Learning - Our Curriculum Intent
Our curriculum reflects and embodies everything we believe about young people and our purpose as a school. The ‘curriculum’ is far broader than subject knowledge that is taught in lessons and is assessed through externally awarded qualifications. Rather it is the sum total of all of the formal and informal learning opportunities the school provides (before, during and after school), all geared to preparing students for their future lives.
We firmly believe that our learners have limitless potential, and our responsibility is to nurture this potential, so that students achieve more than they think possible, academically, socially, and personally.
Naturally our curriculum is informed by what we value and therefore it promotes and provides opportunities for students to become:
- Resilient, independent and enquiring learners who are highly motivated to achieve their full potential;
- Aspirational and confident individuals who are fully engaged with their learning and development;
- Respectful citizens who make a positive contribution to their community and are reflective, showing understanding towards others;
- Leaders of themselves and others.
To support our students in their academic, social and personal development, we have designed our curriculum with the following principles in mind:
- Students should acquire a sound body of subject-specific knowledge across a wide range of subjects in KS3 and KS4, including in the performing and visual arts.
- Students require frequent opportunities to re-visit and apply this knowledge so that it is consolidated.
- Students need opportunities to learn and practise subject-specific skills, and more generic skills such as; finding, interpreting and evaluating information and data; communicating thoughts and feelings in writing and verbally; working effectively with other people in teams.
- There should be clear learning pathways, with progression routes clearly planned and known by students, from KS3 into KS4, and then into KS5 and beyond.
- Careers’ Education Information, Advice and Guidance is necessary throughout a students’ school experience so that they can make informed decisions, having been exposed to career options with which they and their families might not previously be familiar.
- Our students will be the future workforce, and our curriculum needs to reflect local, national and international employment opportunities.
- Our students will be future leaders, and need opportunities to learn to influence others’ thinking and behaviours, and take on significant responsibility.
- Our students will be future partners and parents and need to learn how to build and sustain respectful, healthy relationships.
- Our curriculum offer takes account of students’ differing needs, be this because of their different academic starting points and/or their additional special educational needs; regardless, we have the highest expectations of our students to fulfil their potential. Our curriculum, therefore, is not identical for every student, nor for every cohort.
- Our curriculum aims to broaden students’ cultural awareness and promote social mobility, especially for our least advantaged students.
How we implement our Curriculum in practice
The House System in Key Stages 3 and 4 is our prime driver for student leadership development. In Tutor sessions we use a student-led model, with students leading tutor sessions and discussions. Assemblies are also often student led. This approach allows students to build their resilience, confidence and oral communication skills, therefore preparing them for later life.
Students’ learning continues from Key Stage 2, and primary liaison and outreach focus on developing a good understanding of students’ prior learning, so that learning of key concepts and skills are mastered, not simply repeated. We identify students who have not consolidated key learning from the primary phase and shape their curriculum accordingly, for example through provision of a reading recovery (phonics) intervention.
At Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9), students study a core curriculum of: English, Mathematics, Science, Art Design and Technology (ADT), Digital Learning and Computing (DLC), Drama, Humanities (Geography, History and Religious Studies), Modern Foreign Languages (French and German), Music, Personal Social Health Education (PSHE), Physical Education.
We are passionate about reading and all subject areas make extensive use of our Study Centre for individual and group independent learning. The English Curriculum includes fortnightly lessons dedicated to reading. Tutor sessions also promote the development of students’ reading skills, through House novels, and through weekly access to the Independent’s ‘i paper’ and daily access to ‘theday.co.uk’. Both of these promote discussion and understanding of current affairs. Books prizes are our default recognition of academic progress.
The vast majority, but not all students, study languages; some students will receive additional literacy tuition. A small cohort of students will follow the Prince’s Trust Achieve programme, which develops their confidence, communication and thinking skills.
