Our Curriculum

Last Updated: 04/08/2018

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
  • 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

YEAR 8: Number of hourly lessons per two week cycle

The curriculum in Years 7 and 8 is designed to interest and motivate pupils in a broad range of subjects.  It buildings 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 form groups.  English and Mathematics are set on each side of the year, with five groups on the north and four on the south side, to allow 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 students are given an individual flightpath towards a GCSE target grade.  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

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 pupils with particular learning needs the Bespoke pathway offers an individual combination of optional subjects and Hub support.


Year 10: Number of hourly lessons per two week cycle

In the compulsory core in Years 9 and 10, English now has 8 lessons per fortnight and Science 9 to prepare for 2 or 3 GCSEs, while Religious Education now has 5 hours.

Optional subjects, which can be chosen from 4 option blocks, have either 4 hours per fortnight in Year 9 and 5 in Year 10, or vice versa.

The aim of the curriculum in Year 9 is to provide the students with the skills they require to make rapid progress in Years 10 and 11, while promoting independent learning.  Target setting is based on GCSE grades, and major pieces of work are assessed on the 9-1 GCSE scale. 

Year 11: Number of hourly lessons per two week cycle

In year 11, English increases to 9 lessons per fortnight, and Mathematics to 8, to reflect the importance of literacy and numeracy, the challenge of new linear GCSEs and the new 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

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

Our post 16 curriculum is based on academic Level 3 course, mainly A levels but with a number of Applied General and Tech Level options as well.  Based on an entry requirement of 5 GCSEs at grade 4 or above, our Pathways to Success 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.

Most students choose three options, although for some pathways more or fewer subjects might be recommended.  In addition to 9 hours teaching per fortnight for each option, our post 16 study programmes include lessons and themed days in Religious Education, time with tutors to focus on study skills, enrichment and post 18 pathway, and the opportunity to undertake a work experience placement.  English and maths tuition is provided for those students who need to re-sit GCSE, while the extended project qualification (EPQ) is 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. 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)