Curriculum Rationale

Introduction

The curriculum at Christ’s School is designed to fulfil our mission statement which aims to ensure that “our students become confident, responsible and successful young people, who love learning, have a desire to lead and to serve, and are ambitious for their own futures”. 

Our student profile is typically mixed ability but with generally higher prior attainment on entry when compared to the national average; our curriculum is designed to meet the needs of all our students with an emphasis on providing the breadth and balance of subjects across all key stages to enable every student to develop their strengths and personal talents. 

The foundations of our curriculum are based around our core Christian values of Love, Justice and Peace and translated through the compulsory subjects of the National Curriculum. Distinctive elements of our curriculum include the study of Religious Education from Year 7 through to Year 11; another is the study of Citizenship, compulsory for all students at Key Stage 3 and an optional subject at Key Stage 4. Both subjects work alongside the other elements of the curriculum with the aim of developing spiritual individuals who are sensitive to the needs of others, embrace diversity and have a commitment to equality and inclusivity. 

Our focus across our 7-year curriculum is to provide all students with the opportunity to develop the skills and acquire the knowledge needed across a broad range of subjects to achieve their potential. Our Key Stage 3 curriculum runs over three years and has been designed, across all subjects, with this end in mind; in some subjects (including Maths; Science; English and RE) students will start the GCSE course towards the end of Year 9. Careful planning and consideration has been given to the skills and knowledge expected at every grade-path from Year 7 through to Year 13; with the focus on repeating and practising these skills so they are embedded, forming firm foundations for study through the GCSE years and on to Key Stage 5. 

Literacy

Reading is an important element of the curriculum; we recognise the importance that vocabulary acquisition and comprehension plays in improving the chances of academic success. All students in Key Stage 3 spend one hour a fortnight in the library as part of their English curriculum. The first ten minutes of every English lesson is also spent reading. One PD time (personal development time) per week is dedicated to reading through our school wide DEAR time (drop everything and read). 

In addition, students who arrive at Christ’s School in Year 7 complete a reading and comprehension programme called ‘Bedrock’ as a part of their library lessons. This focuses on developing excellent vocabulary and strengthens literacy skills.  In addition, the school invests an additional 10 hours of specialist English intervention lessons per fortnight to support targeted Key Stage 3 and 4 students; the same provision is also made for Maths intervention. A tutor is also employed to work 121 or with small groups of students who need further literacy support.

Numeracy

Ensuring that number skills are integrated across the curriculum is a key focus of the school. Students will spend one PD time each week working on key numeracy skills. This constant repetition is invaluable to all students but is especially beneficial to those students whose core number skills are lower than the expected standard.This will include practical problem solving questions, The combination of applying maths skills while processing and decoding written information is excellent preparation for the GCSE in maths but also for the increasing group of subjects that have a significant mathematical component at GCSE and A Level. At Key Stage 3 we run an early intervention programme focusing on small group intervention with students who are identified as making less than expected progress. We concentrate on identifying and tackling the particular misconceptions that each student has and also on rebuilding their confidence and motivation for the subject. The intervention programme has been universally approved of by the participants.

The school has introduced school wide Maths week, with resources to be used in all subjects with the intent of building the resource bank for use in future years. The aim of this is to help students grow in their awareness of the multitudinous applications of Maths for both practical and recreational purposes.  

Learning Support

The Learning Support Department at Christ's School comprises: an SEN Lead; Behaviour; Maths and Literacy specialists; Dyslexia specialist and Learning Support Assistants. This team supports a wide range of Learning, Behavioural, Social and Physical needs. The department also houses an enhanced provision for students with Dyslexia. There are six places spread throughout Key Stage 3 and 4 for students who have an Education, Health and Care plan where dyslexia is the primary area of need.

An Educational Psychologist is employed to work with students when required. In addition, we have Speech and Language therapy intervention,  and involvement from other specialists as and when needed. 

Able and Ambitious Programme

Our Able and Ambitious programme seeks to provide those students who are identified as Most Able (MA) and/or Able and Ambitious (A&A)  with the opportunities for high level performance through a variety of extension and enrichment activities, which challenge and stretch them to achieve their potential. These occur within the curriculum as well as through extra-curricular and additionally scheduled activities. The Able and Ambitious Co-ordinator leads staff in ensuring the identification is undertaken to help inform their teaching and learning in order to provide support for individual students, with a whole-school focus on providing experiences that enhance and extend learning for all Able and Ambitious students.  

Student centred approach to Curriculum Design

We believe it is as important to give the time and opportunity for students to experience PE, the arts, music and technology subjects as it is to study the traditional academic disciplines. At Key Stage 4 we encourage as many of our students as possible to study the full suite of EBaac subjects at GCSE. We provide a bespoke curriculum offer where the curriculum is designed around the preferences and abilities of each cohort. Through our individual student (and parent) meetings we make sure that every student follows a curriculum pathway that suits their needs and aspirations. We have bespoke support in place for our disadvantaged students with PPG Champions employed to give individual students advice and guidance in all year groups with a particular focus in Year 9 on making aspirational GCSE choices, especially for the high prior attaining students. Our curriculum is designed throughout Key Stage 3 and 4 to ensure that our high prior attaining disadvantaged students are taught in the top sets in core subjects. 

