Skip to content ↓

Charles Darwin School

Curriculum Aims and Intent

Our key purpose

Charles Darwin School is committed to creating and maintaining a caring community in which students are enabled to confidently meet the challenges of the wider world and where educational excellence is encouraged and fostered purposefully.

Specifically, we will endeavour to:

  1. Enable each student to develop personally, social and intellectually through engaging in a broad range of learning experiences.
  2. Enable all students to make the most of their intellectual ability through the attainment of high academic standards.
  3. Enable students to develop into independent and responsible citizens ready to contribute positively to an ever-changing world.
  4. Provide a secure moral framework where pupils can develop values congruent with civilised society.
  5. Prepare students to play an active part in building a caring community.
  6. Ensure that each student develops a positive sense of self-worth which will contribute to a self-disciplined, determined approach to the pursuit of their goals.

In order to achieve these broad aims, it is our belief, that the curriculum be able to provide all students with the opportunity to learn through engaging in a broad range of academic and practical subjects, in a well determined programme that:

  • Creates an aspirational culture
  • Considers fully individual student needs
  • Allows everyone to experience success
  • Raises overall standards of achievement
  • Fosters the acquisition of good behaviours and attitudes
  • Enables students to live safe and happy lives

At Charles Darwin School we currently operate a curriculum model that incorporates a three year Key stage 4. Pupils make all their option choices at the end of year 8. This way of working has been in place at the school for over 10 years and in that time it has benefited students in many ways.

Benefits of a three year GCSE course include:

  • Additional time to complete course content and explore the subject more fully – not just teaching to examination specification
  • Prepare for exams more thoroughly with time for guided revision.
  • Time for extra-curricular opportunities.
  •  Opportunity to explore higher level content over longer period of time –enabling better student success.
  • Meets the needs of all learners better - more able, SEND.Removes some of the pressure earlier – students feel better prepared when they have studied subjects over a longer period of time.
  • Students stress levels are mitigated and confidence improved – they are calmer and more confident for exams.
  •  Gives us flexibility within the curriculum to run year group activities - such as visiting speakers, workshops, master classes etc… with less impact on other subjects.
  • Gives Year 8 a focus and drive. Stimulates engagement during a year that research has shown to sometimes be problematic. 
  • Pupils to become engaged at earlier stage on reflections about their strengths, interests and aspirations.

There are disadvantages of a three year KS4, these include.

  • Narrowing of the curriculum at an early stage
  • The risk of skewed choices made by pupils who are a bit immature at the end of year 8 to engage fully in the options process.
  • The need to modify options if the choices are not fully though through.

  Overall our experience is that the advantages of studying some subjects for a year longer in a conventional three year key stage 3; before encountering the options process are significantly outweighed by the advantages offered by a 3 year key stage 4, in terms of student motivation, engagement and eventual achievement, especially if precautions are put in place to ensure broad and balanced options choices.

However, In light of the new Ofsted framework we plan to reconsider our options process to ensure that we are not narrowing the curriculum studied by our students prematurely whilst also mainlining the proven benefits of the three year key stage 4

Key Stage 3 -Years 7 and 8

All pupils start by following a common curriculum of English, Maths, Science, Art, Drama, Foreign Language, Geography, History, Computing (ICT), Music, Physical Education, Religious Education and Design and Technology.

In addition, a very small group of children, who have very low prior attainment and have special learning and literacy needs, are taught for a good proportion of their time in a small group setting (LIP group). Students in this group benefit from additional learning support to assist them with the quicker acquisition of literacy and essential learning skills.  This group do not study a foreign language but instead use this time to focus on improving their literacy. 

For students whose reading age is behind their chronological age additional support is also provided through an intervention programme that includes in class support as well as withdrawal.

Key Stage 4 -Years 9-11

In year 9 students have the opportunity to study subjects that they have chosen to study to GCSE level. The common core curriculum studied by all students includes.

English Language and Literature),

Mathematics,

Physics, Chemistry and Biology or Double science,

Physical Education

RE (in year 9 only)

Students are encouraged to make their GCSE choices from a broad range of subjects. These include GCSE and equivalent and applied vocational subjects

History, Geography, French, German, Computing, Music, Drama, Dance, Art , Film Studies, Media Studies, Sport Studies, GCSE Physical Education Graphic Products, or Btec Sport Business studies, Btec music, Btec ICT and  BTec Art and design.

