Students study a broad three year key stage three in most subjects.
Creative subjects cover the breadth of the National Curriculum in two years to allow Year 9 pupils an opportunity to study two creative subjects of their choice in greater depth. They also have the opportunity to choose a second language and additional computer science (alongside that studied as part of ICT in Year 7 and 8).
At key stage four, students study 9 GCSEs including 3 options subjects where students get to choose from a wide variety of courses. We believe that students should be able to select subjects which are academically rigorous and which best meet their interests and career aspirations and match local and national labour markets. Option groups are arranged to allow students to study the Ebacc should they wish. Students are guided throughout the process to ensure that their curriculum remains relevant and appropriate.
At St Mary’s we strive to ensure that every pupil can read with fluency and comprehension. We believe that this is key to unlocking the curriculum. We take a deliberate and intentional approach to language development. This involves dedicated reading time of our literary canon four times per week from Year 7 to Year 10. Students read from a carefully selected canon of books, written by authors from a range of backgrounds, set in different historical periods and contexts. This allows rich discussion and exposure to a wide cultural capital. This is further supported by vocabulary enhancement using the Bedrock platform for home learning. Explicit vocabulary instruction is used across the curriculum, based on the Education Endowment Foundations secondary literacy guidance. Subject areas have their own specific reading approaches or disciplinary literacy. Students who need further support with literacy access a range of literacy interventions - some designed to develop pupils understanding of word morphology and others to support those in the lowest stanines. An extended Literary Canon stretches our most able readers, with a particular focus on our disadvantaged students.
St Mary’s curriculum is a knowledge rich curriculum. We have refined our pedagogy to ensure that the development of long term memory sits at the heart of our approach to lessons. A substantial part of staff CPD has been based on developing our understanding of how pupils learn. Homework is largely based on subject knowledge organisers and the practice of knowledge retrieval supported by regular low stakes quizzing at the start of most lessons. In the latter half of Year 10 and throughout Year 11 reading time is replaced by knowledge retrieval time to allow students to refine their revision and study approaches.
Many students continue their learning in our Sixth Form where they have a choice to study 3 or 4 A level or level 3 courses, alongside General RS and the opportunity to complete an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification). Students in Y12 also have the opportunity to join our Health Academy or Sports Academy. This allows students to gain valuable experience and qualifications in fields which offer significant employment in the local area.
During the lockdown period St Mary’s teachers worked hard to ensure students were not disadvantaged by providing high quality lessons via Google classroom. Google classroom is now the platform of choice for home learning and is still utilised to support students affected by isolation due to COVID. Following both lockdown periods departments have re-visited their curriculum plans and schemes of learning and made adjustments to ensure that key content is re-taught at the appropriate time to ensure students can access new content.
We have identified a gap caused by lockdown in the numeracy skills for students coming from Y6. We have therefore made a one year decision to increase the amount of Maths curriculum time for students in Year 7. This allows them to develop their numeracy to ensure they are able to access the KS3 Maths curriculum.
The Academy is using the recovery premium funding from the government to cover small group and one to one tuition in addition to appointing academic mentors.