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Curriculum Policy

Sacred Heart Catholic School Curriculum Policy 2022

Curriculum intent

The overriding ambition of our curriculum is to cater for the needs of all our pupils and enhance social mobility.

This ambition links to our core vision of enabling every child to achieve more than they think they are capable of achieving – a vision which is at the heart of everything we do as a school.

Our vision is a reflection of our belief in Jesus’ call to fullness of life. Therefore, the overriding ambition of our curriculum is to give our pupils every opportunity to flourish, to develop their talents to the full and enhance social mobility.

Our belief that humans are created in the image and likeness of God means that all people have an inherent and immeasurable worth and dignity.  This gives us a radical equality before God which is the basis of our commitment to the principle that every member of the school community is entitled to equal opportunities and treatment irrespective of ethnic or national origin, race, gender, physical disability, sexual orientation, marital status, social background or religion.

Everything we do is underpinned by our Christian faith and our belief in equality of opportunity for all and our conviction that pupils’ starting points in life and their social and economic status should not define their end-points.

By the end of each student’s time at Sacred Heart school we aim to have transformed their lives and educational prospects through a wide-ranging and ambitious curriculum that does not cease at the boundaries of the classroom or the school. We teach knowledge rigorously but also place an emphasis on skills and preparing pupils for the world of higher education and work. 

As such:

  • Our curriculum aims to meet the needs of all pupils, providing each individual pupil with a range of opportunities to learn and achieve. Pupils should build on their strengths and develop their enjoyment of and commitment to learning. In doing so, pupils develop their knowledge, skills and abilities to the full and are able to maximise their true potential.
  • The Catholic ethos of our school forms the basis of the curriculum as a whole. The curriculum promotes pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. In particular, the curriculum enables pupils to grow in their Christian Catholic faith and to function as active, responsible Christians in an ever-changing world. 

At Sacred Heart Catholic school our curriculum seeks …

  • To ensure that all pupils receive a broad, deep and knowledge rich curriculum
  • To ensure that all pupils build their character and develop socially, morally and mentally as Catholics while also understanding fundamental British values and appreciating the breadth of cultural diversity and values within Britain
  • To ensure that all pupils are prepared for higher education and the world of work, so that every pupil leaves Sacred Heart school with a clear plan and strategy for their progression
  • To ensure that all pupils have high expectations for their own behaviour and achievement
  • To ensure that all pupils are literate and numerate
  • To ensure that all pupils experience a wide variety of learning opportunities outside of the classroom through an extensive programme of curriculum enhancement
  • To ensure pupils can access the curriculum from home through a broad remote learning offer

All pupils receive a broad, deep and knowledge-rich curriculum

We offer a wide range of subjects at Key Stage 3 and 4 to all pupils, including Music, Drama, Art and Modern Foreign Languages, as we do not wish to restrict our pupils in any way or inhibit their creativity. Furthermore, to ensure they are not disadvantaged we offer as many pupils as possible the opportunity to qualify for the English Baccalaureate. The number of pupils at Sacred Heart who study the Ebacc is well in excess of the national average, as is the percentage of our students who study a Modern Foreign Language at GCSE level.

Our 6th form offers a wide range of academic A Level qualifications, as well as BTECs in popular disciplines such as Health and Social Care for those students seeking alternative pathways to A levels.

We develop our teaching practice through collaborative work and value whole school staff training and INSET highly. For example, all departments have redesigned their curricula in the last two years to place a greater emphasis on consolidation of key skills and knowledge through quizzing, online learning and other appropriate pedagogical innovations rooted in educational theory. 

All pupils build their character and develop socially, morally and mentally while also understanding fundamental British values and appreciating the breadth of cultural diversity and values within Britain

Our Catholic ethos and focus on Gospel values underlines everything that we do in and out of school. Our pupils attend Mass at least once per month, and regularly pray and reflect during morning and afternoon registration. Our assembly and citizenship / PSHE programmes help our students to navigate the challenges of the modern world such as materialism, consumerism and radical individualism and serves to deepen their faith. We aim to nurture pupils spiritually as well as academically, with their journey towards the world of higher education and work moving hand in hand with their development as positive role models and good Christians.  We take seriously the teaching of other faiths to prepare the pupils in our school for life in modern Britain. This in turn will improve social cohesion and contribute to the common good by increasing mutual respect between those of different religions and those of no faith.

