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Part of castle school education trust

"Castle School Education Trust is committed to high quality education across the primary, secondary and sixth form key stages. Our schools cover the South Gloucestershire area. We encourage independence within each school within a strong framework of values."

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Our Curriculum

At The Castle School, our vision is to have;

“An exceptional school at the heart of the community where every student has the curiosity,  skills and confidence to make the world a better place"

Our core values of aspiration, fairness and kindness are at the heart of everything we do.  We set high expectations to ensure that every student excels across all aspects of school life.

Curriculum Intent

Our intention is to ensure students make outstanding progress and that the curriculum removes any potential barriers to learning.

We want our students to leave with knowledge, understanding and skills which will  create excellent life opportunities and also prepare them exceptionally well for all aspects of life beyond the school.

We want our students to understand the importance and enjoyment of academic excellence, but also to appreciate the ways in which the many skills they learn in school affect their future employability.

At The Castle School, students will

  • experience a broad, deep and knowledge rich curriculum;
  • be literate and numerate;
  • have high expectations for their behaviour and achievement;
  • build their character;
  • develop their cultural, social, moral, mental and physical development;
  • secure foundations for progression

 

Students experience a broad, deep and knowledge rich curriculum

Our curriculum helps students to achieve high standards and make excellent progress. Our three year Key Stage 3 (KS3) curriculum is broad and students learn essential knowledge built around a curriculum map to ensure they have a deep understanding across a range of subjects. There are opportunities built into lessons to secure the need to recall and retrieve previous learning though accurate planning and sequencing.  This is designed to ensure knowledge is built upon and assessed routinely in lessons, at regular intervals throughout the year including annual examinations. 

As well as a strong academic core to our curriculum, we have also responded to the local labour market information, suggesting that Engineering and Arts are high employers locally and predicted growth areas. As a result, we have a wide range of courses in Arts and DT/Computing in KS3, and a wider range of choices in both areas at GCSE and A-level.

Our KS3 curriculum directly supports and encourages a high proportion of students to study the EBacc suite of subjects at Key Stage 4 (KS4).  Studying a language, German or French, form part of the compulsory core curriculum at The Castle School.  The vast majority of our students study at least one language to completion at GCSE level.  In consultation with parents, at KS3, a small number of students with identified special educational needs will follow an additional nurture programme instead of studying a language, to enhance their literacy and global understanding.  At KS4, in consultation with parents, a very small number of additional students are offered a more flexible curriculum instead of studying a language to GCSE level. 

At KS4, the majority of students will aim to achieve nine examinable qualifications, GCSEs or equivalent.  In addition, some more able students will have the opportunity to study triple science.  As a large school, we offer twenty three different option courses at KS4 which are a mixture of GCSEs and vocational courses designed to suit the needs of individual students.  Students are strongly encouraged and guided to study the full EBacc suite of subjects where appropriate.  These courses are carefully planned to ensure that content is thoroughly revisited and this undoubtedly prepares pupils for external examinations at the end of the course.  The KS4 provision ensures that all students are able to transition into the next stage of education or training effectively.  

Over 50% of our students continue on to our Key Stage 5 (KS5) provision. Our Sixth Form, the joint Castle and Marlwood School provision, offers level 3 programmes with over 25 courses offered.  There is also a wide Extension Curriculum, and a strong level of support in the dedicated Sixth Form Centre. This provision strongly supports students in progressing, with the majority moving on to university or higher-level apprenticeships. 

 

Students will be literate and numerate

The development of student language and oracy is a key part of our curriculum as we understand how vital it is for our students to build confidence in communication skills not only for their time in school but also to prepare them for working life. We ensure students have opportunities in all subjects to discuss, challenge and build on other points of view and to develop their formality of language to ensure they can have the confidence to speak to different audiences. 

Development of reading is key at The Castle School.  A rigorous and sequential approach  to reading has been developed through whole class reading within the tutor programme, through the use of Accelerated Reader programme and a reading lesson within English in KS3.  Students who arrive below expected reading age from KS2 are quickly caught up through expert teaching and active management of their progress on the Accelerated Reader course.  At all stages, reading attainment is assessed and gaps are addressed quickly and effectively.

Numeracy skills are embedded across the curriculum.  Students who arrive with below expected maths skills are quickly caught up through expert teaching and incisive intervention. 

The school ensures that students are literate and numerate enabling them to flourish, thrive and access the next stage of their education, employment or training.

