At John Masefield High School, our aim is to provide excellent and enjoyable learning for all of our students through a broad and balanced curriculum, with opportunity for some specialisation in areas of strength or interest from Year 9 onwards. Through developing excellent knowledge in each of our faculty areas and a broader appreciation of culture, our students develop a love of learning. Through our curriculum we strive to develop in our students the qualities of being conscientious, considerate and co-operative and to enhance their opportunities for life. By ensuring the curriculum is well planned with clearly defined end points and is carefully sequenced we ensure that our students know more, remember more, and understand better.
We have developed a knowledge-based curriculum in order for our students to gain the knowledge required to take an active part in an academic society. Through the acquisition of a wide range of subject specific knowledge and vocabulary, student’s cultural capital improves. We aim to challenge the cultural capital gap between the disadvantaged students and their peers by providing curriculum equity. A knowledge-based approach to the curriculum is accessible for all learners, therefore all students have access to learning the range of knowledge that will enable them to succeed in their future pathways and beyond.
The structure of the hours given at each point has been carefully considered to enable students to access a broad and balanced curriculum.
Key Stage 3 – Year 7 and 8
We cover all of the Key Stage 3 National Curriculum in Years 7 and 8.
- Two priorities across the whole school are to enable all students to become literate and numerate in order to develop skills required for life. This is reflected in the number of hours given to English and mathematics across the first five years at JMHS.
- Science has slightly less hours in Key Stage 3 than maths and English but this increases in Year 9 and then again in Years 10 and 11. Key Stage 3 focusses on early knowledge with a strong emphasis on practical work and developing scientific thinking.
- In recent years we have increased the provision in humanities so that all students in Year 7 and 8 have two hours each of history and geography and one hour of RE per week. This has significantly increased the time spent in these subjects. (First GCSE exams will be taken in June 2025).
- All students have the choice between studying one or two languages in Year 8.
- Students study ICT for one hour a week throughout Year 7 and 8 which includes a module on programming to develop early skills required for computer science at Key Stage 4.
- Design technology and food & nutrition are taught on a rotation basis in Year 7 and 8. By having a term on each discipline it allows the students to concentrate on their design development skills by being able to ‘Research, Design, Make and Review’ within each discipline and therefore repeat the process three times in a year to allow them to embed that knowledge cycle.
- Students all study art, music (where all learn two instruments) and performing arts (drama/dance) in Year 7 and 8.
- RSE is delivered in several ways, through science lessons, tutor time and extra lessons delivered by their Year leader. PSHE is delivered through tutor time.
Key Stage 4 – Year 9 Transition Year, Year 10 and 11 GCSE
As a school we have committed to offering the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) for the vast majority of pupils (a few students with specific SEND needs will be disapplied) as we feel that it is important for social mobility. We believe that studying the EBacc qualifications will considerably enhance student’s life chances as they facilitate the greatest flexibility both into A level and university courses. The three-year Key Stage 4 is to support the students’ academic success on this challenging pathway and still keep breadth and balance of the curriculum.
The three-year Key Sage 4 allows a larger breadth of study at Key Stage 4 as students are able to choose their language and their humanity plus two additional subjects. This gives the students the opportunity to specialise in the subjects that are of most interest to them. These two additional subjects are chosen from a selection of 12 different subjects plus the ability to study a second language or humanity.
For us Year 9 is the first year of Key Stage 4 courses and is used as a transition year. In Year 9 students learn the key knowledge and start to develop the skills that underpin their future GCSE and BTEC courses. This furthers curriculum equity as all subjects that the students’ study will have been taught prior to GCSEs and BTECs starting in Year 10. The transition year allows each subject to offer a deeper and wider range of content that we deem is important to lifelong learning, this means that students have a greater amount of knowledge to draw upon in a wider range of subjects. It also allows students to change courses during Year 9 if they feel that the subject chosen does not suit their interests/needs without missing out on core GCSE content.
The transition year enables students to work with confidence and fluency in Year 10 and Year 11 building more detailed knowledge, and during Year 11 the ability to solve more complex problems. As an 11-18 school, we ensure the Key Stage 4 courses are excellent preparation and link in well with our Sixth Form studies.
Focussing the students on their GCSE pathways has improved behaviour and attitude to learning in Year 9 which is vital to successful learning. Prior to moving to a three year Key Stage 4 more behaviour incidents were reported in Year 9.
Mitigation against concerns of a two-year Key Stage 3 and three-year Key Stage 4
- Not covering the national curriculum in Key Stage 3
Key Stage 3 remains broad and balanced. Students are allocated sufficient curriculum time to study the national curriculum course. Due to the well mapped out, knowledge-based approach to the curriculum and directive teaching model, plus the low level of disruption, we have successfully safeguarded lesson time meaning teachers are able to cover content at an accelerated rate. All faculties cover at least the Key Stage 3 national curriculum and a number go beyond that curriculum.
- Breadth and balance may be compromised in Year 9
Students have a wide range of subjects that they can study with 64% of choices offered being creative arts and technology. Due to the strong Key Stage 3 program, 92% of students have opted to study at least one creative arts or technology subject for 2022. Due to the flexibility of timetabling the blocks (completed based on students’ Choices), the vast majority of students continue with their first Choice pathway (the only students with reserves occurred when courses could not be run due to insignificant numbers).
The extra-curricular program complements this and further promotes students’ participation in arts and technology based subjects even when not studied in Year 9 onwards.
- GCSE courses are meant to only be two years
Our GCSE/BTEC courses only last for two years, Year 10 and 11. Year 9 is a transition year where content has been selected based on its value and importance in the future. It is further developing the knowledge learned at Key Stage 3 whilst also preparing students for their GCSE/BTEC course starting in Year 10. During Year 9, students will read different texts, study different areas of history, different places in geography, case studies in business etc. This allows them to make comparisons in their GCSE with previously learned material that sits outside of the specification. Students in Year 9 are not assessed against GCSE criteria and do not experience GCSE style questions.
Moving to a two-week timetable had a number of benefits both at Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4.
In Key Stage 3 it allowed the increase in time for the humanity subjects by reducing maths and English to 7 hours across the two weeks in Year 7 and 8 (previously 4 per week). This meant that maths and English had the same number of hours in both year groups rather than having 3 hours a week in one year group and keeping 4 in the other. This has helped to construct a consistent curriculum, particularly in maths as a stage not age system is used.
In Key Stage 4 we previously had a system where Choice subjects were on a 3/2/3 or 2/3/2 system across the three years. This caused issues with different groups in the same subject having different hours and made designing a strong consistent curriculum more difficult. Moving to a two-week timetable meant that Choice subjects could have a standard 5 hours per fortnight which enabled all groups in a particular subject to be moving at the same time through the curriculum which then enabled more consistent teaching and assessment. It also meant that Curriculum Leaders could plan a curriculum that did not need to change year on year and therefore could make it more structured, complete and robust.