Curriculum Overview at KS4 (Years 10 and 11)

Curriculum Vision

The central aim of our school community is to create, deepen and enhance our individual response to the person of Jesus, the Risen Christ who is really present to all of us through the Eucharist.  The solemn Eucharistic Prayer before and after the Consecration, ends with these beautiful words: ‘Through Christ our Lord from whom all good things come.’ This great truth does not simply include virtues and aspirations but the lasting impact of Jesus on human history and on our lives.  If there was no Risen Christ, there would be no Mozart, no Shakespeare, no Einstein, no Rembrandt. Therefore, we must develop our relationship with the Risen Christ and manifest this in a passionate commitment to study, to our own maturity and to the good of others.

Leo Tolstoy maintained that the ‘vocation of all us must be the welfare of others.’ Pope Francis echoed these words when he declared, ‘It is important to be happy during this life but it’s even more important that other people are happy because of us.’ Christ lays this down in his Golden Rule, to love our neighbour as ourselves, including our enemies.

Our spiritual life is more than merely going to church.  We must be committed not only to avoiding evil but doing real good. In Dickens’s story ‘The Christmas Carol,’ Ebenezer Scrooge does nothing wrong. He pays his rates and taxes, he is abstemious about his food and drink, he’s not extravagant. However, as a human being, Scrooge fails not because he did anything wrong, but because he did nothing right.  Scrooge eventually finds salvation in service to others and so each of us must use our God-given talents for the glory of God and the good of our neighbour and the community.

The motto of Trinity Catholic High School is ‘In Christo Florebimus’ – ‘In Christ we shall flourish.’ Consequently, we do not view the curriculum as merely the teaching of a syllabus or a programme of study. Qualifications are indeed very important however our mission is far more encompassing and concerned with the holistic development of each student. Cardinal Hume said ‘Schools should produce young people with ideas and dreams, with a vision of what they want to achieve in life, who have a strong sense of service, of care and compassion for those in need and who have above all else a love of life, a zest for living life to the full.’ Our curriculum seeks to provide a rounded education nurturing the intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual development of all students, ‘a rich path made up of many ingredients because development is the result of different elements that act together and stimulate intelligence, knowledge, the emotions, the body, and so on.’ (Pope Francis).  Our curriculum and teaching, like our motto, must be vigorously passionate, inspiring excellence and aspiration, so as to allow all of us to develop our talents and, as the psalmist says, ‘soar on wings like eagles.’

 

Curriculum Aims

  • To place the Risen Christ, and our personal relationship with him through the Eucharist, at the very heart of our school community.
  • To deepen, develop and enhance education at Trinity so it is a rich, living and vibrant experience.
  • To ensure equal access to learning and opportunity for all students, with high expectations for all and appropriate levels of challenge and support.
  • To uphold the rights and the dignity of every human person, celebrating diversity, developing shared common values and a strong sense of community.
  • To ensure that love and enjoyment of learning lies in the very sinews of every individual and our school community at large.
  • To create a truly disciplined, broad and balanced learning environment which challenges students appropriately, inspiring excellence and aspiration in all its forms, stretching the boundaries of individual ability, supporting and encouraging students to respond and develop in their own unique and individual way.
  • To ensure academic excellence across the curriculum – the tradition and rigour of subject domains is respected and students develop intellectual curiosity and the disciplinary habits of mind required for sustained, meaningful and deep subject engagement and progression.
  • To develop students as autonomous learners and resilient individuals who are self-directed and self- motivated.
  • To provide learning experiences both in and outside the classroom, responsive to the needs, aspirations and interests of students, in order to enrich learning and development at every level of the whole human person.
  • To ensure that students come to realise that they are truly valued and honoured, where individual endeavour, achievement and growth, in all its forms, is recognised and nurtured.
  • To develop the qualities, knowledge and skills necessary for students to shape their destinies and progress successfully to the next stage of their life, further study or career.
  • To develop outward looking students, with wisdom and compassion that broadens perspective beyond the self, the aspiration to develop talents to the full and the moral integrity, knowledge and skills to use gifts for the greater good of society.