Obviously, the choices that students make for GCSE study are very important, it is imperative that students study a broad and balanced group of subjects and that they study the EBAC subjects wherever possible. Consequently, we devote time and energy into providing good guidance to all students and their families. In addition to an options evening we schedule personalised meetings for families with tutors for all students undergoing this choice process. The aim being to ensure that students are challenged academically and are motivated by their choices, studying subjects that are likely to ensure long term success.     

Social Disadvantage  

We are fully aware of the impact that social disadvantage can have on the achievement of some students. We therefore intend to undertake the following as far as resources allow.

  1. Ensure that provision for children who enrol with low reading ages is robust, enabling students to make progress with their reading as quickly as possible. We are fully aware that any poor prior reading skill will have an undue impact on children’s overall progress so addressing this through intervention and class focus is important.
  2. We will endeavour to ensure that the LIP group in years 7 and 8 is kept to a small size, thus enabling more targeted 1-1 support for those who need it. 
  3. In core subjects of English and Maths we will endeavour in years 10 and 11 to provide small group support, particularly for those that are from disadvantaged backgrounds to boost their progress.
  4. Where there are financial hindrances to a disadvantaged pupil’s progress, such as no access to ICT, need of books, revision guides etc. we will seek to assist as far is reasonable.
  5. From time to time we will fund out of school broader educational experiences such as university visits, theatre trips, field trips. 
     

Learning Beyond subjects

Enriched Curriculum days and the Tutorial programme.

Enriched learning days, when the normal timetable is suspended, take place several times a year for each year group, these days together with a well-developed tutorial programme are utilised to broaden the student learning experience further; enabling students with the development of key understandings in a whole range of issues. Examples of subject matter covered in this way includes:

  • Staying safe, including online safety and drug and alcohol awareness
  • Developing greater resilience and a Growth Mindset attitude
  • Aspects of key British values
  • Study skills   
  • Healthy living including mental health
  • Bullying
  • British values

Enriched Learning and Tutorial Programme Priorities

Tutorial Themes (Years 7-11) - 2019/20

 

Autumn

1

Autumn

2

Spring

1

Spring

2

Summer

1

Summer

 2

Year 7

Ready to learn introduction

Anti-bulling and accepting others

Growth Mindset – effective learner

Feeling good

Preparing to reach your goals

Motivation and aspirations for the future

Making friends and respecting each other

Year 8

Confidence and self‑esteem

Anti-bullying

Our country’s politics

Aspirations, dreams and careers

Exam preparation and revision

Big questions, reasoning and difference of opinions

Attendance, homework and key to success

E-safety

Growth Mindset

Year 9

Cultural, diversity and tolerance (4 weeks)

The environment

(2 weeks)

The value of making mistakes (growth mindset)

(5 weeks)

Finance

(5 weeks)

E-safety and keeping safe

(2 weeks)

Exa mpreparation and revision

(2 weeks)

The environment

(2 weeks)

Healthy lifestyle – physical and mental health

(4 weeks)

Health relationships

(2 weeks)

The ultimate alphabet

(3 weeks)

Year 10

The Big Debate – debating moral and political issues

Healthy relationships – how to identify them

Compromise, consensus and democracy

Nation building

CV and letter writing – preparing for the world or work

Exam preparation time

Interview preparation

Year 11

Developing your character and skills for success

Post-16 pathways and applications / PPE preparation

Revision techniques, reflection and action planning

Exam preparation / Revision

Exam preparation / Revision

n/a

Year 12 How to be a sixth form student – organisation including effective use of study time and folder The Art of independent learning

Next steps – your future / your career.

Sixth form prefect applications

CV’s Effective revision strategies Summer exams, end of year reflection preparation for work placements, uni open day research
Year 13

Organisation and individual learning recap

Next steps – UCAS / Apprenticeships CV’s

Next steps – UCAS / Apprenticeships CV’s Wellbeing Effective revision strategies End of year exam preparation Summer exams

Extra-curricular programme 

We believe that a strong extra- curricular offer is important to ensure that we provide the full range of opportunities for the self and personal development for our students. An example of the programme on offer is included below.

