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The curriculum has always been at the heart of the education we offer at Bartholomew School. Our students experience an exciting and varied, knowledge-rich curriculum, which is a carefully curated mix of academic rigour and wider learning experiences. It is the careful balance of breadth and depth that ensures that our curriculum is central to our mission of preparing students for a bright, exciting and happy future.
Our curriculum is very carefully planned and constructed, with Subject Leaders and their teams given time and autonomy to construct ambitious and challenging curricula. Careful, intentional sequencing builds knowledge and skills and ensures misconceptions are addressed. Well planned and consistently delivered assessments provide a framework that helps to ensure that knowledge is securely learned.
Subject teams have reviewed the effects on learning caused by the pandemic and are continually shaping their schemes of work or methods of teaching to address any issues that arise. This is also supported by a range of whole school strategies, including additional booster sessions at KS4 and use of National Tutoring Programme funding to support literacy and numeracy at KS3. High quality careers education, information, advice and guidance is built into each Key Stage to support students with their next steps.
For further detail about our curriculum please select from the list below:
Key Stage 3 Curriculum
Our KS3 curriculum is broad and ambitious giving students a wide-ranging experience for all of their first three years at Bartholomew. The curriculum is knowledge-rich from the start and broad throughout the key stage incorporating Computer Science, the full range of Technology subjects, multiple Languages, Drama, Music and PSHE. All aspects of the National Curriculum are covered by the end of Year 9. In Year 9, our students are supported to engage in selecting their subject areas for further study at GCSE. This process is carefully managed by providing tailored guidance to all students to enable them to make the right decisions for them.
Key Stage 4 Curriculum
Our two-year KS4 provides breadth and depth across at least nine chosen subjects enabling our ambitious curriculum experience to continue from KS3 into KS4. In KS4 all students study English Language and English Literature, Mathematics and Science. Students are required to follow up to four additional courses leading to GCSE examinations. Most of our students are able to choose Separate Science. The timetable and option blocks are put together anew each year, considering students’ preferences, to ensure that the offer is tailored as much as possible to the needs of the specific year group. The ambitious range of options available ensure that whilst all students are expected to have a strong academic spine running through their choices, there is flexibility to supplement this from a range of practical and arts subjects. This contributes to the excellent achievement of students at KS4 and opens up extensive options post-16 and post-18, including access to prestigious courses and progression into a range of career options.
Almost all of our students choose at least one Ebacc subject, with very high numbers of students taking either Geography or History. Students are given a wide and inclusive experience of languages at KS3 and our ambition is to increase the percentage of students taking a Language at KS4. Alongside this however we are very protective of the broader, non-Ebacc curriculum. In subjects such as Music, Art, Drama and D&T our numbers remain above the national average. We are passionate about our students having the opportunity to engage with the whole spectrum of the curriculum taught in subject disciplines across KS4, especially as so many of them stay on with us into KS5.
Key Stage 5 Curriculum
Our Sixth Form curriculum provides a wide range of academic and vocational qualifications designed to challenge and engage our students, as well as to enable them to pursue their interests and to achieve their future aspirations. We provide targeted support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including the 16-19 Bursary.
Carefully planned opportunities support students to make informed decisions about their future, whether this is at university, on a degree/higher apprenticeship, or through employment. There is a focus on independence and agency through the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) and self-managed study periods. Our linear approach to A Levels allows flexibility and additional time to tailor the curriculum to students’ needs. There are numerous opportunities for students to develop knowledge and skills through the weekly Learning for Life (L4L) programme and annual work experience and 'Making A Difference' weeks. We ensure students are well-informed about contemporary issues, including: politics, ethics, safety, relationship and sex education, health and wellbeing through the PHSE programme and assemblies. This enables students to be healthy, well rounded young people. The curriculum is enhanced through numerous visits across the year, including via the Turing Scheme and a World Challenge expedition every other year. As well as an enriching two years in terms of our students’ academic and personal development, a strong emphasis is placed on progression to the next stage in students’ journeys and future aspirations. Students get explicit guidance, with exceptional individual support from the Sixth Form team.
How we organise our curriculum structure
At Bartholomew, we operate a two-week timetable where 50 hours of lessons are taught across 'week A' and 'week B'. We operate a three-year KS3, a two-year KS4 and a two-year KS5. It is this structure that allows us to provide a broad, ambitious curriculum for all of our students.
How we deliver our PHSE programme
At Bartholomew we use the phrase 'Learning for Life' (L4L) to refer to our taught Personal Development curriculum. Across all key stages, time is given to deliver a very well sequenced, age-appropriate and context-specific L4L curriculum. All of the above is carefully planned, sequenced and updated by our Head of L4L and delivered by our specialist teachers.
