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Subject by subject guide

SUBJECT-BY SUBJECT GUIDE

The following gives a subject-by-subject guide overview of the curriculum and extra-curricular opportunities for Castle School students.

LIFESKILLS

MATHEMATICS

Welcome to the Castle Mathematics Faculty

The mathematics faculty is a thriving faculty under new leadership with a shared ethos of continued
professional development, collaborative working and the sharing of best practice. Staff operate both as
individuals and collectively as a team, with a singular vision of support and progression for all learners and
reduction of the attainment gap.  Our team comprises 15 members including 1 dedicated higher level teaching
assistant (HLTA). Our team is a balanced mix of experienced teachers and recently qualified teachers. This a
large dynamic Faculty led by Luke Kavanagh.
Attainment across all Key Stages is above average.  Mathematics is a popular subject at The Castle School
and our uptake of students following the subject into the Sixth Form remains consistently high.  Most of the
faculty teach throughout Years 7 to 13. 
 
Mathematics is taught in sets from Year 7.  At Key Stage 3, the scheme of work follows the new National
Curriculum using a variety of resources including investigations, Hegarty Maths, and a range of text books
underpinned by our own KS3 curriculum that ensures all students acquire the skills and knowledge needed to
progress successfully into KS4. In Year 8 and Year 10, the top two sets enter the UKMT Individual Maths
Challenges. We also take part in UKMT team events and offer extra-curricular opportunities and trips
throughout the academic year. We begin GCSE in Year 9 following the Edexcel specification.  In the Sixth
Form, A-level maths follows the OCR specification, we are able to run at 3 classes in each year group, and we
have a separate healthy Further Maths class running each year too. We have also introduced Mathematical
Studies (Core Maths) into Year 12, with around 20 students choosing it, and also run a resit GCSE class for
sixth-formers with excellent conversion rates. 
 
Our Faculty Intent:
“To foster a love and appreciation of maths and its contextual relevance to everyday life; allowing all students
to achieve success at all levels; to building on and applying core technics that underpin mathematical studies
in subsequent key stages; and, emphasising links to the wider curriculum and workplace.”

ENGLISH

Welcome to The Castle School English Faculty

Our Faculty Intent:

“Opening a window to the world through texts and literacy.”

The English faculty are a highly experienced and talented team of teachers who are passionate about the importance and relevance of our subject in our modern world. Our collective goal is to nurture a love of literature, to support young people in becoming critical thinkers and to guide them to be better equipped in navigating their life journeys through their experience of texts.

Our unapologetic focus on reading is supported in school through reading together in lessons, the fortnightly library lessons for key stage 3 classes, the tutor reading programme and an incredibly well resourced and friendly-staffed school library. For further information on this and for advice on how to support your child’s reading, please see the KS3 Reading Lessons document.

In response to the significant changes in the educational landscape over the last decade, our philosophy for dealing with the increased difficulty in English and 100% exams is to ensure that there is a sufficient level of challenge throughout key stage 3. We have addressed this by redesigning our key stage 3 curriculum entirely to incorporate set texts which are as difficult as (or more difficult than) the set texts at key stage 4. This is to ensure that our students are being exposed to the syntax, vocabulary and style of the classic literature that is a compulsory component of both the Language and Literature exams. However, the student will not be expected to read the whole novel in its unabridged form at key stage 3 and the level of challenge will be scaffolded up through years 7 to 9 and differentiated appropriately.

We have also introduced Knowledge Organisers and regular quizzing to encourage knowledge recall of key subject terminology. Furthermore, we have tried to make it easier for you to support your child in their home learning for English by creating home learning booklets and getting students used to using online resources such as Google classrooms, Show My Homework and Seneca from key stage 3 onwards.

Finally, our assessment model at Castle ensures that students have the opportunity to experience timed assessments - so as to take some of the stress and anxiety out of the GCSE exams in Year 11. We have devised a carefully thought through assessment timetable that ensures that all Castle students in English are able to learn how they can improve and that they are encouraged to reflect on their own performance as well as acting on personalised feedback provided by re-writing their work in class.

The best readers often make the best writers and vice-versa. Therefore, we would really welcome and appreciate your support in encouraging your son or daughter to read and write for pleasure at home in order to support everything that they will be doing at The Castle School.

SCIENCE

All students study Science (including all 3 areas of Biology, Chemistry and Physics)  until at least the end of Year 11.