Students can develop their leadership skills via the following opportunities and programmes: Digital Leaders, Sports Leaders, and Language Leaders. These programmes have significant involvement in outreach primary work. The Student Librarian scheme and House Council provide further opportunities for students to give something back to their school community. The Student Leadership Team recruits students to work on school improvement priorities and they collaborate often with our Student Governors. Students are beginning to have an input into shaping their learning through planning and delivering PSHRE schemes and lessons. Opportunities such as working with the Grass Routes organisation are afforded to our students in receipt of Pupil Premium.
Film Club and Book Group provide cultural enrichment activities, as do Junior Choir and a variety of School Bands. The annual whole school production provides multiple opportunities for students to act, sing, produce, direct, stage-manage and set-design.
Coding Club, Lego Club and Race for the Line are options for students wanting to develop their design and technological skills. In Year 8, the Science Fair is the culmination of a term’s long independent project set within the Science curriculum, and projects focus on the interdependence of science, technology, engineering and maths.
Independent learning is continuously promoted through Homelearning, and Study Club is available for any student who wishes to attend after school.
Visits by employers and to their work places are organised frequently and regularly; career options and requirements are explored through PSHRE, and Year 9 students access Ambitions careers fair. This opportunity for all builds on one to one interviews and bespoke career opportunities available throughout Years 7-9. Links with Higher Education providers such as the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol also enrich curriculum delivery, such as in Modern Foreign Languages and Science.
Students’ teamwork, health and fitness are developed through the array of lunchtime and afterschool sports clubs and teams, which include: Dance, Football, Netball, Rugby, Athletics, Rounders, Cricket, Cross Country. Students’ mental health and well-being is nurtured, and is a focus of PSHE, but is additionally supported by trained student peers, Off the Record input and individualised provision by our Mental Health First Aiders.
At Key Stage 4 (Years 10 – 11), students continue to study a broad and balanced curriculum which promotes a variety of different progression routes into sixth form, further education and apprenticeships.
Students study GCSEs in English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, and Science (‘combined’ science or the separate sciences of Biology, Chemistry and Physics). Where appropriate, students study Languages (French and/or German) and Humanities subjects (Geography and History) and therefore their taught, formal curriculum is Ebacc compliant. This is not appropriate for all students, however, and our individualised CEIAG input enables students to make informed choices.
The performing and visual arts are strengths of our curriculum, and uptake is high in: Art GCSE, Dance BTEC, Drama GCSE, Music BTEC, Music GCSE, Sport BTEC.
Design Technology GCSE, Engineering BTEC, Computer Science GCSE and Creative Media / I.T. Cambridge Nationals are offered; our local economy demands skilled workers in these fields.
In addition, students can select from Religious Studies GCSE, Business Studies GCSE, and Food Preparation and Nutrition GCSE.
All students participate in a full PSHRE (Personal, Social, Health and Religious Education) programme that also includes impartial Careers Education Information and Guidance sessions. All students benefit from Industry Day in Year 10 and Mock Interview Day in Year 11. There are opportunities throughout KS4 for all students to have one to one careers’ guidance meetings, and access a range of bespoke employer engagement activities. Furthermore, all students receive 3 hours of recreational sports across the timetable, and can opt for a diverse range of off-site options.
A small minority of students will study Entry Level qualifications, normally in English and Mathematics, and may also have additional mathematics and / or English tuition; very able mathematicians may also study Further Mathematics GCSE.
Small cohorts of students may follow the SWEET programme, designed to build confidence and develop basic skills of communication and thinking. Some students may have additional time on their timetables to support their pre/over-learning, and help them take responsibility for and manage their Homelearning.
Students can continue to develop their leadership skills via Sports Leadership programmes, and the Language Leaders initiative. The Student Librarian scheme and House Council are also open to KS4 students. Our Student Leadership Team and team of Student Governors rely on our Year 10 and 11 students to role model to younger students what they are capable of influencing, leading and implementing. The Duke of Edinburgh Scheme begins at KS4, and students undertake voluntary activities and new learning, as well as physically demanding expeditions.
