Bishop Challoner

Catholic Secondary School

Academic

Curriculum Overview 

Our curriculum is a broad, balanced and creative blend of core and foundation subjects which we believe enables each individual to develop a range of skills that will equip them for the challenges of the modern world. It is our intention that every learner fulfils their potential and to this end tailored learning programmes, intervention strategies, appropriate stretch and challenge and a range of extra-curricular learning opportunities are on offer to facilitate the growth of existing skills and the nurturing of new ones.

Learning at its best happens when the individual talents, strengths and areas for improvement are recognised by everyone and when there are clear steps to secure further development. Of course, it does not always take place in the classroom environment and we are proud of our wider learning opportunities, including the support offered by our dedicated SEN team and the extensive activities that occur during and outside the school day.

Central to the development of every learner’s needs are the core subjects and at our Catholic school we offer to all students the opportunity to follow exciting programmes of study in RE, English, Maths, Science, Modern Foreign Languages (Currently French and Spanish), Humanities (currently Geography and History) and the study of emerging technologies (currently Information Communication Technology and Computing).

In addition to this breadth, we pursue a range of vitally important subjects that nurture the development of students’ gifts, talents and interests in performance based learning, arts and technologically based subjects. These subjects include: Music, Drama, Art, Textile Design, Catering, Physical Education, Resistant Materials and Graphic Products.

We believe that this rich curriculum base enables our learners to be successful in a number of areas and to enjoy, achieve and to challenge themselves to learn new disciplines since it is through the development of new skills that we believe they will develop the resourcefulness and resilience to acquire important communication, planning and problem-solving skills needed beyond school.

Our extra-curricular programme of activities is extensive and a flavour is provided here, ranging from musical tuition or membership of one of the choirs or orchestras, with students participating in local and regional performances; those with a dramatic flair are able to participate in shows, whole school productions or the ‘Rock Challenge’; our sportsmen and women can choose from the conventional field and gym sports to emerging sports at Bishop Challoner such as dance, cheerleading, trampolining or table tennis to name but a few; STEM based activities undertaken in partnership with local businesses and educational providers, including AWE, INTECH, GO4SET and Warings engages those with an interest in engineering, design or mathematical aptitude to; and, importantly, as a catholic school committed to developing our students’ appreciation of their stewardship of the world in which they live and their responsibility to and for others, there are many chances to be involved in community outreach activities such as supporting Saxon Wood School, John Eddy Court, a residential home for the elderly or working on art projects at St Michael’s Hospice. There are many, many more learning opportunities which can be read about under each subject’s link.

KS3 Subject Overview:

RE, English, Maths, Science, Modern Foreign Languages (Currently French and Spanish), Humanities (currently Geography and History) and the study of emerging technologies (currently Information Communication Technology and Computing), Music, Drama, Art, Textile Design, Catering, Physical Education, Resistant Materials and Graphic Products.

KS4 Subject Overview:

All students follow GCSEs in RE, English Language, English Literature, Maths and Science (currently all students follow Core Science before specialising in one of three pathways: Triple Science pathway – Biology, Chemistry and Physics; Additional Science pathway or BTEC Science pathway).

All students also follow one Modern Foreign Language (either Spanish or French) and a humanity based subject (either Geography or History).

All students can then choose ONE other subject at GCSE from: Art, Catering, Computing, Drama, ICT, Music, PE or Resistant Materials.

There is the opportunity for some students to follow an ASDAN accredited award called the Certificate of Personal Effectiveness, a portfolio based course which allows students to ‘plan, do and review’ as part of their assessment academic, vocational and/or practically based credits themed around topics that are deemed to be skill sets needed in the workplace.

For both KS3 and KS4 careers information advice and guidance and PSHE are delivered via our extended tutor time allowing our learners to make informed choices about their futures.

We believe that it is this blend of enriched experiences that enables our learners to ‘aspire to be more, not to have more’ and to be able to develop their spiritual, moral, social and academic self.

Assessment is integral to the success of our students’ learning process and therefore assessing their work is fully integrated within each subject’s schemes of work and teachers’ routine lesson planning.

It should have a positive impact, both on students’ attitudes and motivation and also upon teachers’ future planning and to this end the monitoring, marking and recording of student progress is the key to successful outcomes.

Our assessment practice meets the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum and exam board specifications for Key Stage 4 qualifications.

Our parents and carers receive updates on student progression, the data provided indicates for the student, parent and staff clear information in relation to current levels/grades and end of key stage targets based upon FFT ‘D’ measures which are published and refined each year. These measures are based upon students’ prior attainment and give an indication of the likely progress that can be expected

Naturally, assessment data must provide students with feedback on what they need to do to improve their work and their KS3/GCSE grades.

Our practice incorporates a number of strategies which can be summarised in the following way:

Teaching should be planned to incorporate varied and differentiated assessment tasks when and where appropriate. In some subjects such as Maths, Science and English where students are set, the work set will be matched to ability with adjustments to groupings occurring at strategic points as determined by the Curriculum Leader.

In our day to day assessments of students’ work, ’assessment for learning’ strategies are incorporated whenever possible – these will include: extended questioning techniques, paired-talk, hands-up and hands-down activities, mini-plenary, student-led plenary, peer and self-assessment activities. These strategies allow teachers to gauge progress in a formative rather than summative manner and to plan accordingly for the ‘next steps in the learning’ sequence for individuals, groups and/or classes.

Students are central to the process of assessment and so the criterion on which they are assessed is shared with them, understood by them and forms the basis of future target setting for pieces of work.

Assessments are scheduled to support accurate, termly progress checks/reviews that reflect the overall performance of a student in each subject area and which in turn informs data captures, except in the case of data entry 1.

These data captures typically occur 4 times a year and follow this pattern of monitoring and timescale:

Data 1: Oct = ‘impressionistic’ view of student performance based on ½ term’s work in books and, if relevant, any tests undertaken

Data 2: Jan = Y9 and Y11 ‘internal exam grades’ with Y7, 8 and 10 grades based upon completion of 2 assessments

Data 3: March = Y7-11 Current working National Curriculum or GCSE level taking into account Controlled Assessment averages and other quantifiable data from tests

Data 4: May = Y7-11 Current working  National Curriculum or GCSE level and in the case of GCSE students ‘likely result’ as this data will be used for ‘estimated grades’

With the advent of Linear GCSEs, the former pattern of modular assessment is now obsolete and therefore students and parents can expect there to be increasingly more ‘subject and keyword or key concept tests’ so that students are preparing for a pattern of assessment that will require them to retain much more knowledge and information for their final examinations in the summer of year 11.

A programme of formal tests and assessments is published in the school calendar detailing when each year group has end of term or year exams.