Curriculum Overview KS3 and KS4

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 Aidans. 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

Our guiding statement of ‘Educating for Life’ best encompasses the mission of St John Fisher. 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 these are reflected in each curriculum area.

Religious Education and the Catholic Life of the school will always be at the heart of our school’s 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 was previously awarded the 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 their 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 him or her in regards 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, 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 challenge them respectfully. The lessons aim to instil in students 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 ensure that our curriculum is not simply limited to 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’ views are taken into account 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 includes 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 ey 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 are not 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). Students 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.

Curriculum Implementation

Key Stage Three

Students study fourteen subjects facilitating our commitment to a broad and balanced curriculum. The school timetable encompasses five sixty-minute lessons a day and we operate a two-week timetable. This allows for the necessary flexibility in delivering breadth to our curriculum.

In Year Seven across the two-week timetable students’ study –

Hours allocated Subjects
Six English, Maths, Science
Five Religious Education
Four History, Geography, French, Technology and PE
Two Music, Art
One Drama, IT/Computer Science, PSHCE

In Year Eight across the two-week timetable students’ study –

Hours allocated Subjects
Six English, Maths, Science
Five Religious Education
Four History, Geography, French, Technology and PE
Two IT, Art
One Drama, Music and PSHCE

As a Maintained School, each subject follows the curriculum guidelines of the National Curriculum. Specific focus is given to literacy within timetabled Library lessons as part of the English timetable and the Accelerated Reader programme is used to track progress. In the academic year 2019/2020, the students will be completing 20 minutes of private reading time, within form time. The Department has two teachers with responsibility for supporting and delivering literacy. In Maths, all Year 7 students take part in Numeracy Ninjas during their Maths lessons. This affords students a regular opportunity to practice their numeracy skills, which are essential in making progress. In addition, Year 7 students have access to Times Table “Rockstars” and are expected to complete a set number of games each week. This and the Accelerated Reader Programme are both run as competitions and students compete as part of their form to win points in the house system.

Catch up funding is used to ensure additional support for students in English and Maths in Year 7. In Maths students who score below 100 in their SATs are provided with catch-up intervention. These intervention sessions typically take place once a week over a fixed-period, throughout which students’ progress is monitored. Students work in small groups and build upon their understanding from Key Stage 2, with a focus on students’ numeracy skills. These sessions allow students to develop the confidence and competence to access the Year 7 curriculum in their lessons.  https://sjfchs.org.uk/information/catch-up-funding-statement/

Where appropriate and in consultation with students and parents, a limited number of students are withdrawn from French to receive additional support with literacy and numeracy from HLTA’s within the SEN Department.

There are, formal end of year assessments in all subject areas in the first week after May Half Term. The frequency of other assessments throughout the year varies depending on the allocation of curriculum time.

Nevertheless, each terms’ reporting and data collection point must be preceded by departmental assessments be they formative or summative.  Assessments while marked on a 9-1 scale are not based on GCSE mark schemes but age appropriate expectations determined by the Head of Department. Standardisation and moderation are undertaken to ensure the accuracy and validity of assessment data.

Homework is set weekly in Core subjects and fortnightly in all other subjects aside from PE and those with one lesson a fortnight.

Setting takes place at Key Stage Three in Mathematics after a month of Year 7. Initially, this is based on SAT scores and teacher observation of the quality of work and understanding shown during their first few Year 7 lessons. English is taught in mixed ability classes in Year 7 and in banded groups in Year 8. Setting also takes place in French in Year 8. All other subjects are taught within mixed ability form groupings.

Technology is taught on a rotation ensuring students have experience of studying Product Design, Electronics, Textiles, Food and Nutrition and Graphics.

With the necessity of Religious Education receiving 10% of curriculum time as laid out by the Leeds Diocese, we undertake a two-year Key Stage Three. This is to ensure students do not have to narrow their options at Key Stage Four as it allows us to offer an extra option block of free choices to students at Key Stage Four that we would not otherwise be able to do. This ensures around a third of students undertake Music, Drama or Dance which option pilots suggest would not be the case with a narrower set of choices. The Options process is supported by guidance from the Deputy Head responsible for Curriculum and Outcomes the Head of Year, Head of Departments, subject teachers and students in Key Stage Four. To support their decision-making process, students receive an extended assembly, an options booklet outlining the content and assessment of each subject, presentations from Heads of Departments of subjects they have not studied before and a pilot Options process. There is a parents and carers information evening to enable them to support their child’s curriculum choices at Key Stage Four. The Key Stage Four Curriculum is outlined later within this document.

