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Curriculum Overview

Our Curriculum Rationale

‘I came that you may have life in abundance’ John 10:10

The curriculum is central to the formation of our pupils, providing the foundation for academic, spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Based on our core values of Respect & Compassion, Confidence & Resilience, Honesty & Responsibility and Gratitude & Willingness the curriculum enables our pupils to become fully alive, developing their God-given gifts and talents. As a Catholic School, we exist to serve the children of our local community especially those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. Education is the greatest tool for ensuring social justice, opening opportunities for our pupils and broadening their horizons. We are ambitious for our pupils and want the best for them. This means enabling our pupils to achieve a broad range of strong qualifications and engender a love of learning, giving our pupils the powerful knowledge and experiences that will enable them to contribute positively to society, lead happy, fulfilled lives making manifest the Glory of God which lies in every child and helping them to be the person God is calling them to be.

In order for all pupils to achieve their full potential, we will enrich their learning by providing quality teaching which is shaped by:

  • High expectations
  • Strong pupil-teacher relationships
  • Providing a coherently planned and sequenced curriculum building knowledge and skills.
  • Evidence-based pedagogy
  • High-quality subject expertise

Our Curriculum Intent

Our Curriculum is shaped by the backgrounds of our pupils, designed to develop the powerful knowledge, skills and experiences required to be informed and thoughtful members of our community who understand and share in our values and contribute positively to society.  To do this we need to take a holistic view and consider the different needs of our pupils. The long term driver for success is a broad and balanced curriculum that motivates pupils and provides appropriate qualifications that reward pupils for their learning. Our school curriculum aims to reduce barriers to learning where they exist, seeking to close the gaps existing from disadvantage, challenging pupils raising their aspirations, enabling pupils to engage fully with their learning and preparing them for their next steps in education or employment.

Our School Curriculum

All pupils study the following 5 subjects throughout key stage three and four; these are referred to as the core curriculum.

  • Religious Studies
  • Mathematics
  • English Language and Literature
  • Science: Biology Chemistry and Physics.
  • Physical Education


Religious Studies: As a Catholic community Religious Studies is at the core of our school curriculum, not only is the subject very successful academically, it provides important moral and spiritual education which is vital to the formation of every child and adult.  Religious Studies develops a deeper understanding of the world in which we live, our interconnectedness as human beings and our relationship with God. At Our Lady and St. Bede, we believe Religious Studies provides an understanding and perspective that is central to the long term success of our pupils.

English & Maths: High levels of literacy and numeracy are crucial to future success, health, and opportunities of pupils whether they go straight into the world of work, apply to college or for an apprenticeship. As such pupils study English Language, English Literature and Mathematics as part of the core curriculum. Developing a love of reading is central to our whole school curriculum, pupils are expected to have a reading book and all subjects dedicate time to reading both subjects specific material and incorporate time for reading for pleasure.

Science: An understanding of science is essential to all pupils to help make sense of the world around them and develop real curiosity, creativity and problem-solving skills. Qualifications in STEM subjects provide the skills to drive the growth in our national economy and open the doors to many exciting careers for our pupils. All pupils study all three sciences at key stage three and four and will study towards GCSE’s in either Combined Science or the Separate Sciences.

Physical Education: Physical Education is essential to a pupil's health and wellbeing. All pupils participate in core PE  but this is not an examined subject. If pupils would like to attain a qualification in PE then they can opt to study BTEC Sport or GCSE PE at key stage 4.

The core curriculum at key stage three is complemented by a range of academic subjects which broaden our pupils' horizons and expertise in Art, Music, Drama, Design Technology, French or Spanish, Geography, History and Computing.

