Curriculum Rationale

The principles of our curriculum

Our curriculum is designed to:

  • Lead to good results as the new GCSE assessments are designed to ascertain pupils knowledge to help them to flourish in the future and not to be left behind
  • Develop students’ personal skills such as the ability to work in a team, think critically, learn independently, reflect upon their learning, participate in their learning and within the life of the school, and develop life skills such as applying for a job, paying a bill, staying safe in a digital world and staying safe and healthy.

Students learn a broad range of subjects for as long as possible at Brine Leas to ensure a breadth of curriculum. Recent commentary from Ofsted indicates that we’d be wise not to curtail curriculum breadth prematurely. For this reason, we are committed to following a 3 year Key Stage 3 to ensure that we do not curtail pupils’ experiences of the arts, design & technology and humanities, although the majority of subjects provide a spiral curriculum to enable students to make an informed choice as to which subjects to study at Key Stage 4 and to aid transition between the two Key Stages. The GCSE examinations are designed to cover 2 years of content. Extending beyond 2 years is unlikely to lead to more knowledge but will add to more test preparation.

Our options process promotes an academic curriculum. We aim to maximise EBacc take-up at KS4 with the overwhelming majority of students taking a MFL subject at GCSE and over half taking a Humanity, Geography or History. However, a wide range of GCSE courses are offered along with vocational qualifications to maximise individual student grade outcomes and Progress 8.

Time is limited. Therefore, the hyperlinks opposite identifies what proportion of the curriculum time in KS3 and KS4 is allocated to each of the curriculum areas and the teaching hours for a 50-period fortnight.

For specific subjects:

We provide a knowledge-based curriculum in all key stages.

Mathematics and English

Maths and English is prominent in all year groups; a greater proportion of lessons are allocated to these subjects within each Key Stage. Mathematics operating a mastery curriculum, to ensure students master a skill before progressing on with subject matter. In contrast, English operates a spiral curriculum, to ensure students encounter the same skills increasing in complexity and reinforcing previous learning; each topic requires the deepening of thought with each successive encounter. Literacy and numeracy skills for all students are supported with additional reading and numeracy sessions taking place for 20 minutes during registration twice weekly; designated literacy lesson reading for pleasure in the library; House events, such as inter-house speaking; and within school and outside of school competitions, including maths challenge ****. Making sure that students master the basics of English and mathematics is a focus to eliminate a barrier to learning within a wide range of subjects. We promote reading through: fortnightly library lessons, weekly reading during registration, class readers, and through Accelerated Reader to challenge students to reach a higher level. Where students join the school below the expected standard, and are not making sufficient progress towards the expected standards, we alter their curriculum provision. A range of strategies are used to improve literacy skills, for example: Lexia; targeted withdrawal from some lessons for extra work on their skills development such as spelling; paired reading during registration; help with English and maths evening for parents; use of the STAR reading test to ensure that they are reading at an appropriate level. We are soon to embark upon two additional projects, the Think Reading project to improve the reading ability of students who have a reading age of 3 or more years below their chronological reading age and Lexonik as an extra boost to secure student’s phonics skills. For a minority of students, intervention means that they do not study a language. We assess the need for this from the KS2 scores in addition to internally administered reading age tests and other assessments. In addition, students are encouraged to read for a minimum of 20 minutes each day outside of school to ensure best progress. However, despite a prominent focus within all year groups, Maths and English are not dominant at the expense of all else.


Science spirals into Science Trilogy or Triple Science (three separate sciences – biology, chemistry, physics). We acknowledge the volume of the new GCSE courses – making it unwise to run Triple Science within the allocated time for science. Therefore, Triple Science is selected as an option. Additional time, 2 lessons, are also allocated to Science in Y11 as opposed to focusing curricular time in this imperative year on subjects that are not examined.