Dedicated curriculum time is allocated to PSHCE to ensure the delivery of lessons which help our students develop the skills and knowledge needed to transition to secondary school with ease, as well as keep themselves safe off and online by making ‘smart choices’ especially now that they are becoming increasingly independent.

In Year Seven, students undertake a form retreat to focus on the CHRIST values of the school. Other day trips at key stage 3 include an RE trip to a Mosque to support understanding of the Islamic faith, a History trip to support the study of the industrial revolution and a Geography trip to Hull that supports understanding of eco systems and the impact of plastics on the oceans. Residential trips include a History trip to Normandy to support understanding of the Norman Conquest and the D Day landings and a trip to Ford Castle to support outdoor activities and team building.

High starters benefit from a strong focus on super-curricular work since deepening and enriching subject knowledge is a key issue in entry to competitive universities. Students are encouraged to engage in project work in Key Stage Three and a super curricular programme of activities have been developed which provide opportunities for students to develop their individual academic interests. In Year 8 students have the opportunity to work with Year 12 facilitators in an after school discussion group, enabling them to develop their critical thinking and debating skills. Relationships with local universities are strong and academics are invited into school to address pupils. Further work related opportunities are provided in Science, Medicine and Law.

Further curriculum opportunities are available via the Student Choir, Key stage Three performing arts club and production, sporting teams and internal and external competitions, spelling bee, involvement in the Student Council and departmental clubs. There is a dedicated sports programme in each term.

Key Stage Four

Students study either ten or eleven GCSEs. This depends on whether they have been entered for Combined Science or Biology, Chemistry and Physics. By studying GCSE subjects over a three-year period we are able to keep RE at the heart of our curriculum and deliver our commitment to a broad and balanced curriculum offer that does not force students to narrow their curriculum too early.

In Year Nine across the two-week timetable students’ study –

Hours allocated Subject(s)
Eight Sciences
Seven English Language and Literature, Maths
Five RE, four option subjects – including a Humanity, a language for 75% of students or Creative I Media, Engineering or Health and Social Care and two free choices
Two Core PE
One PSHCE

In Year Ten across the two-week timetable students’ study –

Hours allocated Subject(s)
Ten Science – Combined or Biology, Chemistry and Physics
Eight English Language and Literature
Seven Maths
Five RE, French or Spanish or for 25% Creative I Media, Engineering or Health and Social Care
Four Humanity option two other free option choices
Two Core PE
One PSHCE

In Year Eleven across a two-week timetable students’ study –

Hours allocated Subject(s)
Ten Combined Science or Biology, Chemistry and Physics
Nine English Language and Literature
Seven Maths
Five RE, French or Spanish or for 25% alternative choice
Four Humanity option and two free option choices
Two Core PE

In Year Nine there are formal end of Year Assessments at the start of June in all GCSE subjects in class. In Year Ten, there is a two-week Mock timetable in April and in Year Eleven a two-week mock timetable in October/November. These examinations will take place in the main hall. In addition, in Year Eleven there are further mock examinations in English, Maths, RE and Science in February. Other assessments are under the direction of the Head of Department and should be commensurate to the hours allocated to the subject. As with Key Stage Three, each terms’ reporting and data collection point are informed by formative and/or summative departmental assessments. Assessments in all years at Key Stage Four should be based on GCSE marking criteria.  Standardisation and moderation of all formal assessments are undertaken during allocated departmental time to ensure the accuracy and validity of assessment data.

Homework is set weekly in all GCSE subjects and should take a minimum of half an hour per subject, with more set by subjects with greater curriculum time.

Setting takes place in English, Maths, Science and Modern Foreign Languages. For Maths, Science and MFL this is largely due to the fact Foundation and Higher Papers are studied and to ensure students are prepared properly for the tier they will be entered for. For English, students are grouped into three bands to allow for the most appropriate text decisions. Setting decisions and decisions regarding tiers of entry are informed by progress as measured by assessments and via marking of work throughout the year. Set changes are at the discretion of the Head of Department under the criteria laid out in the intent section of the Curriculum outline. Decisions made relating to students studying Biology, Chemistry and Physics are made by the Head of Science based on performance in Year Nine and Ten across assessments, class work and homework.

PSHCE is taught as a discreet subject in Years Nine and Ten. This allows British values, Careers Education and Sex and Relationships Education to be covered in timetabled lessons. The curriculum outline for this subject is available elsewhere on the website. In Year Eleven, there are three drop down days where students focus on developing their transferable skills to improve their employability, as well as having the time to consider the range of options open to them post 16/18.  In addition, they continue to learn how to implement strategies that will keep them physically and emotionally healthy, as they navigate through 21st Century Britain.