The local community is important to us and our connections within the local area – including with our local church and Priest - further demonstrate the extent to which Sacred Heart is a Christian community. We annually deliver in excess of 100 hampers prepared by our pupils to the elderly as well as giving a tea dance for local residents and visiting a veteran’s home. Further from home the school raises money to support a Thai orphanage which it visits as part of a mission every two years. Our community work is testament to the fact that we not only want to prepare our students for the highest standards of further education they can possibly access, but that our students also leave Sacred Heart school as responsible and caring citizens who embody both British values and the Gospel values. 

All pupils are prepared for higher education and the world of work, so that every pupil leaves Sacred Heart school with a clear plan and strategy for their progression

Our aim is for all our students to move on to work, higher-level apprenticeships or university. Many of our students access Russell Group universities.

We have developed partnerships with organisations to raise pupils’ aspirations and develop social skills. These include events in school, as well as work experience, mentoring and Internships that not only give our pupils an insight into the professional work place but also provide them with the skills required to thrive in the future.

Our curriculum ensures we are able to consider every child’s needs and give an insight in to most industries, ranging from medicine to stage management. All of our Year 12 pupils attend either Summer schools or Internships and all of our Year 10s undergo a week of work experience.

The fact that around 97% of our pupils go on to higher education or higher apprenticeships is testament to the success of our curriculum.

We ensure that our careers guidance matches and relates to the eight Gatsby benchmarks to ensure maximum effectiveness. 

To ensure that all pupils have high expectations for their own behaviour and achievement

Our robust pastoral system is simultaneously a reflection of our Catholic ethos and also a structure that supports our pupils to achieve and progress through the curriculum. We focus on our pupils as individuals as well as whole year group cohorts. Strategically planned assemblies, registration periods and workshops ensure that we teach pupils how to keep themselves safe in an ever changing digital world, as well as the challenging urban environment in which our students live and our school is situated. We teach pupils the Gospel values of compassion, justice and mercy. We are inclusive and ambitious for all. We have high expectations of all pupils and provide opportunity for pupils to learn what is expected of them morally. Our rigorous and systematic behaviour policy ensures that pupils learn that actions have consequences and they can accept and appreciate differences between people. We have a focus on good manners at all times and encourage pupils to act as ambassadors for the school.

All pupils are literate and numerate

The development of literacy and oracy is at the forefront of our curriculum as we understand how vital it is for our pupils to build confidence in communication skills not only for their time in school but also to prepare them for working life. We ensure pupils have opportunities in all subjects to discuss, challenge and build on other points of view and to develop their formality of language to ensure they can have the confidence to speak to different audiences. Extended writing is considered a crucial skill within all subject areas and has a key role within our subject curricula. Pupils who arrive from primary school with below expected literacy and numeracy skills are quickly caught up through expert teaching and incisive intervention. Whole school reading and use of our extensive library is encouraged as much as possible.

All pupils experience a wide variety of learning opportunities outside of the classroom through an extensive programme of curriculum enhancement

Our curriculum also ensures that our students are able to experience environments they have never experienced before, either in the UK or abroad, where we offer opportunities to visit France, Belgium, Spain, the United States, Jerusalem and Thailand. Furthermore, our curriculum ensures that pupils have the opportunity to visit many of the sites of great cultural and historical significance across London, as well as further afield.

Our curriculum ensures that pupils participate in debating and learn to speak confidently in formal, public situations, as well as participate in the democratic process through our burgeoning school council.

Our wide range of clubs and societies enhances our curriculum, allowing our pupils to flourish. We have the highest attended Debate Mate club in the country. We employ professional sports coaches in a range of sports and our pupils often compete at a London-wide or national level. For the past 12 years we have offered pupils from Year 9 upwards the opportunity to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme – by the time pupils reach the 6th form they are able to complete the award to Gold standard. 

Curriculum implementation

Sacred Heart believes that a meticulously planned and structured curriculum is the solid foundation required for effective learning. Our curriculum is designed and implemented in such a way that it ensures pupils are able to build on their prior knowledge and are always prepared for the next stage in their education. This approach is complemented by the school’s rigorous and developmental teaching and learning programme and our commitment to meaningful whole school training and INSET.

As far as possible pupils are taught in ability groups in order to aid teachers with differentiation. We seek to ensure that lessons are engaging and suitably differentiated, but also that all pupils are challenged and stretched and receive access to the same curriculum.

