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St. Mary's Menston

Curriculum Intent

We are a pilgrim school and we journey with Mary to become the person God intends us to be.


The curriculum is central to our mission as a school to develop virtuous young people who are able to grow and flourish, and fulfil their God-given potential.  The teachings of Christ underpin everything we do. Our curriculum encompasses opportunities within and beyond the classroom, and promotes achievement for all.  Core subjects are central to Years 7 to 11, and our pathways programmes in Year 9 and at Post-16 allow as much individual choice as possible.


Our Core Purpose

St Mary’s aims to:

  • develop virtuous character so we become the person God intends us to be
  • be inspired by our patron, and form group saints
  • teach the beliefs, doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church
  • instil respect for moral values and tolerance of other religions, races and cultures
  • give the satisfaction of achievement to all pupils and develop a sense of vocation
  • encourage good habits of work, appearance and healthy living
  • promote an understanding of our place in society and the importance of our contribution to the common good

Our curriculum further aims to:

  • promote oracy, numeracy and literacy
  • develop an effective and imaginative use of language
  • provide mathematical, scientific and technical knowledge and skills
  • teach about human achievement and encourage aesthetic and environmental awareness
  • teach how present-day society evolved, including British values, and understand what it means to be a global citizen
  • encourage open-mindedness and rational discussion
  • provide opportunities in the creative arts
  • develop independent learning and study skills

Our curriculum builds on the skills and knowledge taught by our partner primary schools.


The Curriculum Journey

Each year through school has a specific focus or theme. The focus is reflected in the key events and opportunities that are planned during each key stage, and also in the personal and social development time (PDT) that is set aside every fortnight


Year group Theme
Year 7 Belonging Students are welcomed into the St Mary’s school community
Year 8 Responsibility Students begin to consider their role in the wider world
Year 9 Choices  Students make decisions about which path they wish to follow when they take their GCSE options,  in preparation for the following year.
Year 10 Challenges Students are working towards an aspirational long-term goal and so focus on challenges
Year 11 Discernment This a time for students to realise the potential that has been nurtured in the previous years, and also to think and reflect carefully on next steps in the future, and on becoming the person God intends them to be.

 Key Stage 3 (Years 7 - 9 ) Curriculum Structure and Detail

Key Stage 3 (KS3) is an important part of a child’s learning journey. Learning from Year 7 will be engaging and challenging, as they make the transition into our secondary school and engage with subjects and acquire knowledge they may not have experienced before. The KS3 curriculum is designed with progression at its centre, aiming to ensure that learning from KS2 is sequenced effectively and appropriately for our students. There is support in place for learners at all stages ensuring that all students can access the curriculum whatever their starting point.


There are seven forms in each year: four in north side and three in south side. In Year 7 and Year 8, most subjects are taught in mixed ability form groups. 

Maths:   Maths is set on each side of the year in Year 7 with five groups on the north and four on the south side. This allows students to make rapid progress from their individual starting points.

MFL:   Students in Year 7 learn French. In Year 8 most students continue with French, while German is taught as a second modern foreign language to about two thirds of the year group.  A small number of students are offered literacy support instead.

GCSE Target Grades:  All students are given an aspirational GCSE target grade on the basis of their prior attainment and baseline testing. Progress towards this target is tracked, and interventions identified. 

Possible interventions to support learning include: 

  • Targeted one-to-one and small group literacy and numeracy support with teaching assistants
  • Reads United – our paired reading mentor scheme
  • Nurture support and guidance from The Hub
  • Off-site alternative provision
  • Personalised timetables
  • Pastoral support through form groups
  • Pastoral intervention/counselling

Year 7: Number of hourly lessons per two week cycle

  • English - 7 hours
  • RE - 5 hours 
  • Maths - 6 hours 
  • Humanities (Geography/History) - 6 hours 
  • Science - 6 hours
  • Technology (Product Design, Textiles and Food) - 4 hours 
  • Music, Art, Drama - 2 hours
  • PE - 3 hours
  • French - 5 hours 
  • Computer Science - 2 hours
  • Personal Development Time (PDT) - 1 hour 


Year 8: Number of hourly lessons per two week cycle

  • English - 6 hours
  • RE - 5 hours 
  • Maths - 7 hours 
  • Humanities (Geography/History) - 3 hours 
  • Science - 6 hours
  • Technology (Product Design, Textiles and Food) - 4 hours 
  • Music, Art, Drama - 2 hours
  • PE - 3 hours
  • MFL - 5 hours 
  • Computer Science - 2 hours
  • Personal Development Time (PDT) - 1 hour 

