Our Curriculum

Last Updated: 14/10/2019

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, but we allow as much student choice as possible.

Our curriculum is currently under review. We want to make sure that we continue to meet the needs of all our learners in a fast-changing world. We are reviewing what is taught in the classroom, and what we do outside the classroom to prepare our young people to succeed in school and in their life beyond.

Once the review is complete we will publish details here of our curriculum.

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

  • Promote a growth mindset approach to learning

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

Contact Information

If you would like to obtain additional information relating to the curriculum, please contact Mr D Sinnett, Deputy Headteacher via admin@stmarysmenston.org

Key Stage 3 (Years 7 and 8)

Year 7: Number of hourly lessons per two week cycle

Y7EnglishMathematicsSciencePhysical EducationReligious EducationPSHEArtDesign and TechnologyDramaFrenchGeographyHistory56631722533Computer ScienceMusic223

YEAR 8: Number of hourly lessons per two week cycle

Y8EnglishMathematicsSciencePhysical EducationReligious EducationPSHEArtDesign and TechnologyDramaFrenchGeographyHistory57631622533Computer ScienceMusicGerman (introduced)Spanish (introduced)22322

The curriculum in Years 7 and 8 is designed to interest and motivate pupils in a broad range of subjects. It builds on what has been achieved at primary school, while laying the foundations for GCSE study when options are chosen at the end of year 8.

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

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 pupils to make rapid progress from their individual starting points.

All pupils in year 7 learn French. In Year 8 most pupils continue with French, while German or Spanish are 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.

All pupils are given a 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

St. Mary’s Diploma

This year we have introduced the St. Mary’s Diploma in Year 7. The first year of a new school is the beginning of a journey, and resembles the first steps of a pilgrimage, following the example of Our Lady, Mary, our school’s patron.

The aim of the diploma is to recognise the steps on that journey towards developing a virtuous character, and a deepening understanding of our catholic faith and its call to serve. The diploma rewards the completion of a wide range of learner tasks, that take place in the classroom, and leader tasks that take place outside. In total, 40 tasks need to be completed, after which students can challenge themselves with Gold standard tasks.

Our Year 12 students support Year 7 pupils and their form tutors by helping and guiding them. We celebrate the successes of the year in the Diploma Celebration Evening in July.

Key Stage 4 (Years 9, 10 and 11)

Our students follow a three year programme of study for the GCSE and technical qualifications taken at the end of year 11.

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-week cycle.

Most students follow the EBacc pathway, which features a modern foreign language and a humanities subject alongside two further optional subjects.  Our Mastery pathway focuses on promoting mastery of literacy and numeracy, alongside three optional subjects.  For a small number of students with particular learning needs the Bespoke pathway offers an individual combination of optional subjects and Hub support.

Y9EnglishMathematicsSciencePhysical EducationReligious EducationPSHEOption Block AOption Block BOption Block COption Block D569365555

A broad curriculum is maintained by offering students four optional subjects in addition to the core. In year 9 these optional subjects have five lessons per fortnight to allow them to be studied in as much depth as possible. Science has nine hours to enable the three science subjects to be studied in detail. Our aim is to focus on the key knowledge and skills that will form a solid foundation for year 10 and 11. Target setting is based on GCSE grades, and major pieces of work will increasingly be assessed using GCSE criteria.

YearS 10 and 11: Number of hourly lessons per two week cycle

Y10 and Y11EnglishMathematicsSciencePhysical EducationReligious EducationPSHE (included in RE)Option Block AOption Block BOption Block COption Block D589394444

In year 10 and 11, English increases to nine and maths increases to eight lessons per fortnight. This is to reflect the importance of literacy and numeracy, the challenge of new linear GCSEs and the good pass measure of grade 5.

As well as the Bespoke pathway, we provide alternative education for a small number of students for whom the traditional offer may not be appropriate.  This could be college courses 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 9 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

Post 16 (Sixth Form – Years 12 and 13)

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 on preparing our students to take their next steps, 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

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.



Our curriculum meets our students’ needs. Over 60% of our Year 11 students moved into our Sixth Form in 2019. Of the rest, students move into FE, Apprenticeships and employment. We are proud of our extremely low numbers of NEETs.

At the end of Year 13, most students go to university with 68% moving onto Higher Education courses (2019). This year (2019) has also seen 19% of students moving into employment and higher apprenticeships at the end of Year 13.

For further details about destinations of our Year 13 students please visit the Progress and Destinations page on our website

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 October 2018 (PDF)