In Years 7/8, all students follow a Science course, taught in tutor groups. During Year 9, students begin on one of 3 pathways leading to GCSE qualifications :

a)      Parents are given the option of students embarking on a Triple Science course, which moves at an accelerated pace and leads to 3 separate GCSEs at the end of Year 11. We normally have 2 or 3 classes following this pathway.

b)      The majority of students usually move onto a Double Science Pathway, that leads to a 2-grade Combined Science GCSE qualification at the end of year 11.

c)      For a small number of students, their study of the Combined Science GCSE may also be accompanied by an Entry-level Science course, with more accessible qualifications.

In the Sixth Form, students can choose from A-level courses in Physics, Chemistry, Biology or Medical Science.  There are usually 9 or 10 of these classes in each of Years 12/13.

Science also has a wide range of extra-curricular opportunities, including a KS3 Science Club, and a programme of ‘STEM’ activities open to all students.

MODERN FOREIGN LANGUAGES

Modern Foreign languages have always formed part of the compulsory Core Curriculum at Castle, and most students study at least one language to GCSE.  We believe that language development is an important skill for all.

In Year 7, all students study either French or German, in a roughly equal split.   Parents/carers  are able to specify a preference when accepting a place at the school ; up to 10% of parents typically do so.   Students will then continue with the study of this language through to GCSE.

In Year 9, students have the option of picking up an additional second language, and these initial taster classes run via a weekly after-school class.  These students can then choose to pick the second language as one of their optional GCSEs in Years 10/11.

In the Sixth Form, students can choose to study French or German A-levels. 

Students also have opportunities to travel abroad and develop their language skills :

Pupils studying German can choose to participate in our exchange programme with pupils from our twin town, Bockenem in Germany.  This runs across years 9 and 10.  In  year 9 we also offer a residential visit to northern France for pupils studying French.

In years 12/13, students can participate in a further exchange, which in Germany includes a week’s work placement.

The exchanges are long-established. For example, the German exchange with Bockenham is linked to its twinning with Thornbury, and has now run for over 30 consecutive years. 

Latin is currently available as an additional language in the extra-curricular offer.   We also offer support for students with other first languages who wish to take qualifications in the language : in recent years these have included Mandarin, Greek, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic and Polish.

For a small minority of students, we recognise that their literacy skills make detailed study of a foreign language more difficult,  In Year 7-9, a small number of students are involved in our Nuture programme as an alternative to MFL, where they focus on developing their basic literacy skills but will also spend time widening their awareness of other countries.    In Years 10-11, some students are invited onto an alternative personalised pathway instead of a foreign language GCSE, which could include an ASDAN COPE life skills qualification, or an 'Art Plus' course to develop creative skills, or smaller GCSE classes in History or Geography.

RELIGIOUS STUDIES

All students study Religious Studies until at least the end of Year 11, taught by a specialist team of teachers. Castle School is a non-denominational school, so we do not see Religious Studies as vehicle to instruct students to believe in any particular religion. However, we believe it is an essential part of every student’s core curriculum, as it seeks to help prepare students for life in modern Britain.

Our courses seek to help students develop an understanding of the major religions, their beliefs, customs and history. Yet Religious Studies also invites them to consider some of the major ethical and moral dilemmas that they will face as citizens, debate them and consider why others may hold differing views to their own.  So Religious Studies is also a key part of the school’s citizenship programme, and plays a vital role in the development of students’ spiritual, moral and cultural development.

During Years 9-11, all students work towards a full GCSE, which is sat at the end of Year 11.

In Year 8, students may take part in a day of visiting Places of Worship – where they travel into Bristol and may visit mosques, temples, synagogues and churches – to better understand the cultural differences between those of different faiths.

In Year 11, students take part in a RS conference in which they meet in small groups with representatives of various organisations, and take part in workshops to discuss ethical and moral issues.

In the Sixth Form, we offer an A-level course in Religion, Philosophy and Ethics. In addition, all students have a weekly Lifeskills lesson, the programme for which includes further opportunities to consider and debate a wide range of ethical, moral and religious questions.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

Physical Education

All students study Physical Education until at least the end of Year 11.

In Years 7-9, all students have at least 2 hours of Physical Education a week, taught in half-year groups. A wide curriculum is followed during each year. Students are generally taught in single-sex classes, alongside students of similar physical abilities.

