The school ethos is that Every Child Achieves, Belongs, and Participates in learning, enrichment and the community. We feel education should empower young people, giving them the knowledge to make sense of the world and grow into citizens who make a difference. We deliver this through exceptional pastoral care and support, high expectations and standards, and an ambitious academic curriculum which is rich and has breadth. Giving children and their families choice, so that each child is able to be successful, enabling them to have the power to think for themselves, shaped by what they need to know, understand and fulfil, in order to have happy, successful and prosperous lives.
Intent of the curriculum
The curriculum is designed to be well-balanced and gives rich opportunities. It promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of our students and prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life. Our aim is to provide a curriculum that is highly effective in delivering outcomes that provide exceptionally well for all our students’ needs. Our students will be widely educated, with experiences that include consideration of the best that humanity has produced, words, art, ideas, science. We aim to ensure that students leave the schools within The Castle Partnership Trust very well equipped for the next stage of their education, training or employment, and educated so that they enjoy life and live well.
The taught curriculum is just one element in the education of each student and we consciously allow time and space in the school day and in each week, term and year to range beyond the programmes of study for each subject.
The curriculum will:
Develop students’ knowledge of themselves as learners in order to make them more effective learners.
Encourage independent learning and positive thinking amongst all students. Prepare them for life-long learning.
Be personalised in order to meet the needs of individual students.
Build on the primary opportunities.
Ensure students are literate and numerate.
Will ensure equity of access for all
Support kindness, empathy and celebrate equality and diversity.
The curriculum – organisation
Throughout the five years, all students are taught core subjects: English, mathematics, science, religious education, PSHE, careers and PE.
In Year 7, we build on the primary curriculum so that students acquire greater knowledge and language, developing skills and applying these to different situations. The choice and range of subjects, 20 subjects overall, with specialist teachers and facilities, so that children can explore practical subjects such as art, science, dance, drama, music, food, design, computing as well as access to a wide range of sports, will ignite a thirst to learn.
The opportunity to learn 4 languages, Mandarin, German, French and Spanish is part of the wider education beyond qualifications, as well as the full range of Arts subjects, dance, drama, music, fine art, photography in KS4, which allows every child to develop his or her creativity. This richness and element of choice are key feature of our curriculum through the five years. We are very proud of the Choice Curriculum we offer here at The Castle School.
The curriculum through Year 7, 8 and 9 has been mapped so it is in line with the KS3 national curriculum.
In Years 7 and 8, the students are divided into two equal ability populations for timetabling. These populations are mixed as students’ progress through the years so they are able to get to know a wider range of their peers. Setting is only in Maths in Year 7. In Year 8 English is also set. Setting in each subject is independent of that in other subjects. These sets are constantly reviewed and changes made whenever necessary. All other subjects are taught in mixed ability groups.
Subjects Year 7, 8 and 9: Foundation curriculum
In addition to the core subjects, students will also be taught the following:
Humanities subjects: History, Geography and RE.
Modern Foreign Languages: After a period of learning all four languages, students will choose one language from French, German, Mandarin and Spanish. Students in Year 9 have the opportunity of picking up a second language.
Arts: art, textiles, dance, drama and music.
Design Technology, computing and food.
Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE), which is taught via timetabled lessons, in enrichment days, form time, and across a range of curriculum subjects at various times throughout the year.
Students will also start their Short Course GCSE RE qualification in Year 9. This gives them an invaluable experience of what GCSE subjects and exams are like. They sit this in the summer of Year 10.
In January of Year 9, students will start the options process. Here, they select three subjects from the following list.
Food and Nutrition
Child Development (Cambridge Nationals)
Performing Arts (Dance) (BTEC)
Engineering (Cambridge Nationals)
IT (Cambridge Nationals)
The option process involves an Options Evening, GCSE taster lessons, explanatory videos and careers programme which support students with their choices.
Within the options, students will all continue to study at least one of either: history, geography, computing or a Modern Foreign Language. The options will vary from year to year, linked to the requests made by the cohort.
Leavers 2022 and 2023 studied the ‘Greater Depth’ curriculum when in Year 9. Part of this included picking up a first GCSE to be studied in Year 9 and Year 10. Responding to student and parent voice, we will also offer students in the Leavers 2024 cohort the opportunity to study a first GCSE in Year 9 and 10. This will be studied outside of school hours and the subjects on offer will be decided following requests made by the cohort. The impact of taking an early GCSE is multiple; it reduces pressure in the final year, allows students to experience GCSEs with lower stakes than the final year, teaches them resilience, and allows us to identify children who might need extra emotional support through Year 11. The experiences help students in developing resilience and perspective in terms of understanding exactly what is involved in studying and completing a GCSE course. Students will only take this first GCSE exam at the end of Year 10 if they feel ready to do so.
Subjects Year 10 and 11:
Students will start their GCSE courses (except those doing a first GCSE and short course RE) in September of Year 10. Students are set in English, maths and science. The two top sets in science have the opportunity to study triple science. Part of this course includes a commitment to attending a lesson after school once a week. All other subjects have mixed ability classes.
Depending on the context of the cohort, we may put on an early entry English language GCSE. This enables students to achieve a GCSE early, boosting confidence going into Year 11.
Option Process into Year 10
Students will select four option subjects (one of which is the early GCSE option at the end of Year 10) to study through to GCSE or equivalent in Years 10 and 11.
The options include:
Modern Foreign Languages: French, German, Spanish, Mandarin.
Would you like more information on the curriculum? If so, please contact Mr Jim Thomson on the main telephone number: (01823 274073).
We believe that homework makes an invaluable contribution to students' progress and so we support them to find good independent learning habits either at home or in the school library with its extensive IT facilities.
Microsoft Teams is our online homework provision. Students have told us that they prefer variety in the tasks set and to have choice. Therefore, tasks and projects range from interviews, experiments, research and essay writing. Every student has guidelines on the length of appropriate study.