We are committed to Languages as part of a broad and balanced curriculum at KS4; this commitment ensures the majority of our students undertake a language at GCSE. From September 2019, in order to give students a solid foundation of learning they are allocated a favourable amount of time at KS3 to learn one of two languages (French and Spanish) instead of learning multiple languages to a mediocre standard. Personal choice is facilitated prior to students embarking upon their studies at the school in Y7. A second language is possible at GCSE for students through the options process. Languages is a strong area for our staff and Latin is studied by some students outside of curriculum time and will continue if we can afford to sustain the staffing. To support the curriculum languages is supported through the House System Inter-house languages competition and through exchanges to France and Spain.

Humanities (Geography and History)

Geography and History are taught at KS3 as discrete specialist subjects. Although they have not been a compulsory option for all, over half of our students opt for either or both of the subjects at GCSE. Uptake of a humanities will be facilitated this year by students, who did not study an MFL subject at KS3 or GCSE, studying a humanity to ensure they receive a breadth of curriculum; thus ensuring their future options are not disadvantaged.

Physical Education

We are committed to the health and well-being of our students. We follow governmental guidance in providing the recommended minimum of two hours each week for all of our students at KS3. At KS4 we allocate 3 hours a fortnight in order to support their progress and attainment within qualification to aid their future choices in education, training and employment. In addition to this core entitlement, students can opt for GCSE PE or Level 1/Level 2 Cambridge National Certificate in Sport Science. Opportunities for students to become physically confident in a way which supports their health and fitness is facilitated through an extensive range of extra-curricular activities and House events.

Personal, Social, Health, Economic and Citizenship

This is an extremely important part of our curriculum in all key stages; it develops students into more rounded individuals who can contribute to society. It is for this reason that it is too important to be delivered by tutors during registration time or in drop-down days. We have a comprehensive programme delivered weekly by Progress Tutors and other professionals from within and outside of the school. This formal programme is supported by an additional 20 minutes each week during morning registration.

Religious Education

We are supportive in developing students’ knowledge and understanding of religious and non-religious beliefs to prepare for life in a pluralistic and global society. It is taught to all students at Key Stages 3 and 4. It is a statutory requirement for students to study Religious Education at Key Stage 4. RE is taught in 39 hours and averages one lesson per fortnight in this Key Stage, although it is front loaded in Year 10.. However, RE can also be taken as a GCSE option by those who choose it and will be taught across Y10 and Y11.

iCreate subjects (Art, Drama and Music)

Creative subjects are a vital as part of the curriculum at KS3 and spiral into GCSEs (Art, Drama and Music) or Technical Awards (Performing Arts). They serve to increase student’s self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement. A wide range of school events, including house events, enable students to continue to explore their creativity through extra-curricular activities within all key stages supplementary to their formal curriculum.

Information Technology/Computing

Within today’s digital world we have remained committed to providing students with a solid grounding in computing and computer science at KS3. Their formal learning can be supplemented with extra-curricular activities in coding and enterprise. At KS4 students have the option to study GCSE Computer Science or Digital Information Technology BTec Technical Award and the

Technology subjects

Students undertake a carousel of technology subjects, including Computing throughout the Years 7 and 8. Food and Nutrition is delivered in addition to this carousel, see below. There are 5 groups in each year half, to allow for smaller classes for health and safety in workshops. The subject carousel means that students (and probably teachers) will change subjects in Technology as they study Electronics, Engineering, Graphics, Materials, Photography, Product Design and Textiles. Within Y9, students opt to study three technology subjects along with food to gain a more indepth experience of a subject before deciding upon the subjects to study at Key Stage 4.

Food & Nutrition

We are commited to the health and well-being of our students. We promote the government’s ‘pro-food’ ethos in school as food is an integral part of student’s health, well-being and attainment. The subject is taught on a fortnightly basis within KS3 and KS4. The concepts of healthy eating is supplemented with PSHE lessons and Inter-House events. At KS4 students can opt to study Food Preparation & Nutrition at GCSE or Hospitality & Catering Level 1/Level 2 Award.