Our ‘fundamental British Values’ are enshrined in both the ethos of Christ’s School and in our strategic plan. Our mission is to develop articulate, responsible and active citizens, ensuring each person at Christ’s is treated as unique and precious. By using the values of equality, freedom, responsibility and love to support students to develop wisdom, have hope, live well in the community and demonstrate dignity, we aim to broaden horizons and inspire students to find their way in the world without limits to their ambition. Christ’s School also promotes the values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs by providing students with plenty of opportunities through the KS3 + 4 curriculum (especially through discrete Citizenship lessons) to discuss issues of religion, ethnicity and multiculturalism within Britain and learn how to discuss and debate points of view; and by ensuring that all students are valued and listened to within school. These values are reinforced through our Character and Culture Programme, the Religious Education curriculum and our Collective Worship programme, as well as through regular school visits from local political, faith and other leaders. 

Personal Development

Alongside the academic curriculum we provide a daily, tutor-led programme of personal development which focusses on promoting students’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Our ‘Character and Culture’ curriculum covers all key stages with over 220 individual year group specific sessions. Every week students have the opportunity to develop their character attributes, explore cultural issues or focus on relationships and health education, with each area alternating every half term.

The ‘Character’ part of the programme challenges students with activities that aim to develop leadership skills, oral communication while demonstrating initiative, resilience and organisational skills. Examples include Year 8 students who organise events for local charities, in Year 9 every student takes part in a public speaking challenge.Years 10-13 have the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and support the lower years in their activities.

The ‘Culture’ part of the programme works alongside our whole school Collective Worship and explores our core key values of love, justice and peace. It also focusses on religion and its relationship with modern science and technology. Topics covered also include Black History month, the environment, mental health and kindness. Each topic is explored in a different way by each year group and delivered through group discussions and class debates.

Finally each year group explore topics within our relationship, sex and health education programme. The programme is mapped over all key stages and covers all areas of the new statutory RSHE curriculum. Students have the opportunity to discuss and learn about all aspects of healthy relationships, online safety, physical and mental health that are tailored specifically to meet the needs of each key stage.

Key Stage 5 (Sixth Form/Year 12&13)

In Key Stage 5 a wide range of subjects are offered to study at A level and a small range of BTEC subjects. Each year the curriculum is designed around student needs identified from Year 11 interviews and we have expanded the curriculum to include a more accessible range of A Level subjects. The curriculum is supplemented by an extensive pastoral support programme; mentoring from Key Stage 5 tutors, a dedicated pastoral support worker,  master-classes to stretch and challenge across subject areas and a super-curricular programme. All students participate in a rich and varied enrichment programme on Wednesday afternoons including STEM, debate, journalism, drama and sport. 

With support from a dedicated careers advisor based in the 6th form, we are proud that the overwhelming majority of our students go on to further study at post 16 with approximately 50% of our students staying on to the Sixth Form at Christ’s School. Of that cohort, over 30% traditionally go onto Russell group Universities with over 90% continuing to study at University. 

Enrichment

Our extra-curricular programme offers a variety of opportunities for students in all year groups to supplement and fulfil their academic, sporting, musical and artistic potential. 

The school has a tradition of supporting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) links with outside agencies and there are many opportunities for students to visit institutions, as well as participating in school-based events where experts from this field run workshops with students from the various year groups. Many departments run extra-curricular clubs; the intent is to offer a mixture of academic, musical, creative and sporting opportunities for as many students as possible. 

Examples of embedded and long-standing enrichment activities provided at Christ’s School include: 

  • All departments offer extra-curricular clubs to students across key stages 3-5. These clubs facilitate extended learning opportunities and allow exposure to subject content that may sit outside the subject curriculum.

  • A range of sporting opportunities and activities for students of all abilities. Christ’s School regularly enters a number of local, regional and national sporting competitions and has built a reputation for success in a number of sports, including Basketball, Cricket and Rowing. (Christ’s is recognised in the top 100 state schools for sporting provision) 

  • Duke of Edinburgh Award in Years 10 and 11 (Bronze, Silver and Gold) 

  • Oxbridge Conferences for Able and Ambitious students 

  • Regular author visits to the school 

  • Musical opportunities including choir, jazz band, and orchestra as well as regular in- house and public performances 

  • Annual Art Exhibition 

  • Annual School Drama Production 

  • History and Geography field trips 

  • Foreign exchange visits 

  • World Challenge expeditions

  • Two whole school Enrichment days which include: Museum trips to bodyworks and design museums; a West End theatre trip; Touring Shakespeare and Jo Riches plays; collaborative working with St Johns Ambulance, local nurses, and charities including LVA, Richmond Mind and our community Police Officer; visits from external speakers on finance, local employers discussing career paths, NPL and local universities

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