Our Curriculum

“Our curriculum is focussed upon opportunity and achievement for all. We aim to develop the whole child. In all key stages the core is central but we facilitate student choice wherever possible. The teachings of Christ underpin everything we do.”

The school specifically aims to:

  • Teach the beliefs, doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church
  • Encourage 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 high standards of work, smart appearance and awareness of a
  • healthy lifestyle
  • Develop an effective and imaginative use of language
  • Provide mathematical, scientific and technical knowledge and skills
  • Teach how present-day society evolved, how the nation achieves its standard of living and the ways in which nations depend upon each other, including British values.
  • Teach about human achievement and encourage aesthetic and environmental awareness
  • 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. As prescribed by the National Curriculum, the work of St. Mary’s follows two Key Stages up to the age of 16.

Contact Information

If you would like to obtain additional information relating to the curriculum, please contact us

Key Stage 3 (Years 7 and 8)

Years 7 and 8: Number of hourly lessons per two week cycle

English Mathematics Science Physical Education Religious Education Tutorial Art Design and Technology Drama French Geography History 4 6 6 4 1 6 2 2 5 3 3 Information Technology Music 2 2 4

The curriculum is planned to interest and motivate pupils in a broad range of subjects while preparing for continued study in GCSE and vocational courses at the end of Year 8. 

There are seven forms in each year. Four in north side and three in south side. In both Years 7 and 8, the three south side forms are split into four classes for English, Maths and PE. This improved pupil/teacher ratio allows targeted intervention to take place.

In Year 8 Maths is set across the year group and some students are withdrawn from languages for additional literacy support. In Year 7 all students study French and German is introduced for some in Year 8. Students follow a rotation in Technology.

All students have individualised performance targets which are used to monitor progress and identify intervention need. As a result, students who have struggled in primary and lower school have personalised learning intervention which can entail:

  • Targeted, one to one and small group literacy and numeracy support via Teaching Assistants and additional literacy in Year 8
  • Reads United
  • Nurture support and guidance from our SEN department
  • Off site alternative provision
  • Personalised timetables
  • Transition project in Year 7
  • Support through form groups
  • Pastoral Intervention/Counselling
  • Staff timetable for catch up in English and Maths (Year 7)

Key Stage 4 (Years 9, 10 and 11)

Years 9 and 10: Number of hourly lessons per two week cycle

English Mathematics Science Physical Education Religious Education Tutorial (included in RE) Option Block A Option Block B Option Block C Option Block D 5 6 9 4 8 5 4 4 5

Students make choices at the start of Year 9. We are currently in a transition phase having reduced the number of option blocks from five to four this year. This is to take into account the BTEC equivalence and introduction of linear GCSEs.

Students continue to follow a compulsory core. English now has 8 lessons per two week cycle and Religious Education 5. Students are encouraged to choose one language and one humanity subject where this is considered appropriate. However, a personalised learning pathway is considered for all students.

Target setting is now based on GCSE grades.

The aim of the curriculum in Year 9 is to provide the students with the skills they require to enhance their opportunities and performance during Years 10 and 11, while promoting independent learning.

The subject information for 2017–20 is available below:


Key Stage 4 Subject Information 2017–20 (PDF)

Courses provided at Key Stage 4 (leading to a GCSE qualification)

  • Art and Design
  • Food Technology
  • Product Design
  • Textile Technology
  • Drama
  • English
  • English Literature
  • Geography
  • Mathematics
  • Health and Social Care
  • History
  • French
  • German
  • Music
  • Physical Education
  • Religious Studies
  • Science

Courses provided at Key Stage 4 (leading to other qualifications)

  • Creative Media Production         BTEC First Diploma
  • ICT                                                OCR National Certificate
  • Performing Arts (Performance)   BTEC First Diploma
  • Sport                                             OCR Sport Certificate
  • Travel and Tourism                      BTEC First Diploma
  • Youth Award       

Year 11: Number of hourly lessons per two week cyclE

English Mathematics Science Physical Education Religious Education Tutorial (included in RE) Option Block A Option Block B Option Block C Option Block D 5 6 9 3 7 4 4 4 Option Block E 4 4

Year 10 and 11 are organised so no student is channelled into option choices. By not using pathways ALL students can access ALL areas of the options ensuring a broad and balanced choice based on student voice. We do not force students to take English Baccalaureate subjects (other than compulsory subjects). However, 49% of Year 11 students achieved EBACC in 2014.

We provide alternative education for a small number of students for whom the traditional offer may not be appropriate such as college courses beginning in Year 10, with tailored provision and one to one support to ensure they succeed in the core literacy and numeracy skills (either GCSE, alternative level 2, level 1 functional skills).

Support at KS4 is tailored to need. All subjects provide I (in class) and 2 (department based) intervention. Wave 3 (out of class and department) for KS4 includes:

  • Opportunities to study one less optional subject to work in other areas
  • Assertive Mentoring
  • Controlled Assessment Catchup
  • Post 16 subject mentoring
  • Collapsed timetable preparation
  • Trial examinations

Our curriculum is broad and balanced with six BTEC options alongside the traditional GCSE courses available. Applied History has also been offered in Year 9 since September 2013.

Sixth Form - Key Stage 5 (Years 12 and 13)

The Sixth Form have five options of 9 hours each. Admission to the Sixth Form is based on an entry requirement of 5 A*–C including English and Maths, although we are flexible in exceptional circumstances. Selective entry for General Studies is made based on individual requirements. A tutorial programme is also delivered. All students follow a programme in General RE in Year 12 and this is delivered via dropdown days in Year 13.

Targets are set based on prior attainment but students get to allocate and raise them according to your need. Intervention is all wave 1 and 2 department based unless their attitude to learning is a concern when an individual programme is designed incorporating:

  • Subject tutoring/tutorials
  • Study period embargo
  • Supervised study
  • AFL tailored revision programmes
  • Trial examination

At Key Stage 5 the curriculum is based on A-levels and is designed to allow Sixth Form students to gain the qualifications required to secure a place at university or to embark on a career.  
In Year 12 students take four AS levels, with most students continuing with three subjects at A2.  Each AS or A2 subject has a time allocation of 9 one-hour lessons per 10 day cycle. In addition students follow courses in General Studies and RE.



Our curriculum meets our students’ needs. 68% of our Year 11 students moved into our Sixth Form in 2017. Of the rest, students move into FE, Apprenticeships and employment. We have 8 students from other schools currently in Year 13 and 16 students in Year 12.

We are proud of our extremely low numbers of NEETs. At the end of Year 13, most students go to university with 77% moving onto Higher Education courses (2017). This year (2017) has also seen 12% of students moving into employment and higher apprenticeships at the end of Year 13.

Progress and Assessment

For full details of progress and assessment at St. Mary's, including Subject Progress Plans, please visit the progress and assessment section of our website.

Curriculum Statement

 Curriculum Statement (PDF)