 

Curriculum planning is underpinned by the following principles:

  • Balanced – developing the spiritual, intellectual, moral, cultural, social and physical potential of students; ensuring each area of learning and experience is given sufficient attention in relation to others and the whole curriculum.
  • Rigorous – cognitively demanding and suitably challenging, aiming to support high standards of achievement and nurture aspiration.
  • Coherent – making explicit connections and links between different units of work and different subject domains developing an appreciation of the interconnectivity of knowledge.
  • Vertically integrated – focusing on progression by carefully sequencing knowledge and skill development; providing clarity about what ‘getting better’ at the subject means.
  • Appropriate – meets the needs of all students, matching and extending levels of challenge to a student’s current level of maturity / knowledge / skill.
  • Focused – keeping the curriculum manageable by teaching the most important knowledge, the big ideas or key concepts within a subject.
  • Relevant – identifying valued outcomes of a curriculum both in terms of progress within school and in the world beyond school.

 

Structure of the School Day

The structure of the school day is as outlined below. There are 20 periods of formal lessons a week and 4 periods daily. The school largely operates on a weekly timetable for most subjects, though some subjects are taught on a fortnightly basis. School extends to 15.45pm every Monday for form period. Elements of the school’s CPR programme (Citizenship, PSHE, and RSE) are incorporated into this time.

Time Activity
8.55 Period 1
10.20 Break
10.35 Period 2
11.50 Lunch
12.35 Period 3
13.50 Break
14.05 Period 4
15.20 End of day (Tuesday to Friday)

 

The Curriculum at Key Stage 4

Our students continue with a broad, balanced and rigorous curriculum at KS4. Core subjects, English, mathematics, science (combined or Triple), PE and CPR are compulsory and studied by all students. All students study for a GCSE in Religious Education – our Catholic faith is central to school life and therefore central to the curriculum at GCSE.

Three optional subjects are chosen by students and all students have access to the full range of choices. Students are encouraged to choose options which relate to their interests and which facilitate future career aspirations. Students are well informed about the benefits of an academic pathway such as the EBacc and are encouraged to continue with a humanities subject and a modern foreign language and/or heritage subject. Our options reflect a board and balanced curriculum comprising languages, humanities, technology and arts subjects. Most students study for 9 GCSEs (some 10). A small number of students will study fewer and are supported through our bespoke Learning Support programme with extra English and mathematics and a ‘Careers and Experiencing Work’ short course.

In summary:

  • All students study the following subjects: GCSE English Language, GCSE English Literature, GCSE Mathematics, GCSE Combined Science, GCSE Religious Education and core PE.
  • All students study CPR (Citizenship, PSHE, and RSE). This programme is integrated across subject areas.
  • All students study for two GCSEs in Combined Science. However, there is choice for students to select Triple Science as one of their options.
  • Core PE does not lead to a qualification though there is the option to extend the study of PE by choosing GCSE PE within the option blocks.
  • Students in the top set for mathematics study for an additional GCSE in Statistics.
  • Careers Education and Guidance continues throughout KS4, supporting raised aspirations and giving students the knowledge and confidence to make informed decisions about further study and employment options. All students partake in a two- week work experience programme in Y10.

Across a 20 – period week the period allocation for KS4 subjects is as follows:

Key Stage 4 Subjects Year 10 Year 11
English 3 4
Mathematics 4 3
Science 3 4
Theology 2 2
PE 2 1
Option 1 2 2
Option 2 2 2
Option 3 2 2

Typically subjects tend to be taught in double period blocks allowing time for the rigorous, in-depth study required for the sustained engagement necessary for high academic achievement and subject mastery.

Optional subjects are as follows:

Art Business Computer Science
Construction Design Technology Drama
Economics French Food Preparation and Nutrition
Geography History Media
Music Physical Education Psychology
Triple Science Spanish

 

Reading

Reading is the master skill for cross-curricular success in secondary schools. The KS4 curriculum is dominated by text, both in print and on screen, and our students need to be able to read effectively in order to understand, make sense of and take meaning from the wide range of texts presented to them. The KS4 curriculum exposes students to dense, expository texts. For a significant number of learners who enter secondary schools with a reading age below their chronological age, the reading demands of the secondary curriculum prove extremely challenging. It is our duty as teachers to provide effective support strategies and equip students to approach these texts strategically so that they know more.