 

Students will have high expectations for their behaviour and achievement

The Castle School is inclusive and ambitious for all. We have high expectations of all students and provide an opportunity for students to learn what is expected of them morally. Our behaviour policy ensures that students learn that actions have consequences and they can accept and appreciate differences between people. Whilst students gain knowledge through KS3 and KS4, we also want them to become learners who are enquiring, enthusiastic, engaged and mannerly. Students will develop high expectations of themselves and embed our key mantra of “Work hard, Be kind, Be respectful”.

 

Students will build their character

We are totally committed to improving the life chances and aspirations of our students. We ensure students have access to a wide extra-curricular programme which provides numerous opportunities in sport, creativity, performing, world of work, volunteering and membership. All students are members of a House, which is used for encouraging involvement and competition. The Lifeskills curriculum, aided by assemblies and Curriculum Focus days, includes opportunities to encourage wider thinking, cultural reflection and personal development. There is a wide programme of visits, including overseas travel, to widen students’ cultural awareness and knowledge.  We also have a strong emphasis on developing students as leaders - through student councils, senior student roles, sports leadership roles, Duke of Edinburgh Award and single-issue groups such as Eco-team. There is a particularly strong emphasis on development of individual character with students with SEN, including a scheme where our SEN students spend time supporting students at New Siblands Special School and Yr5 and 6 students undertaking our enhanced transition programme to secondary school from feeder primary schools.

 

Students will develop their cultural, moral, social, mental and physical development 

A key aim of our curriculum for all students is a desire to help all of our young people to become citizens who will make informed, positive contributions to life in Modern Britain. All aspects of school life contribute to this in addition to the two strands which deliberately cover many of the explicit aspects of this curriculum intention. These two curriculum areas are Life Skills and Religious Studies, both of which are taught to all students. The Lifeskills curriculum has six key themes within each year, these are known as the CASTLE themes. These are;

C: Citizenship

A: Awareness , Advice & Support

S : Sex & Relationships

T: Towards a Healthy Lifestyle

L : Living in a Wider World

E : Employability & Preparing for the Future

The programme for Religious Studies leads to the majority of students completing a GCSE by the end of Year 11, yet its scope goes much wider than simply studying different religions. The curriculum here is designed to encourage students to consider the many ethical and moral questions that face all societies and all citizens, and also to consider the ways in which British society can deal with issues such as extremism, racism, issues of sexuality, democratic participation, and many others. Its aim is to encourage students to listen to and appreciate the views of others, contribute to discussion and debate and develop their own individual opinions and skills of oracy.

At The Castle School, we pride ourselves on delivering a curriculum which has a highly effective SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural).  The broader concepts of SMSC are explicit in order to develop students as a whole, not just academically, to ensure that they are fully prepared for life in modern Britain. Students are able to envision 'The Bigger Picture' and show that learning is linked to the real world and experiences. Students are encouraged to take part in a range of sporting, cultural and charitable activities.  Links with local and national business enrich the curriculum offer and help to contextualise learning.

The weekly assembly programmes, the Curriculum Focus day and the wide range of extra-curricular activities on offer play a key part of the wider curriculum. 

The Castle School offers a wide range of trips and visits and welcomes a number of visiting speakers to ensure that students have an opportunity to be reflective of their own beliefs (religious or otherwise) and perspective on life. Students are encouraged to participate in a variety of community and social settings including volunteering and leadership opportunities.

A wide range of artistic, cultural, sporting, and musical opportunities are offered to enable students to participate in activities which develop their social skills and specific aspects of their personal development.

 

Students will secure foundations for progression

It is our intention to ensure students have secure foundations for progression into further and higher education and apprenticeships. From Year 7, students receive career information with a clear focus on the Gatsby benchmarks, and Employability is one of the key strands in our taught Lifeskills programme.  Over the course of 5 years, and continuing into the sixth form, students receive a rigorous and bespoke aspirations program that exposes them to a huge range of voices and experiences.  All students will have done a work experience placement, as well as having personal guidance, before completing Year 11. We work with Compass to provide tailored individual guidance to students, and we make use of a wide network of local employers, known as Premium Partners, to provide a range of first-hand experiences for students. These include Aspirations weeks, networking breakfasts and additional work experience opportunities. Students and parents can make use of an online platform, Unifrog, to access up-to-date careers and vacancy information, and a weekly drop-in lunchtime Careers Hub allows all students to access additional help on any aspect of CEIAG. There is a strong programme to support with university and apprenticeship applications, including a bespoke programme for those applying for Oxbridge and other highly competitive courses.