Subject Leaders, who are experts in their respective fields, are given the confidence and tools required to carefully construct a curriculum that promotes a deep understanding of a wide range of topics. Teachers plan learning that allows pupils to embed and recall knowledge through techniques such as quizzing, flipped learning and frequent assessment. This builds firm foundations for progression to the next level and exam success.

Curriculum impact

At Sacred Heart our curriculum:

  • ensures that sequences of learning build on previous knowledge whilst supporting future progression.
  • leads to qualifications that are of worth for employers and for entry to further and higher education.
  • enables all pupils to fulfil their potential.
  • meets the needs of pupils of all abilities
  • allows pupils to acquire an appreciation and respect for their own and other cultures
  • prepares pupils to make informed choices at the end of KS3, KS4 and beyond.

Rationale for Key Stages

KS3 (Key Stage 3)

Pupils are placed in form groups by ability from arrival after being tested prior to entry to the school. These classes are known as M, P, T, B and C and ensure that teachers are able to teach groups of broadly similar ability.

English, Maths and Science are taught, where possible, in sets rather than form groups. Throughout Key Stage 3, pupils have formal assessments in all subjects twice a year, the results of which are combined into a whole year group rank order which determines new form classes and sets for core subjects. This enables us to track progress, build key knowledge across all subjects and plan interventions.

At Sacred Heart all students follow a three-year Key Stage 3 to give them a wider breadth of subjects and depth of teaching over a longer period. In addition to core and foundation subjects, the curriculum at Key Stage 3 is complemented by drop-down days, sessions and workshops that ensure pupils receive a rich education in PSHE, SRE, Life Skills and Financial and Careers education.

Key Stage 3 options subjects plan their curriculums on the assumption that students will not select their subject for Key Stage 4. In this way, subject leaders think carefully about the most important knowledge and skills that students from their subject will take forward for the rest of their lives.

The curriculum at Key Stage is broad and balanced, and mapped against the National Curriculum. This includes music, drama, art, and modern foreign languages. Students, no matter their academic ability, study the same subjects for three years, with only a very few occasions when students do not study a Modern Foreign Language.

Students make their KS4 option choices at the end of Year 9. The school provides students with detailed advice and support in selecting the most appropriate options pathway.


KS4 (Key Stage 4)

Students at Sacred Heart follow a traditional two-year Key Stage four. They sit RE (Religious Education) GCSE at the end of Year 10. This model allows the school to offer more time to core and Ebacc subjects as well as reducing the burden of exams on students in Year 11. This does not negatively impact achievement in RE with the subject consistently being the highest achieving of all core subjects, it also builds confidence and resilience in pupils in terms of tackling public examinations ahead of the crucial challenges of Year 11. All students continue an RE education beyond Year 10 through the activities planned by the chaplaincy team, as well as one general RE lesson per week for all 6th form students. Most students follow the English Baccalaureate and study a modern foreign language. The very small number of students who do not study a foreign language at GCSE level did study one at Key Stage 3. Many native speakers are also given the opportunity to study and sit GCSEs in their home language.


KS5 (Key Stage 5)

KS5 courses are completed over two academic years. These are loaded generously with subjects receiving 7 50-minute periods per week in Year 12 and 13 wherever possible. In both Year 12 and 13 one period per week is also devoted to enrichment.

Period Length

All our periods are 50 minutes in length. We have six periods per day and thirty per week.

Subject loading by year group

English

Year

Periods Per Week

Rationale

7

4

Our Year 7 curriculum focuses on engagement, creativity and key skills to support the large numbers of students who arrive at the school below the national average for reading and writing. This is supported by detailed assessment of reading age and intervention for the weakest readers using the before school Lexia programme. We maintain four lessons per week in all three years of Key Stage 3 to enable rigour and depth of study.

8

4

9

4

 

Maths

Year

Periods Per Week

Rationale

7

4

We use Years 7, 8 and 9 to embed the key knowledge, as well as help pupils develop a passion for Mathematics and an understanding of the importance and usefulness of Mathematics in the World and our society.
We maintain four lessons per week in all three years of Key Stage 3 to enable rigour and depth of study.

8

4

9

4

 

Science

Year

Periods Per Week

Rationale

7

4

Year 7 and 8 covers general foundation concepts across all three scientific disciplines.
We maintain four lessons per week in Year 7 and Year 8 to enable rigour and depth of study.

8

4

9

4

The Year 9 curriculum begins with the study of key concepts in Biology, Chemistry and Physics as well as Maths in Science, prior to beginning KS4 content in the second term. Four lessons are maintained to enable rigour and depth of study.