Theatre trips provide cultural enrichment activities, as do Senior Choir and a variety of School Bands; KS4 students often lead these activities and initiate these groups’ existence. The annual whole school production provides multiple opportunities for students to act, sing, produce, direct, stage-manage and set-design, and not just for students studying qualifications in Drama, Music, Dance or Art.
Coding Club and Lego Club are examples of clubs led by KS4 students.
Independent learning is promoted through Homelearning, and Study Club is available for any student who wishes to attend after school; after school revision sessions operate all year round and are increasingly available for Year 10 as well as Year 11 students.
Visits by employers and to their work places are organised frequently and regularly; career options and requirements are explored through PSHE. The Community Apprentice scheme links students with local employers and promotes students’ employability skills.
Students’ teamwork and health and fitness are developed through the array of lunchtime and afterschool sports clubs and teams, which include: Dance, Football, Netball, Rugby, Athletics, Rounders, Cricket, Cross Country. Students’ mental health and well-being is nurtured, and is a focus of PSHE, but is additionally supported by trained student peers, Off the Record input and individualised provision by our Mental Health First Aiders. The Grass Routes initiative is also focused on supporting students’ confidence and resilience.
There are bespoke curriculum provision is planned to develop students’ life skills and preparation for life post-16 for our most vulnerable students e.g. the Aspire programme.
Every opportunity is taken to use student voice to refine and plan our provision, including in PSHRE, to ensure it stays relevant to students’ lives.
At Key Stage 5 (Years 12 - 13), our sixth form curriculum is delivered in collaboration with Chipping Sodbury School and Yate Academy, known as Cotswold Edge Consortium. Students from the three institutions benefit from a highly flexible and diverse range of Level 3 academic and vocational qualifications, Level 2 academic and vocational qualifications and a Level 1 provision for students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.
Every student is able to study three A-Levels, agreed after personalised consultation sessions, delivered across both schools. A range of academic Level 3 qualifications are offered, including the following:
- Design Engineering
- Design Textiles
- English Language
- English Literature
- Film Studies
- Physical Education
- Product Design
- Religious Studies
Students in our sixth form are also able to study a carefully selected range of Level 3 vocational qualifications:
- Health and Social Care (single and double award)
- Children's Play Learning and Development
- BTEC Sport
- BTEC Applied Science
- Creative Media
We also support students for whom Level 2 studies are an appropriate pathway, including students who are improving their achievement in English and mathematics.
Ofqual have recently announced that A-Level exams take place at the end of Year 13. Therefore, students no longer sit modular examinations during the academic year, nor AS Level examinations at the end of Year 12.
Vocational Level 3 assessment comprises a range of continuous assessment, controlled assessments and formal examinations. Students’ progress is carefully tracked and monitored by individual teachers, subject leaders and sixth form leadership.
Brimsham Green sixth formers participate in a comprehensive enrichment programme. For example, students are able to: pursue an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ); engage in the Young Enterprise programme; participate in the Grass Routes programme; volunteer to work with lower school students by running clubs in lunchtimes such as Read Aloud, Manga and Harry Potter Club. Students also volunteer to work in partner primary schools and local nurseries; participate in the National Citizenship Service; or work closely with senior citizens in the local area. A wide range of sports and mentoring activities are also included within the school’s enrichment programme. The Duke of Edinburgh programme extends to Gold Award.
A significant focus of cultural enrichment is our long-standing partnership with Hosanna primary school in Uganda. Year 12 and 13 students visit staff and students on a biennial basis, planning an enriched curriculum experience which they deliver. Brimsham students fundraise to make this close partnership working possible.
Finally, sixth form students also receive a personalised programme of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE). Within this part of the curriculum, students continue to develop their independent study skills and receive personalised careers education and guidance. Students are fully supported in all their future career aspirations. A very high proportion of students complete the UCAS application process, including those students who complete Oxbridge applications. The impact is shown within our destinations data.