In Years 10/11, this Core PE curriculum continues for all students, but with more student choice involved. In Year 10, students take part in a core PE programme that continues to build on the skills developed across Years 7-9 and includes a number of inter-house competitions. In Year 11 students will have a 2 hour lesson once a fortnight where they are given an opportunity to leave the school site and take part in activities in the local community. Students can attend Thornbury Leisure Centre, Thornbury Tennis Club and Thornbury Golf Club as well as activities within school.

In Years 10/11, students can also choose to study either GCSE PE or Cambridge Technical in Sports Science (Level 1/2) as one of their option choices; there are usually 3 or 4 classes a year following these courses. 

In the Sixth Form, we offer A-level PE.  We also run a timetabled recreational PE class as part of the Sixth Form Extension Curriculum on a Wednesday afternoon.

For students in all years there is a thriving programme of extra-curricular opportunities available each term. This includes inter-school teams in netball, hockey, rugby, football, athletics, cricket, cross-country, golf, tennis, plus regular clubs for fitness, trampolining, basketball and badminton.

There are also termly inter-house sports competitions (in football, netball, rugby, cross-country, hockey and athletics), allowing all students to take part in competitive team sport.

The PE department like to celebrate those students who perform at a high level of sport outside of school from local to international representation, many of them in sports not available in school. These individuals are recognised on our role of honour board.  In July 2019 we held our first Sports Award evening, attended by over 400 people, at Thornbury Leisure Centre.  The department also runs overseas tours in rugby, football and hockey, as well as an annual netball weekend camp.

HISTORY

All students study History until at least the end of Year 9.  Students can choose to continue to study History at GCSE, and it is a very popular option – 45% currently choose it, with up to 7 classes a year. 

We also offer A-level History in the Sixth Form, which has 2 or 3 classes a year.  

We are very fortunate in having Thornbury Castle on our doorstep, and we make frequent visits there as a case-study of the Tudor period.

GEOGRAPHY

All students study Geography until at least the end of Year 9.   Students can choose to continue to study Geography at GCSE, and it is a popular option – up to 6 classes a year.  During the GCSE course, all students take part in at least one fieldwork expedition to develop practical skills.

We also offer Geography at A-level in the Sixth Form, running 2 or 3 classes a year. All students carry out practical fieldwork, in Devon or Pembrokeshire, as part of this course.

ART

All students study Art until at least the end of Year 9, and The Castle School has had a long specialism in Visual Arts. As well as the Art Dept’s teaching rooms, they also have the Octagon Art Gallery. This Gallery includes a teaching space and a public gallery, and plays host to exhibitions of work by both professional artists and many Castle students, and has hosted Artists in Residence who work with our students of all ages.   The Dept includes 7 specialist teachers and 2 specialist technicians.

In Years 10 and 11, students can choose to take on GCSE courses in Art, Commercial Art and Design or Photography. There is no compulsion on students to take an Art course, but all 3 are popular choices. A small number of students may choose to do more than one of these at GCSE.

In Years 10/11, the Art Department also runs a Art Plus GCSE course. This forms part of an alternative provision for some students who may have a slightly reduced core curriculum, but allows nearly all of these students to obtain a GCSE in some form of Art & Design specialism.

In the Sixth Form, the Art Dept runs an even wider range of courses. Every year there are A-level courses running in Fine Art, 3-D Art, Graphic Art and Photography; each of these runs 1 or 2 classes in each year. 

There is a tradition of a wide range of extra-curricular opportunities for students within Art, and their work holds a powerful place around the school, and within the wider community.  The Octagon Gallery gallery provided exclusive opportunities for students to publicly display their Art, as well as a large exhibition celebrating students' artwork from that year in the summer term.

MUSIC

All students study Music in years 7-8.  There is an element of choice in Year 9, when students identify the Arts subjects they would prefer to study.  The curriculum within these years provides a wide repertoire of styles and experiences for students, and also ensures that every single student has taken part in at least one public concert during their time here.

In Years 10/11, students can opt to study either GCSE Music or BTEC Music if they wish, and these two routes provide an opportunity for students to chose the most appropriate course for their musical interests and talents.

In the Sixth Form, we offer an A-level in Music.