 

R.E.

Year

Periods Per Week

Rationale

7

2

Two periods per week allows us to build pupils key knowledge and understanding of the main tenets, beliefs and history of Christianity, building on the knowledge many of our pupils already have as the majority are of the Catholic faith. Two lessons also enables us to fulfil statutory requirements as set out by the Diocese.

8

3

Three periods per week allows us to add further depth and rigour to our pupils understanding and knowledge, effectively preparing them for early entry GCSE in Year 10. It also enables us to continue to fulfil statutory requirements as set out by the Diocese

9

3

 

 History

Year

Periods Per Week

Rationale

7, 8, 9

3 (2 in Year 9)

Three periods per week, decreasing to two in year 9 to allow extra time that Geography did not receive in year 7 and 8), provides a solid foundation for later study. In addition, those students who do not continue with History at GCSE level have still studied enough of the subject’s key ideas to benefit them in later life.

 

Geography

Year

Periods Per Week

Rationale

7, 8, 9

2 (3 in Year 9)

Two periods per week, increasing to three in year 9 provides a solid foundation for later study. In addition, those students who do not continue with Geography at GCSE level have still studied enough of the subject’s key ideas to benefit them in later life.

 

Drama

Year

Periods Per Week

Rationale

7 to 9

1

At KS3 all students receive one period of Drama per week. This provides them with good exposure to arts subjects and a more enriched curriculum, as well as building creativity, self confidence and team working skills. Many pupils also part in the enhanced curriculum offered by the department, such as the Drama society.

 

Music

Year

Periods Per Week

Rationale

7 to 9

1

At KS3 all students receive one period of Music per week. This provides them with good exposure to arts subjects and a more enriched curriculum, as well as building creativity, self confidence and team working skills. Many pupils also learn a musical instrument or take part in the enhanced curriculum offered by the department.

 

 Computer Science

Year

Periods Per Week

Rationale

7,8, 9

1

Throughout Key Stage 3 we provide students with one dedicated period on IT / Computing per week. This provides them with the essential foundations in IT literacy which are used in all subjects as well as E-Safety so they can be safe online, as well as

 

 Practical P.E.

Year

Periods Per Week

Rationale

7, 8, 9

2

An increasing body of research demonstrates the link between physical health and cognitive ability. Therefore, two periods are given to PE throughout Key Stage 3 This extra loading also allows students to develop their social and emotional skills such as teamworking. This helps the integration of our new students in Year 7.

 

History of Art

Year

Periods Per Week

Rationale

7

1

Pupils in Year 7 receive one lesson per week in the History of Art. This enables them to build their appreciation of art and art history, as well as providing them with transferable skills of analysis and cultural capital.

 

Rationale for Carousels

We operate an Arts and Technology carousel at Sacred Heart throughout lower school. The carousels allow us to maintain as broad and balanced a curriculum as possible for as long as possible whilst maintaining greater loading for the core subjects. By having these subjects in a carousel, the students receive the following periods over the key stage:

Structure and Rationale of Subjects in the Carousels

Art, Graphics, Food and Nutrition and Construction

Year

Periods Per Week

Rationale

7 to 9

2 for 10 weeks

We allocate a double period to these subjects each week as it gives the students more time do project work and develop their creative ideas rather than having it split into two singles where it would be difficult to allow adequate demonstration or practice time. The length of teaching blocks before children rotate to a new subject is determined by the relevant HODs of each department, with care given to ensure all subjects teach some of the key underpinning principles of project-based work.

 

Rationale for Option Routes

The students at Sacred Heart make their GCSE option choices at the end of Year 9.

Teachers help support and guide students towards the most appropriate pathways to challenge them academically and provide as much choice as possible for them to continue their studies at KS5 and beyond.

All students study English Language, English Literature, Maths, Science (Triple or Combined) and RE and they also choose two subjects from the below list. Based on student choices subjects are then blocked appropriately to ensure as many pupils as possible can study their first choice of subjects, as well as courses appropriate to their likely future academic pathways. Students are also encouraged to stuck for the 

Options offered:

  • Art
  • Computer Science
  • Construction
  • Creative I-Media
  • Drama
  • Food and Nutrition
  • Geography
  • Graphics
  • Health and Social Care
  • History
  • Music
  • PE

 

Subject loading by year group

In Year 10 and 11 pupils are now taught in sets for English, Maths, Science, RE and Languages and their dedicated option groups for subjects they have chosen for GCSE. Some, but not many, pupils no longer study Languages and instead study for a qualification in Work Skills.