 

Curriculum Implementation

The school believes that a carefully planned and structured curriculum, with appropriate assessment, is the foundation upon which excellent learning and development is built.  The curriculum is designed and implemented in such a way that it builds on prior knowledge and prepares students for the next stage in their education. This is complemented by the school’s teaching and learning philosophy which is based upon the Rosenshine’s core principles of learning.  This ensures that lessons are engaging and suitably differentiated so that students spend the large majority of time in lesson working independently at their level of ability. Most students are taught by subject specialists so students therefore benefit from expert knowledge presentation. A key feature of recent CPD has been on developing an understanding of the Cognitive Load theory which has led to teachers ensuring that students embed key concepts in students’ long term memories and apply new knowledge fluently. New information is effectively sequenced with new skills built on what has been taught before so that students can work towards a clearly defined end point.

Development of language and building knowledge are integral to curriculum planning.  Subject Leaders, who are experts in their subjects, carefully construct a curriculum that promotes a deep understanding of a wide range of topics.  Teachers plan learning that allows students to embed and recall knowledge through techniques such as interleaving of topics and spaced practice.  This builds firm foundations for progression to the next level and exam success. 

At The Castle School teachers routinely assess to check students’ understanding in order to inform teaching. Assessment is used effectively to embed knowledge across the curriculum and is used successfully by teachers to support students to be clear about their next steps.

KS3

The three year KS3 curriculum is designed to be broad and build on the national curriculum taught at Key Stage 2 (KS2).  The KS3 curriculum allows students to develop their knowledge and skills across a broad range of subjects so that they can become curious and confident learners as well as preparing them rigorously for KS4 courses.    

Students discretely study the subjects of English, Mathematics, Science, French or German, History, Geography, Religious Studies, Computer Science, Art, Music, Drama, Dance and Physical Education throughout KS3.  Students also are taught Design and Technology on a carousel which includes food, product design, fashion and textiles and electronics throughout KS3.  In Year 9, students are able to stipulate a preference between music, drama and dance with all students studying at least two of these areas. In Year 7 we also have 1 additional lesson which focuses on a priority area of personal development. This year the additional lesson has been dedicated to Healthy Living ; for the 3 previous years it was STEM. 

In order to support students’ personal development, they study our Lifeskills (PSHCE) programme weekly.  This ensures all statutory elements of the national curriculum are covered and ensures students are supported in being prepared for the diverse aspects of life and enhances their awareness of careers’ opportunities.

Students are arranged in tutor groups within their Year, and groups usually move up with a tutor for 5 years.  There is a weekly assembly for each year group delivered by the Head of Year or a Senior Leader on a key theme.

Throughout KS3 there is a programme of additional curriculum events to widen students’ learning and personal development. These include inter-house competitions, Sex and relationship theme days, STEM days, poetry slams, musical recordings, charity support events and traditional sports days.

 

​KS3 Curriculum Assessment and Reporting to parents:

  • CSET's internal KS3 assessment and report grading is designed to allow stakeholders to monitor progress.
  • At KS3, students do not have targets as there is no national benchmark testing. For each subject, students are placed into 1 of 4 attainment bands using the same language and based on their KS2 SATs outcomes: WT ‘working towards’, WA 'working at', WB 'working beyond', WWB 'working well beyond’.
  • CSET has developed a set of KS3 (Years 7-9) age related expectations for each subject studied. Standardised assessments including end of unit and end of year tests are used to evaluate student attainment at set points during the year.
  • Demands and expectations increase from Years 7 - 9 so that students are ready and prepared to meet the demands of Key Stage 4.  During Year 7 - 9, remaining in the same attainment band demonstrates progress over time in line with expectation.
  • Students are assessed by a combination of peer, self and teacher assessments. Regular, low stakes testing ensures that students embed knowledge into their long term memory. Summative assessment, on-which reports are based, take place at least once per half term or at the end of a unit of work (whichever comes first).
  • Following summative assessment, pupils are expected to correct their misconceptions and extend their comprehension. Additional tasks may be set to further consolidate new learning and fill the critical knowledge and concept gaps.
  • Parents receive reports 3 times per year.  1 attitude to learning report and 2 progress reports. Progress reports indicate the students’ relative progress with respect to their KS2 attainment band, together with an indication of their behaviour and attitude to learning.

