways are made in conjunction with students and their parents. The rationale for any such decision will always be clear and communicated to all stakeholders and made in the best interests of the student and not based on school outcomes.

Through our timetabled PSHCE programme from Years 7-10, our three drop down PSHCE study days in Year 11, subject lessons and Collective Worship we ensure fundamental British values are at the heart of school life. Our CHRIST values are central to this. Our PSHCE lessons further intend to develop well rounded young people who are able to listen to the views of others displaying tolerance towards those whose opinions are different from their own, as well as being able to respectfully challenge them. The lessons aim to instil in students a compassion which comes from a deeper understanding of others and a sense of humility which comes from putting others before ourselves.

Our firm intent is to offer a curriculum that stretches beyond five sixty minute lessons a day. Through collective worship, regular charity events, drama productions, musical and dance performances, sporting events both internal and external, regular academic competitions within and between schools as we all a range of day and residential trips, we intend to offer students a wide experience of life beyond the classroom.

Our intent is that students’ voices are heard when designing and implementing our curriculum. We ensure this via Department Reviews, the quality assurance cycle, the School Council and Kirkland Rowell surveys. For GCSE options our starting principle is to ensure the greatest number of students possible receive their first preferences and we retain the widest range of choice and breadth of subjects possible.

As a Catholic School we ensure students have a deep understanding of their faith via RE lessons, Collective Worship and our CHRIST values. In addition, the RE curriculum studies other faiths at both Key Stages Three and Four. It intends to offer Catholic retreats and pilgrimages and also visits to and from other faiths. We are compliant with the expectations of the Leeds Diocese in terms both of RE Curriculum time and by following the Bishops’ preferred GCSE syllabus.

Wherever possible and appropriate we intend to meet or exceed the Government expectation of 75% of students studying the EBacc. This must be placed alongside our commitment of placing the needs of students at the heart of all curriculum decisions. All students at key Stage Four will study English Language and Literature, Mathematics, Combined science or Biology, Chemistry and Physics, either History or Geography and we aim for 75% of students to study French or where appropriate Spanish. Computer Science will be an option subject.

Decisions relating to whether a department sets or teaches in mixed ability classes are at the discretion of the Head of Department. There must be a clear explanation as to why a subject chooses to set, if they do so and the guiding intent must always be the best interests of the students. Sets must not be fixed, setting decisions should take account of performance in assessments, progress in class as evidenced by marking and feedback and target grades based on the school using FFT20 as a benchmark. Set changes should use the same rationale.

We are committed to stretching students who we define as High starters (those who have achieved significantly above average outcomes in Key Stage Two SATs). They are identified early in Year 7 to ensure they are appropriately stretched and challenged from the offset. The school provides both within the curriculum as well as through an extra-curricular programme appropriate challenge to ensure these students reach their potential at Key Stage Four and beyond.

It is our intent that wherever possible subject specialists are allocated to key stage 3 classes. Where this is not the case staff receive support from their Head of Department and where appropriate training. All staff will have access to a comprehensive CPD programme both bespoke to St John Fisher and as part of the Yorkshire Teaching Schools Alliance. Staff also have external training opportunities where appropriate.