 English

Year

Periods Per Week

Rationale

10 / 11

5

English increases to five lessons per week from four in Key Stage 3 to cater for the content heavy specification and the fact pupils are studying for two GCSEs in Language and Literature. Double lessons at least once per year group allow for times exam practice without disrupting other subjects, as well as allowing for rigorous development of knowledge and skills.

 

Maths

Year

Periods Per Week

Rationale

10 /11

4 / 6

Maths maintains four lessons per week in Year 10, but increase to six lessons per week in Year 11 to allow for parity with the teaching time for English over the course of Key Stage 4. Double lessons at least once per year group allow for times exam practice without disrupting other subjects, as well as allowing for rigorous development of knowledge and skills.

 

Science

Year

Periods Per Week

Rationale

10 /11

6

Science has six lessons per week in Year 10 and in Year 11, to allow for the demands of triple and combined Science qualifications. At least two double lessons per week ensure adequate time for practicals and timed exam practice, as well as allowing for rigorous development of knowledge and skills.

 

Language /work skills

Year

Periods Per Week

Rationale

10 /11

4

Languages have four lessons per week to allow for the demands of GCSE, with a double lesson to allow for extended exam practice and rigorous development of knowledge and skills.

 

Practical P.E.

Year

Periods Per Week

Rationale

10 /11

1

In order to help pupils to maintain a healthy lifestyle and encourage them to be physically active, we ensure they still receive one lesson of practical PE per week with specialist PE teachers or coaches.

 

Options A / B

Year

Periods Per Week

Rationale

10 /11

3 / 4

Option subjects are given three lessons in year 10 and four in Year 11 to ensure adequate time for the rigorous development of knowledge and skills. Double lessons in each year group benefit in-depth teaching and the practical work.

 

Year 12 / 13

Rationale:

Pupils study two, three or four options for a minimum of seven lessons per week, and have supervised study when they are ‘free’. Pupils are offered a wide range of academic and more vocational courses, depending on grades or points scores at GCSEs and which pathway best suits them. Seven lessons, rather than six ensures pupils have maximum possible amount of contact time with specialist teachers and develop the depth and breadth of skills and knowledge required to succeed at A Level and then thrive at University.

Many of our students stay on at Sacred Heart school for 6th form, while external students also arrive. Pupils are given the chance to widen their experiences and life skills through our enrichment programme and further develop their independence through supervised library studies lessons. We begin the UCAS process as early as possible in Year 12, with pupils receiving support from their form tutor as well as the pastoral team and a designated member of SLT.

Pupils study three or four options for seven lessons per week, and have supervised study when they are ‘free’. In order to cater for deficits in learning that arise, many teachers take extra small groups of pupils or individual pupils during private study lessons.

The options pupils can choose from are as follows:

  • Art
  • Biology
  • Business Studies
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • English Literature
  • French
  • Further Maths
  • Geography
  • Government and Politics
  • Graphics
  • Health and Social Care (double or triple BTEC)
  • History
  • Maths
  • Music (BTEC)
  • PE
  • Photography
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Spanish
  • RE
     
  • Enrichment (all pupils one lesson a week)
  • General RE (all pupils one lesson a week)

 

Assessment

  • All pupils are assessed in all subjects via GCSE style grades in a full set of formal examinations which take place twice a year from year 7. Targets are set for minimum progress based on KS2 SATs.
  • Departments formally review assessment data and pupil progress after each set of exams and departments in conjunction with the pastoral team intervene to challenge any under-achievement.
  • Parents receive reports twice a year. The reports will indicate the progress that pupils have made towards their target grade and an indication of their behaviour and attitude to learning.

Curriculum Review

  • Curriculum implementation and impact is reviewed and quality assured through line management, light touch learning walks and formal lesson observation programmes.
  • The curriculum delivered in each subject is reviewed annually by subject leaders to ensure the sequence of delivery allows pupils to build on their knowledge and that pupils are sufficiently stretched and challenged.
  • The curriculum hours and subjects offered are analysed by the senior leadership team on an annual basis.
  • During the Covid-19 pandemic the curriculum was reviewed constantly in every subject area to take into account changes to external exams in 2021. Investment was also been made in equipment, training and INSET to ensure the highest possible standard of remote learning.

Last edited June 2022

Mr L. Williams
Associate Deputy Headteacher