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St Mary's Catholic High School


Students in IT room

Curriculum Intent

The curriculum at St Mary’s Catholic High School, both within the classroom and beyond, intends to awaken curiosity in our students about the world around them, and is designed to be delivered in a motivational and engaging way that is inclusive and accessible to all.

We seek to educate the whole person through a curriculum based on Christian principles and centred on the needs and aspirations of our students, parents and wider community. We strive to develop strength of character and confidence by stressing the pursuit of success, concern for others, and respect for each student’s individual talents.

Whilst examination outcomes are important, we recognise that there is more to school than just this, we therefore aim to offer access to a range of high-quality enrichment activities which aims to broaden students’ horizons beyond the classroom.

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

Our curriculum therefore aims to provide all students with:

  • a broad and balanced curriculum rich in knowledge and experience both in and outside of the classroom which builds on the understanding and skills gained at Key Stage 2
  • equality of access to learning for all, with high expectations and appropriate levels of challenge and support
  • subject choices to support their learning and progression, and enable them to make informed choices at the end of Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4 and beyond
  • support of their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development which reflects our Christian ethos and Mission Statement, and a knowledge and understanding of British Values
  • support for their physical and emotional development, enabling them to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing
  • the ability to develop independent learning skills and resilience, to equip them for further/higher education and employment, along with the essential life-skills they need to succeed throughout their lives
  • a long-lasting knowledge and understanding of the Catholic Faith and the core principles of Catholic Social Teaching, and that of other world faiths.

St Mary's Catholic High School's curriculum conforms to  the Department for Education's (DfE) statutory guidance regarding the National Curriculum.

DfE - National Curriculum in England (Secondary)

Curriculum Implementation

smhs curriculum structure 2021 2022.pdf

Key Stage 3

From Years 7 to 9, Key Stage 3 is a three-year programme of study providing the essential building blocks to ensure success in later life. At this stage, students will build upon their experience of Key Stage 2 and continue to acquire the knowledge and skills to support their success at Key Stage 4 and beyond, irrespective of the pathways they choose.

All students follow a core curriculum, which is delivered through a variety of mixed ability and ability grouped teaching, with additional literacy and numeracy support for those who need it. All students study a full range of academic and creative subjects, which can be followed at GCSE if chosen.

Students develop the main key skills of literacy, communication, numeracy, team building as an integral part of the curriculum, together with learning and thinking skills, which will allow them to flourish as independent learners.

A programme of support is offered to students and parents in Year 9 in the ‘options’ process where they can select subjects to study in addition to their core entitlement. Their engagement with the Key Stage 3 careers programme helps to guide student choice rather than dictate it.

Key Stage 4

Studied in Years 10 and 11, Key Stage 4 offers students a more varied range of subjects to study for two years. These subjects are selected to further diversify the curriculum they followed in Key Stage 3 and allows students to study subjects in more detail for which they have a particular interest, talent, career aspiration or preferred learning style.

All students follow ‘core’ GCSE courses in Religious Studies, English, Mathematics and Science, along with non-examination Physical Education and PSHE. Two or three further subjects are studied as ‘option’ GCSE or BTEC subjects. All subjects studied at Key Stage 4 lead to accredited qualifications and support progression to post-16 education and training. Students in Key Stage 4 are set according to academic ability in core subjects. Option subjects are largely mixed ability.

Students have the opportunity to follow a curriculum centred on the English Baccalaureate - to study both a Humanity and a Language subject in addition to the core entitlement. Students requiring additional educational support may, in addition to studying the National Curriculum, have curriculum time dedicated to social skills and numeracy, literacy development.

Additionally, all students have access to a Work-Related Learning through a programme of careers education, work experience, and enrichment activities in preparation for their post-16 destinations and beyond.

Curriculum Impact and Review

Scrutinised by the school’s Governing Body, the curriculum, including hours and subjects offered, is reviewed by the senior leadership team on an annual basis. The curriculum impact will be informed by:

  • progress and attainment data for all year groups
  • outcomes for students in public examinations
  • student behaviour information
  • student attendance data
  • post-16 destinations information
  • quality assurance, including lesson observations and work scrutiny
  • student engagement in enrichment activities
  • progress towards the Gatsby benchmarks
  • external professional reviews, including school advisors
  • student voice opportunities
  • parental feedback opportunities.