In addition to these formal courses, there are a wide range of options for instrumental tuition with our team of peripatetic tutors, with most instrumental areas available.  For detailed information on what’s available each term, please contact Mrs Becky Elderton - becky.elderton@cset.co.uk in our Music Dept.  There is also a wide range of extra-curricular opportunities running each week for students – these include orchestra, choirs, jazz bands, Irish folk group, and many others. Castle School also has a long history of developing steel bands which regularly perform locally and tour internationally, and there are weekly rehearsals for these also.  The Dept facilities were upgraded in 2012, to include a state-of-the art recording studio and more soundproofed practise rooms, and these are available for use by the many students who want to develop individual skills, or by the growing number of bands within school.

If you are interested in instrumental or singing lessons, please contact Becky Elderton, Head of Music

becky.elderton@cset.co.uk

Students musical skills are publicly showcased via a busy annual programme  of events, which include 3 major Music concerts, a Carol Service, a lower-school musical production, and performance evenings for students at GCSE and A-level.

DESIGN TECHNOLOGY

All students study Design Technology until at least the end of Year 9.   During Years 7/8, all students study modules which ensure they have experience of applying Design Technology principles within Food, Textiles, Resistant Materials, Electronics and Graphics. At the end of Year 8, students and parents/carers can indicate a preference for 2 specific areas to focus on in Year 9, and we try to meet these preferences as far as possible.  

We offer three different courses in Year 10/11 -

a)  Food Preparation and Nutrition (GCSE)

b) Engineering (Eduqas Award)

c) Design Technology (GCSE).  Within the GCSE, Students can opt to specialise in any area of Production Design,     Electronics or Fashion & Textiles for the practical component.

In the Sixth Form, there are opportunities for students to further develop their skills in any of the GCSE areas. The Design Technology faculty runs A-level courses in Textiles and in Product Design (the latter can lead on from Resistant Materials or Electronics).  A-level Food can be provided and an A-level Graphics course is provided by our Art Dept.

There are a wide range of extra-curricular opportunities available within Design Technology. These include a growing number of STEM and Engineering opportunities, many in conjunction with some of our Premium Partners such as Hyundai and Renishaw. We are also working closely with  a number of organisations to help promote routes for girls into engineering, as they are an under-represented group within one of Bristol’s major employment areas.

In this field, in the last 5 years we have achieved a lot of national recognition.  This has included students reaching national finals in 'F1 for Schools', the department display at the national 'Big Bang' festivial at the NEC, and where a finalist at STEM School of the year.

COMPUTING AND ICT

As well as developing ICT skills in all areas of the curriculum, all students have formal lessons taught by the Computing and ICT faculty until at least the end of Year 9. This formal programme includes an annual programme of e-safety education, introduction to the principles of coding and computer science, and development of a range of ICT skills.

In Years 10/11, students can choose to study a GCSE in Computer Science.  The course, taught by subject specialists, enables students to develop practical programming skills using Python and an understanding of a wide-range of theoretical concepts.  The GCSE course prepares students for A Level study, the workplace or beyond.

In the Sixth Form, we also offer an A-level in Computer Science.

E-safety forms parts of the Lifeskills and assembly programme for all students up to Year 13. There are also extra-curricular opportunities for students of all ages, including a Coding Club, ICT clinics and wider experience visits to UWE.

DRAMA

The Drama Department  forms part of the Arts faculty, and is taught as a stand-alone subject . In Years 7-8 , all students study Drama as part of their curriculum. There is an element of choice in Year 9, when students identify the Arts subjects they would prefer to study .There is both a Drama and Musical Theatre Club for students of this age.

In Year 10, students can opt to take Drama GCSE, with  the option for A level in the Sixth Form.   There is a regular programme of theatre visits to professional performances for all these students. 

Drama Lessons in Years 7-9 take place in either the Drama Hall , Dance Studio or Main Hall at Park Road. GCSE and A-level lessons take place in the Drama Studio, which is currently at our Gloucester Road site.

As well as GCSE and A-level performances, students from the Key Stage 3 clubs are given opportunities to perform and share their work .

DANCE

All students study Dance as a separate subject in years 7-8. There is an element of choice in Year 9, when students identify the Arts subjects they would prefer to study.  This is taught by our Dance Department, a team of specialist teachers who form part of our Arts faculty.

In Years 10/11, students can opt to study Dance GCSE. In the Sixth Form students can opt to study our Dance A-level, which is offered as a specialist dance qualification.    The vast majority of Dance lessons at all ages take place in our specialist Dance Studio wherever possible, though we also use the Drama Hall as necessary.