Through this curriculum, we aim to support our students to explore beliefs with respect and reflection and consider moral and ethical issues respectfully and sensitively. Students also learn about wellbeing and positive mental health, along with information relating to their own development as people and building healthy relationships. Students are shown how to become successful learners and are given age-related careers information, advice and guidance.
Our Thinking Skills Programme
All KS3 students have curriculum time dedicated to the study of Thinking Skills. In Year 7, the course aims to get students enthusiastic about thinking in different ways and to become more confident in expressing their ideas. In Year 8 there are activities that focus more on metacognition, encouraging students to think about their own thinking. The Year 9 course builds on these skills but is also designed to equip students with a variety of study skills and methods to help them become better independent learners.
We are currently developing an exciting new project to deliver a Climate Change and Sustainability curriculum to all students in KS3 as part of their Thinking Skills programme.
How we organise tutor time and assemblies
At Bartholomew our form tutors play a key role in supporting students to be ready to learn and students in Years 7 to 13 see their form tutor daily. Our tutors help to set their tutees up for success each day and carry out a planned series of activities supporting their academic and social development. We have very strong systems of pastoral support and all of our students are known and treated as individuals. In addition, all year groups have a weekly assembly which across the year covers a range of themes.
How we approach extracurricular activities
We have a wide range of extracurricular activities available to our students which change each term. These are divided into different themes which complement and go beyond the taught curriculum. Our approach is driven by an inclusive approach that puts an emphasis on providing opportunities for all students to engage. Our Barts Pass scheme has been designed to actively encourage students to get involved in activities outside the classroom and really make the most of their time at school.
During the recent pandemic we launched an online Barts Xtra virtual extracurricular provision. We were determined that the periods of online learning should impact as little as possible on students’ participation in wider school life.
Students who are disadvantaged or who have Special Educational Needs are particularly supported by adults in the school to join in with our extra-curricular programme and we make sure that any financial barriers are withdrawn.
We have a flourishing Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme programme as we believe D of E supports our whole school values of collaboration, trust and taking the initiative.
The learning experience of disadvantaged students and those with SEND are at the heart of our thinking on curriculum and teaching. We provide support in a variety of ways and centre our approach on:
- Quality first teaching, where all tasks/activities are carefully explained and/or modelled to ensure access
- Explicit teaching of language and terminology needed to access the curriculum
- Never assuming prior knowledge and carefully specifying exactly what students need to know
- Quizzing and other methods to ensure retention of knowledge over time
- Extremely high expectations and ensuring a calm and purposeful classroom environment
How we seek to implement our curriculum
In lessons, our students receive a well-crafted, subject-specific experience that is both academically rigorous and fully accessible. It is rich in traditionally academic, disciplinary knowledge but also aims to be both contemporary and relevant. Individual teachers are encouraged to show their passion and love for their subjects and to shape learning tasks to suit the needs of their classes. However, departments share planning and resource development and have consistent, well thought through schemes of work that ensure that all students receive the same, high-quality experience. There is lots of care in the sequencing of content which will allow students to show deep understanding of important ideas and concepts. We are especially alert to how we implement our curriculum for our disadvantaged students and for those who have Special Educational Needs.
In addition, our implementation is supported by:
- Subject level Curriculum Intent statements which explicitly outline the aspiration and ambition underpinning curriculum design in each subject and the ways in which this will be secured
- Subject Specific Assessment policies and calendars designed to secure effective sequencing and help key learning to stick
- Coherently sequenced curriculum summaries
- All classes taught by subject specialists (or by well-trained/supported non-specialists)
- High quality centralised approaches across most curricular areas led by highly skilled leaders
- High quality CPD which is responsive to individual staff training needs and feedback from our regular Developmental Drop-In system
- A well understood Behaviour for Learning system and a consistent approach to routines that helps our students to learn effectively
- Deep thinking about effective Teaching and Learning built around our Curriculum, Assessment and Teaching (CAT) Policy.
- Systems of intervention and support for students (especially in the context of our SEN interventions)
- Deliberate strategies designed to avoid excessive teacher workload and support well-being of our staff
How we review the impact of our curriculum
At Bartholomew, we continually seek to review the impact of our curriculum in a variety of ways.
- Student outcomes
- Student destination data at post-16 and post-18
- Internal student monitoring data including via Progress Reviews and Behaviour for Learning data
- Well-developed systems for self-evaluation and developmental conversations with subject leaders that follow an annual cycle and are regularly reviewed
- Regular quality assurance through our Developmental Drop-In system that informs staff development priorities