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Charles Darwin School

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Organisation of our Timetable & Teaching

Organisation of our timetable and teaching

The school currently operates a 1 week timetable of 30 periods of 50 minutes. A significant proportion of these are delivered as “double “or 100 minute lessons.  The reasons for this are as follows:

  • It allows for students to focus on fewer subjects each day - they may for example have 3 double periods.
  • This allows for greater immersion into each subject as opposed to switching frequently throughout the day- we believe that this can help to consolidate learning.
  • It allows for teachers to more easily plan for students to develop their ideas and understanding through a range of activities, thus supporting different learning styles e.g pair work to group work to whole class discussion and time through targeted questioning to pick up on misconceptions.
  • The longer lessons are especially beneficial at A level for example in being able to explore complex ideas or skills without the “ rush “ of shorter lessons – it can allow for a more secure level understanding.
  • Allows for teachers to plan for a more detailed focus on key concepts, ideas and skills.  We encourage lessons to be broken down into smaller “chunks” or episodes with mini plenaries used to check understanding before more complex work is begun.
  • It creates the room for focussed writing time – where students are encouraged,  at least for part of the lesson, to be writing for a set period of time – this may include planning and drafting work  or there might be time set aside for Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time ( DIRT) where students re draft part of their answers in response to teacher feedback.


In Y7 there is grouping by ability in a range of subjects (English, Science, MFL, History and 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, English, Science, History and Geography.

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