We aim to provide every student with reading skills that are portable and functional, ensuring that they have every chance to become engaged, motivated and independent readers who enjoy their reading, are eager to access the curriculum and who go on to fulfil their potential and achieve economic well- being later in life. Students who are confident readers and writers are likely to have more choices open to them and make a positive contribution to society. A secure understanding of language enables individuals to understand their world and be in a better position to define their place within it. Those who read and have a wide vocabulary are part of a community of people who have ever thought, dreamt or written in the same language. In this way, language and reading connects individuals to something culturally meaningful.

 

Extracurricular Opportunities

The curriculum is broadened further by addressing gaps in opportunity through wider extracurricular opportunities beyond the classroom, developing a curriculum that is flexible, promotes equality of opportunity and is responsiveness to individual needs and aspirations.  Such opportunities impact positively on student engagement, their wellbeing and help foster excellent habits of mind and attitudes to learning. Typically, students develop and discover their interests and talents through wider extracurricular opportunities including work experience; rock and pop concerts and other musical performances; computing competitions; mathematical enrichment challenges; theatre performances; gallery visits; fieldtrips; a wide variety of masterclasses from outside speakers; ‘top’ university trips and talks; gym clubs; Duke of Edinburgh’s Award; sporting activities and a large wealth of other initiatives.

A particular strength in the examination years is the extensive extracurricular study support with revision classes and small group tutorials offered across all subjects. This provision makes a valued contribution to our very high academic standards at KS4. In Year 11 students receive study support in the form of the Darius programme. Darius is a well-established intervention programme that is implemented to raise achievement for those students who are on the borderline for their target grade and could, with a little help and effort, achieve their academic goals.

 

How can I support my son/daughter at KS4?

Many parents/guardians might feel at a loss when their children enter their examination years at KS4. Involvement in these crucial years can make an enormous difference. Below are some ways in which you can support your child to learn and improve.

  • Please do encourage your child to engage with the Digital Learning Hub on the school website. We have compiled some of the best online digital resources to support learning, exploration and subject specific resources used by students within the school. Some subject resources will require individual student log in details. All students that require access will have these details. The hub also includes useful study skills instruction videos such as the Cornell Note Taking Method, Independence Skills and Preparing Effective Flashcards, which will further assist the completion of independent work.
  • Check the presentation and where possible the content of all home study. Home study should be done as soon as possible, preferably on the evening of the day it has been set. Please sign the journal each week. Let the school know if there are any problems with home study that cannot be resolved. Perhaps your child seems to be doing too much, or not enough, or is finding it too easy or difficult.
  • Ensure that outside activities/clubs whilst important do not hamper your child’s quality of work and place them under undue pressure.
  • Students should be regularly testing themselves at home to demonstrate a high level of success. Assist your child with past papers and exam questions so they become further familiar with exam format, question style and time pressures.
  • Parents can assist students with revision through active use of knowledge organisers. They provide a useful overview of some key elements of factual knowledge that students can refer to as a basis for self-quizzing.
  • Staying motivated can be one of the biggest obstacles to studying and revising. Students must set scheduled breaks alongside their study targets. Distractions should be removed where necessary. Students should de-activate gaming or social accounts and turn off their phone when revising or studying. As a reward, they can access these once they achieve set revision tasks.
  • Establishing a revision routine is important. Students should make use of revision plans/wall planners and allocate more time to subjects and topics they are unsure about. Students should be creating their own revision ‘hit lists’. These are the topics that students need to focus on further. Student plans need to be flexible to allow for some topics that may take longer than they expect.
  • Discuss with your child revision strategies that they have completed in the past for tests and mock examinations. What techniques have they found useful and what has not worked so well?  What obstacles does your child face when it comes to revision?  Aspects such as these will need to be considered before a plan is put in place.
  • Students should have the environment necessary for success. Students need a place to revise, which is quiet, calm and comfortable. Things to consider are noise levels, lighting, ability to store their work tidily and not being disturbed by other family members. If there is not a good place to revise at home, please consider the local library. Varying the revision space can often be helpful.
  • Students must attend all revision classes such as Darius and small group tutorials if required to do so. Staff give up their own time to work with students during these sessions and therefore if your child is invited, they are expected to attend. Parental support with this is very much valued.