The school prides itself on offering a broad and balance curriculum. After much debate at school, including a discussion with Governors, we took the decision during the academic year 2017/18 to change how we deliver the curriculum in Year 9 with effect from September 2018.
Having analysed performance at GCSE and BTEC in the options columns across recent years we have reached the decision that students and staff need more time to deliver and study these courses. As it has been a priority not to reduce students’ choices and a commitment to maintaining four option columns, we have decided to start the teaching of those subjects in Year 9. We believe that this change gives students more time to thrive and reach their full potential across 9 challenging GCSE or vocational courses. It means that your child will go through an Options process in Year 8. We combine the Year 8 Options Evening with Parents Evening so that you can talk to your child’s teachers about appropriate choices as well as their progress in that subject during Year 8. Where there are new subjects on offer at KS4, staff are present to consult with you about their detail. We will also offer taster sessions in these subjects during the options process.
I do believe this represents an exciting change to the curriculum for Year 8 moving into Year 9. We have said to staff that we do not expect them to teach GCSE or BTEC specifications from day 1 in September. The Autumn Term of Year 9 will be about skills development – there is the opportunity for us as teachers to be creative and really enthuse students about their subjects. As the option choices are being made a year earlier than in previous years, there will be some flexibility built in to Year 9 if it becomes clear that a student has made a wrong choice – school would discuss such a situation on an individual basis with students and parents. To accommodate this curriculum change we have also moved to a two week timetable in September 2018.
The school is committed to supporting the Government’s aspiration of 90% of students nationally ultimately studying a full Ebacc curriculum. However, it is also our belief is that each child should have the most appropriate curriculum to meet their needs at both KS3 and KS4. Where we believe it is right for a student to study both a Modern Foreign Language and either or both of History and Geography at KS4 we will encourage them to do so. Equally so, we are fully committed to the Arts curriculum, alongside our other options subjects and high quality vocational provision, where it is appropriate for a student. As a result, a pathway approach to options is adopted in Year 8. All students will always have at least two ‘free’ choices in the Options Process, some will have three.