The English Baccalaureate and Optional Curriculum at Key Stage 4

The EBacc is made up of subjects that are considered essential to many degrees and the needs of business and the UK economy. These subjects are English Language, Mathematics, Science including Computer Science, History, Geography and a Foreign Modern or Ancient Language; and are considered enabling subjects which significantly increase the life chances of pupils who study them. Research shows that a pupil's socio-economic background impacts the subjects they choose at GCSE and that this determines their opportunities beyond school. A study by the University College London Institute of Education shows that the EBacc provides pupils with greater opportunities in further education and increases the likelihood that a pupil will stay on in full-time education. The Sutton Trust research reveals that studying the EBacc improves a young person's performance in English and Mathematics.

The government’s aim is for 75% of pupils to attain the EBacc by 2022, and 90% of pupils by 2025. All schools across the country are working towards meeting these targets. At Our Lady and St. Bede, we strive to ensure that our pupils are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful and to compete effectively for the best opportunities in further education and the labour market. For this reason, all pupils in Upper Band Mathematics and English classes in year nine will go on to study the full English Baccalaureate at key stage four and pupils in the lower band will choose at least one English Baccalaureate subject in addition to the core curriculum and have the option to choose to study the full English Baccalaureate by opting for a Humanity and a Modern Foreign Language.

In addition to the core curriculum pupils in year nine may also choose to study for GCSEs at key stage four in 3 Dimensional Design, Fine Art, Photography, Textiles, Computer Science, Geography, History, Music, Drama and Physical Education.  Qualifications in BTEC sport and Digital Information Technology are available for pupils who thrive on a more vocational approach to their learning. Entry-level qualifications in English and Maths are available for a small number of pupils who struggle to access GCSE and the alternative curriculum provides the opportunity for pupils who need to develop key skills and confidence to attain the ASDA qualification.


The Optional Curriculum

There are two options routes, one for pupils in Upper Band and one for pupils in Lower Band. The band that pupils are in are defined by their English and Maths classes.

Pupils in Upper Band English and Maths must choose one language which should be the language they have studied at key stage three and one humanity: History or Geography. Pupils then have one further open choice for their remaining option.

  A: Choose One Language B: Choose One Humanity C: Choose One Subct
Upper Band

English and Maths

Sets 1-4

·         French

·         Spanish

·        History

·         Geography


·         3D Design

·         Computer Science

·         Drama

·         Fine Art

·         Geography

·         History

Health & Social Care

·         Music

·         Photography

·         Separate Science

·         Sport (GCSE or BTEC)

·         Textiles


Pupils in Lower Band English and Maths make one choice from each column though all pupils must choose at least one ‘English Baccalaureate’ subject. The subjects for the English Baccalaureate are:

History, Geography, French, Spanish

A.      Choose one Subject B.      Choose Two Subjects

Lower Band English & Maths

Sets 5-8





3D Design

Fine Art

Computer Science

BTEC Digital Information Technology





Health & Social Care (Cambridge National)




GCSE or Cambridge National


3D Design, Fine Art and Textiles are part of the same suite of Art and Design qualifications and discount against each other. This means that if a pupil was to study two or more of these subjects only one grade would count. For this reason, we ask that pupils choose only one of these subjects. 

BTEC Digital Information Technology and Computer Science are also discounting qualifications and pupils may choose to study either one or the other but not both qualifications. To find out more about our computing qualifications please see the subject pages later in this booklet.


GCSE, BTEC & Cambridge National Qualifications

GCSE qualifications are academic qualifications that are examined externally. We currently offer one BTEC qualification in Digital Information Technology and two Cambridge National Qualifications in Sport and Health & Social Care which are vocational qualifications. Vocational qualifications provide a better understanding of how the subject applies in the workplace. BTEC qualifications are composed predominantly of internally assessed portfolio work with a smaller externally examined component typically accounting for 25% of the qualification. Where BTEC options are available it is important to discuss with your subject teacher which route would be best for you.

When choosing a qualification in Sport both GCSE PE and BTEC sport are in the same option block which means the classes are on at the same time. To choose either course pupils to opt for Sport and the PE department will direct pupils to the most appropriate programme.