Year 9 Number of hourly lessons per two week cycle

  • English - 6 hours
  • RE - 5 hours 
  • Maths - 6 hours 
  • Humanities (Geography/History) - 3 hours 
  • Science - 9 hours
  • Technology (Product Design, Textiles and Food) - 3 hours 
  • Music, Art, Drama - 2 hours
  • PE - 3 hours
  • MFL - 4 hours 
  • Computer Science - 2 hours
  • Personal Development Time (PDT) - 1 hour 


The curriculum at Key Stage three is supported by the Bishop Wheeler Baccalaureate. Further information on this can be found here.


Key Stage 4 (Years 10 - 11) Curriculum Structure and Detail


From 2024 students, will follow a two-year programme of study for the GCSE and technical qualifications taken at the end of Year 11.  A broad curriculum is maintained by offering students four optional subjects in addition to the core.

We offer three pathways, all of which feature a compulsory core of English, mathematics, religious education and science. All students also have 3 hours of Physical Education in the two-weekly cycle and 1 hour of personal development time.


EBACC Pathway:  Most students follow the EBacc pathway, which features a modern foreign language and a humanities subject alongside two further optional subjects.


Mastery Pathway:  Our Mastery pathway focuses on promoting mastery of literacy and numeracy, alongside three optional subjects


Bespoke Pathway:  For a small number of students with particular learning needs, the Bespoke Pathway offers an individual combination of optional subjects and Hub support.


Years 10: Number of hourly lessons per two week cycle

  • RE - 5 hours
  • English - 7 hours
  • Maths - 6 hours
  • Science - 9 hours
  • PE - 2 hours
  • PDT - 1 hour
  • Option Subject - 5 hours (4 chosen)


Years 11: Number of hourly lessons per two week cycle

  • RE - 5 hours
  • English - 9 hours
  • Maths - 8 hours
  • Science - 9 hours
  • PE - 3 hours
  • PDT - 1 hour
  • Option Subject - 4 hours (4 chosen)


Alternative Education:  As well as the Bespoke Pathway, we provide alternative education for a small number of students for whom the traditional offer may not meet their need.  This could be a college course beginning in Year 10, tailored provision or one-to-one support.  The aim is to ensure success in the core literacy and numeracy skills.

Support is tailored to need.  In addition to high-quality, inclusive teaching, further interventions from Year 10 through to Year 11 include:

  • Subject-based drop-in sessions
  • Individual support from the Hub
  • Pastoral and learning mentor support
  • Assertive mentoring
  • Opportunities to withdraw from some options to focus on core subjects



Sixth Form Curriculum Structure and Detail


Our Post-16 curriculum in the sixth form is based on level 3 courses, mainly A-level with a number of Applied General courses. Based on an entry requirement of 5 GCSEs at grade 4 or above, our Pathways to Success options programme include a number of routes for students to achieve, whatever their GCSE profile. 





The focus is to prepare our students for their next step, in education, employment, apprenticeships or training at age 18.

Each student is enrolled on a 16-19 study programme which is made up of the following elements:

  • the core aim:  most students choose three options (although for some pathways more or fewer subjects might be recommended) with 9 hours teaching per fortnight for each subject
  • English and maths tuition if a student has not achieved a grade 4 at GCSE
  • the opportunity to undertake a work experience placement
  • non-qualification activity to develop students’ character; this includes lessons and themed days in religious education, time with tutors to focus on study skills and post 18 pathway, and a wide range of enrichment opportunities
  • Personal Development Time (PDT)
  • a Health and Wellbeing Programme

The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), worth half an A-level, is also available as an option. 

We set challenging targets based on prior attainment at GCSE, and provide a range of different interventions and support for students who are not on track, including mentoring, subject tutorials and supervised study.

Further information on available courses and sixth form can be found in the sixth form section of the website here.



Our curriculum meets our students’ needs. Students progress into our Sixth Form, move into FE and Apprenticeships. We are proud of our extremely low numbers of NEETs. 

At the end of Year 13, most students go to university. This year (2023) has also seen 30 students moving into employment and higher apprenticeships at the end of Year 13.  

Further information on our destinations can be found in the Exam Results and Destinations pages here.  


Further Information

Contact Information

If you would like to obtain additional information relating to the Sixth Form curriculum, please contact Mrs Alison North, via admin@stmarysmenston.org


Curriculum Statement Document - this is available in the Statutory policies and information section of the site here.