Our Curriculum Offer
Fuelled by our belief that ‘ordinary people can achieve extra-ordinary things’, the curriculum at St Mary’s College is ambitious for all students - providing a world class education which allows our young people to move onto their next steps with confidence, live informed and fulfilled lives, and contribute to the important issues of our time. With a sustained EBacc entry approximately double that of national average, we place academic rigour at the heart of all we do and seek to immerse our students in the very best of what has been thought and said. Equally, we place high value on the arts, sport, and languages to allow all students to pursue their own talents and interests, whilst our Extra-Curricular Pledge ensures that all students, regardless of background, are exposed to key places, events and experiences that will serve deepen their understanding of the world beyond the classroom.
Our curriculum is also designed to reflect our belief that the person of Christ and His message, is the foundation of the whole educational enterprise in a Catholic school. This relates to all taught subjects, assemblies, liturgies and extra-curricular activities, since there is nothing which does not ultimately relate to God.
We recognise that the benefits of a strong academic core significantly outweigh the sum of each subject/component part. Instead, this core provides the vehicle through which students are able to develop their critical thinking skills, deepen their understanding of key concepts and build their cultural capital.
As part of our strong academic core, we ensure that:
- The vast majority of students study the full suite of EBacc subjects - with sustained EBacc entry approximately double that of national average.
- Religious Education plays a fundamental role in the curriculum (being compulsory for all students in years 7-11) - allowing students to explore their own faith and sense of place in the world whilst also exploring other perspectives and experiences.
- Students in years 7-9 have access to our ‘Literacy for Life’ curriculum – which serves not only to support students in accessing a range of increasingly challenging texts, but also to develop the skills to articulate their views and perspectives with confidence and conviction.
- At KS5, our students are encouraged to become independent learners and develop the skills required for life beyond the Sixth Form. Through our Medical, Health & Social Care Academy, we aim to increase the NHS & Social Care workforce, particularly in the local area.
To promote ambition and achievement for all, we ensure that:
- Our core curriculum for students with some of the most complex needs is aligned closely with the learning journeys in each subject area.
- Our curriculum has the flexibility to respond to the needs of individuals from interventions through to bespoke pathways at KS4.
- Quality first teaching approaches in every classroom ensure that all students are able to access, and engage with, our curriculum at all stages.
- Our curriculum is also used to address social disadvantage – ensuring that all students are able to develop the cultural capital and skills that will allow them to succeed.
Whilst our curriculum is knowledge rich, we also value the development of disciplinary skills and see these as intrinsically linked to the development of core knowledge. Given our varied and diverse demographic, we do not leave the development of these vital skills to chance.
Learning journeys in each subject area have been crafted to ensure that:
- There is an absolute focus on the most crucial content and the way in which knowledge and skills are built progressively.
- Inter-disciplinary links are drawn out and foregrounded to support students in deepening understanding and placing new knowledge within broader concepts.
- Common gaps on entry to the school are clearly identified and addressed across the curriculum with the needs of the local context taken into account.
- An assessment framework forms a central part of the learning process with the assessment of students’ prior knowledge, current knowledge and application of knowledge and skills used consistently to re-shape the curriculum.
Reading across the Curriculum
Our commitment to reading is underpinned by the belief that being able to read ‘well’ can transform a student’s ability to learn and therefore to succeed. As such, our coherent approach to reading permeates all aspects of the curriculum.
Our approach to reading ensures that:
- Students read widely and often and are exposed to texts that help build cultural capital and introduce students to concepts and ideas from within and beyond their own experience.
- All students, regardless of their background and socio-economic status, have the skills in terms of fluency and comprehension, to access their learning across all subject areas.
- Our approach to reading permeates all aspects of the curriculum – from disciplinary reading approaches across subject areas, through to specific interventions for those students with the greatest weaknesses.
- Key Tier 2 and Tier 3 items of vocabulary are identified in curriculum plans and teachers explicitly teach, revisit and develop students’ understanding of these words throughout their schemes of learning.
There has been a purposeful, sustained and significant investment in the pastoral life of St Mary’s College, the pastoral curriculum and our extra-curricular offer. We believe that young people at SMC are entitled to:
- Experience significant events as participants and audience members.
- Explore our local context and understand their place within the world.
- Participate in local, national and international events and have the opportunity to share their voice and shape the world in which we live.
Our pastoral curriculum ensures that:
- Students build positive and sustained relationships with their personal tutors.
- School leaders take care to provide a relevant, responsive and impactful pastoral curriculum which includes daily form time and collapsed curriculum sessions every half term.
- There is a weekly routine of assemblies, reflection and prayer that is purposefully planned and follows relevant liturgical themes. In addition, this aspect of the curriculum allows for the flexibility to respond to emerging needs within both the school community and society in the broader sense.
- Focused and immersive sessions allow us to supplement embedded content which is featured across the curriculum by directly addressing carefully selected and mapped topics across the age range 11-19.
Our extra-curricular offer ensures that:
- Students of all abilities are able to participate and/or compete in a vast array of sports.
- All subject areas supplement their academic curriculum with a range of extra-curricular opportunities.
- Through our ‘core cultural offer’, all young people are given the chance to engage in sports and the arts, charity/volunteering and trips/activities.
- We develop relationships with leading organisations that can support student development, such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, British Council, professional sports teams, World Class Schools Quality Mark, Institute of Physics, partner schools in multiple countries and many more.
If you have a specific query about any element of our school curriculum, please contact us using our form: Contact Us