Students receive additional careers support via individual appointments with careers advisers in Year 11 in addition to timetabled lessons in Year Nine and Ten. Students not intending to remain in our Associated Sixth Form receive additional support and guidance in their applications to alternative providers.

In Year Eleven, students struggling with Ten GCSE subjects have the opportunity to receive extra support in English and Maths and drop a GCSE option. This decision is based on outcomes in assessments, reporting data, consultation with parents and subject teachers and input from the Heads of English and Maths. Where a student’s health has affected their ability to cope with ten or eleven GCSEs, they may also take this route. This may also apply to students who joined the school after the start of Key Stage Four.

Residential trips linked to our Catholic Faith include the Lourdes Pilgrimage in Year Ten, the Camino in Year Eleven, RE visit to Rome in Year Nine. Further trips include a History trip to Germany for Year 9 and 10 students to support study of the Cold War and the Nazis, Geography trips to London and Sorrento and the Dance and Drama trip to London as well as a host of relevant day trips.

Further curriculum opportunities are available via sports teams, the School production in the autumn term, Musical groups, involvement in the School Council and in Year Eleven supporting the running of the school as a prefect or peer listener.

At Key Stage Four, departments provide appropriate interventions to enable High Starters to achieve Grades at 8/9. Students are given the opportunity to visit Oxford University in Year 9 and are taken on a residential visit to Cambridge University in Year 10. High Starters are provided with guidance on deepening their subject knowledge in order to enhance their applications to selective universities. Students are given the opportunity in Years 9 and 10 to pursue an Entry Level Certificate in Latin.

Support for disadvantaged students can be accessed on the school website via the following link https://sjfchs.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Pupil-Premium-Strategy-Statement-2019.pdf

Intervention includes lunchtime lessons in Year 11 in English and Maths in the autumn term, lunchtime sessions for all other subjects from January and Easter School over two days that focuses on English, Maths and Science. In some subjects such as Science, intervention also occurs after school and involves support from Sixth Form students.

The Impact of our Curriculum

Key Stage 3

  • Students receive a broad and balanced curriculum
  • Students receive 10% religious education curriculum time in line with the Leeds Diocese guidelines
  • Students receive SRE and an understanding of fundamental British Values via PSHCE lessons
  • Where appropriate students receive extra support in English and maths
  • Subjects follow the National Curriculum
  • Assessments are proportionate to curriculum time and inform reporting data
  • Students are engaged and enthused by the curriculum
  • There are a wide range of opportunities across the curriculum beyond the classroom
  • Students and parents are well informed prior to choosing their options and receive clear guidance to support their final decisions. We offer a wide range of subjects for students to choose from.
  • Pupil voice feeds into evaluation and adaptation of the curriculum both in terms of the whole school overview and individual departments’ schemes of work
  • Students are able to apply study skills in terms of independent learning, metacognitive strategies and preparation for assessment.

Key Stage 4

  • Students receive a broad and balanced curriculum. For example, at GCSE aside from Core subjects and those contributing to the EBacc, a third of students’ study Music, Dance or Drama, on average around 30% study Art, over 20% PE, over a third Business, IT or Computer Science and around 35%, a Technology based subject. In 2018, the average number of entries for students in Year 11 was 9.8 against a national average of 9, at GCSE this was 9.4 against a national average of 7.9.
  • Wherever possible and appropriate we meet or exceed the government target of 75% students studying the EBacc (79% 2018).
  • We maintain excellent outcomes at GCSE. P8 score of +0.58 in 2018, with 86% students achieve a standard pass in English and Maths and 63% received a strong pass (National average 43%). Our EBacc average points score was 5.38 (National average 4.03).
  • We ensure students achieve outcomes that continue to ensure all remain in education, employment or training post 16. For example, 100% of students were in education or training of those who finished their GCSE’s in 2018.
  • Students receive 10% religious education curriculum time in line with the Leeds Diocese guidelines
  • Students receive SRE and an understanding of fundamental British Values via PSHCE lessons and drop down days.
  • Where appropriate students receive extra support in English and maths
  • Assessments are proportionate to curriculum time and inform reporting data
  • Students are engaged and enthused by the curriculum
  • There are a wide range of opportunities across the curriculum beyond the classroom
  • Students and parents are well informed prior to choosing their post-16 options and receive clear guidance to support their final decisions. This includes careers appointments and education. We offer a wide range of subjects to choose from if students apply to the associated sixth form.
  • Additional support is given to those students who seek alternative pathways be they vocational, or another sixth form provider.
  • Pupil voice feeds into evaluation and adaptation of the curriculum in terms of the whole school overview and individual departments’ schemes of work. This particularly happens after Department Reviews.