In addition, we offer the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme at bronze and silver.  We regularly have in excess of 90 participants.

Sex and Relationship Education

Effective Sex and Relationship education is essential if young people are to make responsible and well informed decisions about their lives. The objective at Charles Darwin School is to help and support young people through their physical, emotional and moral development. The programme will be embedded in tutorial sessions, assemblies and visiting speakers led discussions. Our aim is to help young people learn to respect themselves and others and move with confidence from childhood through adolescence into adulthood; becoming fully aware of how to engender good relationships. Our aim is to ensure that pupils are better prepared for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life.

Areas covered include the understanding of the importance of marriage for family life; stable and loving relationships; respectful relationships including friendships; rights, responsibilities and opportunities online. It is also about the teaching of sex, sexuality, and sexual health, recognising the positive aspects of healthy intimate relationships and knowing where to go to for advice and guidance. The Sex and Relationship Education guidance from the DfE will be used to direct the programme from Years 7 – 13. Elements covered will be age appropriate using materials created specifically for young people.

British Values – our intent

At Charles Darwin School we have a duty to ‘actively promote’ the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs through:

  • an understanding of how citizens can influence decision-making through the democratic process
  • an understanding that the freedom to hold other faiths and beliefs is protected in law
  • an acceptance that people having different faiths or beliefs to oneself (or having none) should be accepted and tolerated, and should not be the cause of prejudicial or discriminatory behaviour
  • an understanding of the importance of identifying and combatting discrimination

At Charles Darwin School we are all proud to belong to a community which encompasses both urban and rural catchments. Our work on experiencing social, moral, spiritual and cultural understanding empowers us to develop our students’ understanding and experience of modern British values: what it means to be a British citizen and how we can all promote tolerance, resilience and an understanding of other cultures. Not only are these values of British citizens, but underpin the values of good citizens in school, our local community as well as in our global community. Every Monday year group assemblies are led by the Senior Leadership team promoting a set of calendared themes across the school year, ensuring that each year group have a set of values promoted on a half termly basis. There are planned tutor programmes for each year group, including the 6th form, that set out to promote these values, whilst allowing students the opportunity to discuss and debate with peers and tutors.

Students in year 7-10 take part in planned drop-days to develop their work around Growth Mindset; developing resilience, learning from mistakes and developing skills to prepare for life in our ever-changing modern society. All students in year 7-10 in addition to years 12 and 13 have a ’99 steps to building character and confidence’ passport; Each key stage has a set of differentiated tasks, cultural experiences and challenges to develop strength, resilience, cultural and social understanding. It is the school’s view that developing these strategies will support better learning and produce rounded young adults, ready for the world beyond school.

Through the curriculum, through pastoral experiences during tutor times and assemblies and through extra-curricular work, our pupils gain an understanding of these values through:

Democracy

The curriculum is designed to promote democracy across all subjects, through voting and through teaching the values of democracy in society. All pupils will learn about democracy from a theoretical perspective in History and Citizenship at key stage. This area of humanities is where they consider the advantages and disadvantages of democracy, and how democracy and the law works in Britain, in contrast to other forms of government in other countries. Democracy has roots in specific Geography schemes of work and is debated in English lessons, through the medium of historical and contemporary texts. Pupils also experience how democracy works by actively promoting democratic processes through the election of the head boy and head girl, which involve all pupils, teaching and non-teaching staff, from the hustings and selection through to manifesto and ballot box voting. Pupils elect on a termly basis the student voice representatives who are then also shortlisted to run for school council. Student council and student voice both have decision making meetings across the year group.

The Rule of Law

The curriculum is designed to ensure pupils are taught the values and reasons behind laws, that they govern and protect us, the responsibilities this involves and the consequences when laws are broken. Students learn the value and reasons behind the rules which we abide by in school and also the wider laws that exist within society.  The key stage 3 and 4 curriculum in history plans for ancient and modern legislation. Pupils are rewarded for excellent/model behaviour and are aware of the consequences of not following the rules of the classroom and that of the school, and how they mirror the laws of society. Each year planned assemblies include; The Metropolitan Police; covering key stage 3; Transport for London to assemblies also with years 7-9 to discuss the law and the rules of using public transport. E-safety and the law is covered in all year groups by a lead member of SLT.

