At the heart of our curriculum intent is the development of the God given talents of all our pupils and students. As a school we are blessed to have children, full of potential, joining us in Year 7 and successful young adults leave us in Year 13. It is our responsibility as a school and college community to support all of our learners to become the best person they can be.
The expert subject knowledge of all of our staff is at the heart of our curricular offer and the basis of the planning and delivery of the curriculum at St Mary’s Catholic High School. Our teaching staff and post holders within departments are responsible for the content, choice of specifications and implementation of the curriculum in each subject area. Fundamentally they design and deliver a curriculum that both engages and challenges pupils to be successful which ultimately leads to them having a deeply embedded understanding of each subject they study. More than this, in 2023 and beyond we will equip our students and holistically nurture them to develop how to express their understanding and views through the strategy of oracy. This is underpinned by heart of learning: literacy. Elements of literacy are within all subjects to ensure our students are confident readers, listeners, orators and writers within and beyond the classroom. This places pupils in the best position when they face external examinations, by identifying and prioritising improving Teaching and Learning for all students.
Transition points between each of the Key Stages are prioritised, whether this is ensuring that the curriculum at Key Stage 3 builds on and develops the work pupils completed in primary school, the significant support we offer students in Year 9 when making crucial decisions on their GCSE options. As the pupils move on to our Sixth Form they are given high levels of academic and careers based support to ensure that they make the correct choices of subjects to study at Key Stage 5 and finally the intensive support provided to ensure that our students gain a university place, apprenticeship or employment when they leave our Sixth Form.
The Key Stage 3 curriculum that we offer both covers and exceeds the expectation of the National Curriculum. Key Stage 3 starts at Year 7 and finishes at the end of Year 9. In these three years we ensure that solid academic foundations are developed with pupils that allow them to be successful as they move up the school. The breadth of the curriculum in this Key Stage ensures that our pupils have a strong understanding of many subjects and a developing understanding of how these subjects support and interlink with each other.
As pupils move into Key Stage 4 we have a wide selection of subjects. We currently offer twenty one GCSE qualifications and five Level 2 vocational qualifications. These qualifications are delivered over the two year Key Stage 4 and build on the solid foundation of learning from Key Stage 3. At the heart of Key Stage 4 is the promotion of the EBacc subjects and as a school we recognise that for the majority of students the appropriate choice of qualifications should include a modern foreign language and a humanity (Geography or History). The focus on the core subjects of English, maths, science and as a Catholic secondary school, Religious Education means that our pupils are prepared thoroughly for success as they transition out of high school.
The principles behind our Key Stage 5 curriculum is to again further build on and increase the depth of understanding gained in Key Stage 4. The majority of our students in Sixth Form chose to study three qualifications with a small number completing four qualifications. Offering a wide selection of subjects including sixteen A-levels and nine Level 3 BTEC qualifications means that our students can focus their choices with a broad selection of subjects. Many students pick a purely academic pathway of just A-levels, some students pathway is purely vocational qualifications but we also cater for students who chose a mixture of academic and vocational qualifications. The students are supported to success in Key Stage 5 by teachers who have expert knowledge of their subjects both in terms of content and effective delivery. This places our students in a very strong position to successfully transition from our Sixth Form to university, apprenticeships or the world of work.
The pastoral and co- curricular offer and support at St Mary’s is equally as important as the academic journey our pupils make. Our pupils are placed carefully into form groups based on the information and close connections we have with our linked primary schools. The vast majority of our pupil have the same form teacher for their time at St Mary’s and we place importance on this level of continuity as our pupils progress through the school. Alongside the emphasis we place on religious education all pupils and students in our school also receive dedicated PSHE time both within “Curriculum for Life” lessons as part of their timetable and activities they complete during form time. This reflects our determination to develop the “whole child” who is successful and has the gospel values underpinning their lives.