 

KS4

Options are structured in such a way to allow pupils a free choice, with all students having at least 3 choices available. This ensures equity of delivery, with all pupils having equal access to subjects. The options are designed to stretch and challenge students and to meet the demands of the local labour market. We offer a mixture of practical and academic subjects and a range of different accreditation routes including academic and vocational options.  This gives every student the opportunity to construct a broad and balanced curriculum, but still offers flexibility to maximise the outcomes achieved by each individual. This model also maintains the widest possible choice for progression routes Post 16 as every student will have a greater range of subjects on which to choose future opportunities for education and training, whether in our Sixth Form or elsewhere.​

As well as a core curriculum of Maths, English, Science and French/German, all students continue to follow a taught LifeSkills programme throughout KS4, and to study towards a GCSE in RE. The KS4 core PE programme gives students’ increasing choice of opportunities for building lifelong habits for recreation and exercise, including the use of external coaches and providers.

 

​KS4 Curriculum Assessment and Reporting to parents:

  • Students are assessed by a combination of peer, self and teacher assessments. Regular, low stakes testing ensures that students embed knowledge into their long term memory. Faculty formative assessment, takes place at least once per half term or at the end of a unit of work (whichever comes first).
  • Following summative assessment, pupils are expected to correct their misconceptions and extend their comprehension. Additional tasks may be set to further consolidate new learning and fill the critical knowledge and concept gaps.
  • Yr11 sit two PPE exams in term 2 and term 4
  • Yr10 school whole school examinations are conducted in term 6
  • There are 3 progress reports for each year group annually that coincide with the completion of either in-house formative assessment or whole school summative assessment (End of year examinations yr10 or PPE yr11).
  • Progress reports indicate the students relative progress with respect to agreed targets (set in in term 1 yr10), together with an indication of their behaviour and attitude to learning.

Curriculum Impact

 

At The Castle School, our curriculum will:

  • ensure that the sequence of learning builds on previous knowledge whilst supporting future progression.
  • lead to qualifications that are of worth for employers and for entry to further and higher education.
  • enable all students to fulfil their potential.
  • meet the needs of students of all abilities at the school..
  • allow students to acquire an appreciation and respect for their own and other cultures.
  • prepare students to compete in the global economy.
  • prepare students to make informed choices at the end of KS3, KS4, KS5 and beyond.
  • Enable students to develop the curiosity, skills and confidence to make the world a better place.

 

Curriculum Hours​

  • In KS3 students join a mixed ability tutor group which often stays together for 5 years, and in Years 7& 8 only they are taught for some lessons within this group - but no more than 50% of the time. Students are set by ability in some of the core subjects. 
  • From Year 9 onwards, more ability setting and banding takes place in all core subjects.
  • In KS3 some small nurture groups help to meet the additional needs of those pupils who struggle most with the transition to secondary school, focusing on literacy and numeracy. 
  • All lessons are 1 hour in length and there are 25 lessons per week.
  • SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural) and FBV (Fundamental British Values) are embedded into the curriculum and delivered through all subjects, with a particular emphasis in Lifeskills and RE.

 

​Subject

Periods per fortnight

 - Year 10

​​Periods per fortnight

- Year 11

​English

​7

​7

​Maths

​6

​7

​Science

​10

​10

​MFL

​5

​5

RE

​2

​2

​PE

​3

​2

​Lifeskills

​2

​2

​Option A

​5

​5

​Option B

​5

​5

​Option C

​5

​5

  • At KS4 core subjects are set and/or banded by ability
  • Option groups are largely mixed ability with some setting if there is more than one group in an option block.
  • All lessons are 1 hour in length and there are 25 lessons per week.

 

​Subject 1

​Periods per week - Year 7

​Periods per week - Year 8

​Periods per week  - Year 9

​English

​Maths

​Science

French/German

History

Geography

​RE

​PE

Art

Music

DT

Computing

Dance

Drama

Lifeskills

​Healthy Living

​7

​7

​6

​5

​3

​3

​2

​4

2

2

3

1

1

1

​2

​1

​7

​7

​6

​5

​3

​3

​2

​4

2

2

3

2

1

1

2

​​

​7

​7

​7

​5

​3

​3

​3

​4

2

1

3

1

1

1

​2

​



Curriculum Review​

  • Curriculum delivered in each subject will be reviewed annually by subject leaders to ensure the sequence of delivery allows pupils to build on their knowledge and that pupils are sufficiently stretched and challenged.
  • Subject leaders will justify their curriculum to the senior leadership team every two years.
  • Implementation will be reviewed and quality assured through line management, learning walks, book looks and lesson observations.
  • The curriculum hours and subjects offered will be analysed by the senior leadership team and governors on an annual basis.
  • The student council will discuss curriculum content and delivery annually. This will be fed back to the senior team and staff.
  • Parents and students will have the opportunity to review the curriculum content and delivery through parent and student surveys.  â€‹

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