There is also a strong programme of extra-curricular clubs, with at least 1 activity every day run by one of our specialist teachers. We put on an annual Dance Competition, open to all students, and at least 2 full-performance shows each year.  We also regularly host masterclasses run by professional dance companies, and have supported a number of students who have moved on to professional training.

BUSINESS, CARE AND HEALTH (BCH)

Business, Care and Health (BCH) is the title of a faculty which offers a wide range of 14-19 courses in Years 10-13. Students can opt to take one or more of these courses from Year 10, having had taster sessions in Year 9 to find out more about the subjects.  The range of courses available is wider for Sixth Form options, and some students choose a full-time academic or vocational curriculum from within this faculty.  The subjects available are Health and Social Care, Child Play, Learning & Development, Applied Business, and Economics.

BUSINESS

In Years 10/11, students can opt for a GCSE Business course, we run 1 or 2 classes a year.

In the Sixth Form, we have two A-level courses running – A-level Business Studies and A-level Applied Business. Again, 1 or 2 classes of each run in each year.

ECONOMICS

Within the Sixth Form, we offer an A-level course in Economics with at least one class in every year.

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE

In Years 10/11, we offer a Level 2 BTEC course in Health & Social Care, which is a popular option – usually running 2 or 3 classes in each year.   In Year 9, students can take part in taster lessons to find out more about this subject.

In the Sixth Form, Health and Social Care is offered as a level 3 Cambridge Technical qualification, with 2 possible routes – a 12 unit or a 6 unit award (equivalent to 2 or 1 A-levels). We usually run one class following each route. Students on these courses usually complete a long-term work placement in this career field as part of their study programme.

CHILDCARE, LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT (CCLD)

Within the Sixth Form we offer a level 3 BTEC qualification in CCLD. This is run as a 6-unit qualification...equivalent to 1 A-level.. and can be combined with a 12-unit Health & Social care qualification to make a vocational study programme in this area.  Students on this course also complete a compulsory long-term work placement in this career field as part of their course.

SOCIOLOGY

The Sociology Dept forms part of our Humanities faculty, and offer courses from Year 10 upwards.   At GCSE we run up to 3 classes in each year, and during Year 9 students have a chance to try a taster lesson to find out more about the subject.

In the Sixth Form we run at least one A-level class in each year, for which it is not essential to have studied the subject at GCSE.

PSYCHOLOGY

The Psychology Dept forms part of our Humanities faculty, and offers an A-level Psychology course in the Sixth Form. This is one of the most popular courses, usually running 3 or 4 classes a year.

MEDIA STUDIES

The Media Department forms part of our Expressive Arts faculty, and offers courses in Years 10-13.

In Years 10/11, we offer a Media Studies GCSE course. Students in Year 9 are offered a taster lesson to find out more about the GCSE subject.   Students will have also been introduced to media based topics as part of their English KS3 course.

In the Sixth Form we offer A-level Media Studies.  All GCSE and A-level courses are taught in our specialist rooms on the lower and Sixth Form sites, where we have access to the necessary technology for research, coursework and editing.

ASDAN CERTIFICATE OF PERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS (COPE)

In Years 10/11, we offer an ASDAN COPE course as an alternative option for some students. The course focuses on developing wider learning and social skills, by presenting students with a series of individual and team challenges over the two-year course. Students’ progress on each challenge is recorded by them, along with written assignments, to provide a full portfolio of achievement. Each student’s level of achievement is assessed and results in an external Level 1 or level 2 qualification.

CRITICAL THINKING

Although no longer available nationally as an A-level course, we provide classes in Critical Thinking within our Sixth form, which are particularly useful for those students having to sit entrance tests for competitive university courses ( eg. Oxbridge, Medicine, Dentistry and Law). 

Aimed at developing students’ ability to reason, formulate coherent and logical arguments, spot flaws in arguments and assess the relative credibility of information sources, Critical Thinking can support students’ current and future work in all other academic fields. 

EXTENDED PROJECT (EPQ)

The Extended Project qualification is offered in our Sixth Form, alongside a suite of A-levels and vocational qualifications.  Each student on the course carries out an in-depth, independent research project designed to cover a qualification they have chosen.  The project can be in any field the student wishes, and allows students to delve deeper into areas of potential useful study.  The EPQ is highly regconised by universities, as a way of demonstrating higher level study and thinking skills.