Individual Liberty

Pupils are taught that with rights come responsibilities. Pupils are actively encouraged to make independent choices knowing that they are in a safe, secure and supportive environment. The curriculum is designed in a way that promotes debates and discussions within class. This enables learners to make informed choices based on the evaluation of facts. For example, students are taught about the risks of using the internet and how they can keep themselves safe in the ICT curriculum, and through all key stages in E-safety, rights and ethics surrounding scientific discoveries such as evolution, modern genetic engineering and cloning techniques, impact of global warming, slavery, war/conflict and through literature. The English department have particular focus on developing young peoples’ understanding of rights and responsibilities which is reflected in the style of learning and the literature that is used to promote libertarian understanding. The school’s approach to liberty and respecting the right for students to have their own freedoms, without the disrespect of others, is seen through planned tutor programmes and in the conduct of students and staff in classrooms.

Respect and Tolerance

Respect and tolerance are promoted in all subject areas and through the pastoral system, as well as in classrooms. Every learner has a right to be listened to and respected. Pupils learn about the consequences of a lack of tolerance and respect, which is promoted through the pastoral system as well as in class through the behavioural routines that allow students to listen to and contribute to class discussions. The plan of assemblies across the year focuses on developing an understanding of cultures and cultural identity and that other people might have different values and beliefs to the pupils’ own. Staff use appropriate opportunities in lessons and through the pastoral programme to allow pupils to experience other cultures and the viewpoints of those cultures. There are opportunities to develop cultural through extra-curricular visits and trips. Parents speak highly of the way in which the school fosters the development of pupils’ understanding of respect and tolerance, particularly in recent years. In RE, students investigate how the church fits into the 21st Century and in year 10, there is a unit focused on marriage and the family with a subsequent unit focused on Community Cohesion – dealing with racial intolerance, extremism and hatred in addition to focus on community values. Teaching pupils to respect other faiths and beliefs is not limited to RE as students do not study this in upper key stage 4.

British values and SMSC are embedded throughout a broad and balanced curriculum, as well as in the school’s ethos and vision.

Organisation of our timetable and teaching.

The school currently operates on a 2 week timetable 50 x 1 hour lessons. Lesson allocations are as follows:

 

Y7

Y8

Y9

Y10

Y11

English

7

7

9

10

9

Maths

7

7

8

8

8

Science

7

6

9

9

10

PE

3

3

3

3

3

PSHE

 

1

 

 

 

RE

1

1

1

 

 

Art

2

2

 

 

 

Drama

2

2

 

 

 

Geography

5

5

 

 

 

History

5

5

 

 

 

IT

1

1

 

 

 

MFL

5

5

 

 

 

Music

2

2

 

 

 

Technology

3

3

 

 

 

Option

 

 

5

5

5

Option

 

 

5

5

5

Option

 

 

5

5

5

Option

 

 

5

5

5

 

50

50

50

50

50

Post 16

Option A

Option B

Option C

Option D

Art

Photography

Photography

Textiles

Sports BTEC

Sports BTEC Core

Sports BTEC

English Literature

Maths

Health & Social Care

Digital Media

Chemistry

PE

Physics

Biology

Business Studies

Music

French

Maths

History

Business Studies

Dance

Computer Science

Core Maths

Sociology

Politics

Drama

Music Technology

Finance

Geography

History

Sociology

Film Studies

Finance

Finance

Medical Science

Psychology

English Literature

IT

Further Maths

 

German

English Re sit

Maths Re sit

       

10 x1 hour lesson per option

     

Groupings

In Y7 there is grouping by ability in a range of subjects (English, Science, MFL, History, Geography). In the main this is by the identification of two “top sets” on each side of the year group. This is supported by a Literacy Improvement Group – a smaller teaching group, taught by a fewer number of teachers and aimed at supporting those students with low reading ages and other potential barriers to learning. All other subjects are taught in mixed ability groups. Maths is taught in ability groupings in Y7 and in Y8. In Y7 and Y8 a greater proportion of curriculum time is given to those subjects that make up the EBACC set of qualifications

This grouping arrangement is extended and refined in Y8 with more grouping by ability joining Maths, including MFL and Science.

In KS4 Maths, Science and MFL are taught in groups set by ability and where possible this is extended to other option subjects.