At Bishop Challoner Catholic Secondary School our curriculum is designed so that the learning pathway of all students is broad, balanced, and appropriate. The curriculum has been reviewed in the light of the new National Curriculum introduced in 2014 and we have subsequently developed our ‘Learning Ladders’ across Y7-9 to tie in with the knowledge, skills and understanding that we think students need to be successful at GCSE Level. As such, we do not think in terms of Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 anymore but rather in terms of a 5-year curriculum pathway.
On joining Bishop Challoner in Year 7 every student experiences a variety of learning styles, techniques and curriculum areas. We strongly believe that it is crucial that students develop as ‘rounded individuals’ who encounter a range of extra-curricular learning experiences that allow them to take their place in the world as confident, caring individuals. As our mission statement says, we believe that in ‘doing ordinary things, extraordinarily well’ our learning community grows and that all can flourish using their ‘God-given talents’ to serve God and others.
The school operates Monday to Friday on a 35 period timetable, each period being 45 minutes long, with the exception of P7 (PM registration) which is 35 minutes in length. The hours spent on teaching during a normal school week, excluding collective worship, registrations and lunch, total 25 hours per week. This compares with the recommended minimum of 24 hours/week, suggested by the Department for Education.
In Years 7-9 all students study RE, English, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, Art, Drama, Food Technology, French or Spanish, Computing, Music, PE and Technology.
In Mathematics, students are placed into ability groups during the first half term in Year 7, which continues throughout years 7 to 11, with movement occurring as is appropriate. For other subjects classes are mixed, with students invariably taught in tutor groups in their younger years. Our belief is that all students can make excellent progress regardless of their prior attainment or any additional learning needs. We carefully monitor the composition of our teaching groups and adjust accordingly, sometimes on pastoral grounds, on other occasions to suit the learner’s needs academically or socially.
As students move into Year 10 they are given the opportunity to follow certain subjects. All students follow a core curriculum of RE, English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and Physics (some will then follow the Combined Science pathway instead, usually decided in Y11), History or Geography.
Students who opt for a Modern Foreign Language are eligible for the English Baccalaureate (EBacc). Those who, under guidance, choose not to follow a Language after Year 9, will follow a BTEC Level 1 or 2 First award in either Travel and Tourism, ICT and Creative Technology, Art and Design or Sport. In some cases, there are catch-up English and Maths classes to support progress, as well as study skills opportunities, sometimes leading to the Certificate of Personal Effectiveness (CoPE in Y11 ONLY for 2017-18) and small group or 1;1 over-learning, literacy and numeracy sessions.
The remaining GCSE subjects that students can choose to study are Art, Drama, Food Preparation and Nutrition, Design and Technology, Computing, Music and PE.
A range of intervention strategies are deployed in the school which include supporting students with additional needs, including those deemed as more able. Additional support is provided across subject areas and via our Teaching Partners (LSAs) who support with the normal additional needs requirements, as well as offering specialist support for Speech and Language, Behaviour and Cognition.
If, at any stage, pupils are identified as having an extra educational need, we endeavour to provide it. This applies as much to extending the more able student as to providing necessary support for those with specific learning difficulties.
A policy for those with additional educational needs is available on request from school. As part of the School’s Teaching & Learning Policy teachers are encouraged to use a wide range of teaching strategies to suit the learning styles of individual pupils.
At Bishop Challoner, there has been a renewed focus on assessment and feedback to streamline and aim for a more consistent approach. We have developed our ‘Learning Ladders’ to provide a transition from the lower school to GCSE, in a world of ‘life after levels’. Our protocols for assessment and marking of extended writing are displayed in every classroom and shared with students and parents. At all times the focus is on supporting students to make the next steps to improve their learning and this is done in a range of ways, both formally and informally, with progress being recorded on SiSRA and shared with parents at every data collection (4 times a year) and via parents’ evenings and a written report. The data collections inform our practice and allow us to identify subsequent intervention and support work for both students and staff.