Curriculum Management

KS3 (Years 7-9)

KS3 subjects belong to one of the following Curriculum Areas:

English Maths Science MFL Humanities
English Language
English Literature
Mathematics Science French
Religious Education
iCreate B.I.T.E. Social Science Technology PSHE
Performing Arts
Information Technology/ Computing
Computer Science
Design & Technology: Materials
Design & Technology: Graphics
Food & Nutrition
Hospitality & Catering
Product Design
Personal Social Health and Economic education, including Relationship and Sexuality Education
British Values
Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural education

KS4 (Years 10 & 11)

KS4 qualifications belong to one of the following Curriculum Areas:

English Maths Science MFL Humanities
GCSE English Language
GCSE English Literature
Step Up to English
GCSE Mathematics
GCSE Statistics
Edexcel Awards in Number and Measure
Edexcel Award in Statistical Methods
Edexcel Award in Algebra
GCSE Combined Science Trilogy
GCSE Triple Science (separate Biology, Chemistry and Physics)
GCSE French
GCSE German
GCSE Spanish
GCSE Latin
GCSE Geography
GCSE History
GCSE Religious Education
Core Religious Education (Non-examined)
iCreate B.I.T.E. Social Science Technology PSHE
GCSE Dance
GCSE Drama
GCSE Media Studies
GCSE Music
Performing Arts Tech Award
GCSE Physical Education
Core Physical Education (Non-examined)
GCSE Business Studies
GCSE Computer Science
Information Technologies
GCSE Economics
Enterprise Tech Award
GCSE Sociology
GCSE Psychology
GCSE Design & Technology (Materials)
GCSE Design & Technology (Graphics)
GCSE Electronics
GCSE Engineering
Engineering Tech Award
GCSE Food & Nutrition
Level 1/Level 2 Hospitality & Catering
GCSE Textiles
Personal Social Health and Economic education, including Relationship and Sexuality Education
British Values
Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural education

KS5 (Years 12 & 13)

KS5 qualifications belong to one of the following Curriculum Areas:

English Maths Science MFL Humanities
A Level English Language
A Level English Literature
A Level English Language & Literature
A Level Mathematics
A Level Further Mathematics
Core Mathematics
Step Mathematics
A Level Biology
A Level Chemistry
A Level Physics
A Level Environmental Science
A Level French
A Level German
A Level Spanish
A Level Geography
A Level History
A Level Religious Education
iCreate B.I.T.E. Social Science Technology PSHE
A Level Art
A Level Drama & Theatre Studies
A Level Media Studies
A Level Music
BTec Music Subsidiary Diploma
BTec Performing Arts Extended Certificate
BTec Performing Arts Subsidiary Diploma
A Level Physical Education
A Level Business Studies
A Level Computer Science
A Level Economics
A Level Government & Politics
Cambridge Technical Extended Certificate Health & Social Care
A Level Law
A Level Sociology
A Level Psychology
The Extended Project Qualification
A Level Graphics
A Level Electronics
BTec Engineering Extended Certificate
Level 3 Food Science & Nutrition
A Level Photography
A Level Product Design
A Level Textiles
Personal Social Health and Economic education, including Relationship and Sexuality Education
British Values
Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural education

Curriculum for 2018/19

We facilitate a broad and balanced curriculum in all key stages. The number of hours allocated to each subject varies in Key Stages 3 and 4 due to greater emphasis on the importance of English, Mathematics and Science post-16. However, we are commited to improving student’s knowledge within a broad range of subjects, spanning the Arts, Humanites, Languages and Technology.

Key Stage 3 Curriculum 2018/19 (Years 7-9)

At Key Stage 3, all students study Art, Computing, Drama, English, Food, Geography, History, a Modern Foreign Language, Mathematics, Music, Physical Education, Personal Social Health Economic education and Citizenship, Religious Education, Science and Technology.