We are proud of the curriculum we provide for all year groups at Lymm High School. It is something that senior leaders and governors take very seriously and is constantly reviewed to ensure that it best meets the needs of all of our students.
This page provides a brief outline of the curriculum model we operate. For more details of the specific content covered in each subject, at each key stage, please visit the individual subject pages on the curriculum section of our website. The website also contain details of exams and assessment and our new KS3 reporting system.
A combination of budget pressures and worries about school accountability measures at KS4 means that it is becoming increasingly common to see creative and technical subjects being squeezed out of the KS3 curriculum. However, at Lymm High School we place a very high value on these subjects in terms of their impact on young people’s lives and we pride ourselves on maintaining a broad and balanced, three year KS3 curriculum.
Therefore, all students study English, Maths, Science, French, History, Geography, RS, PE and ICT/Computing but, in addition, we provide a broad performing arts offer for all students that includes Drama, Dance and Music as well as lessons in Art, Food and Design Technology
These timetabled lessons are supplemented by an outstanding range of activities to promote social, moral, spiritual and cultural (SMSC) education, including our “Life” programme, which covers important issues in personal, social and health education as well as British Values.
The majority of students study a second language (either Spanish or German) alongside French during Years 8 and 9. In addition, students on our Scholars Programme have the opportunity to study Latin.
Some students will also be withdrawn, as appropriate, for focussed short term numeracy and literacy interventions. This includes extra support through our ‘Catch Up’ and ‘Upgrade’ programmes and other SEND interventions such as withdrawal to work on Lucid and IDL cloud programmes as well as paired reading schemes.
Challenge in the curriculum
We believe all students should have access to a rigorous academic curriculum and are committed to providing our students with a challenging curriculum offer, where expectations are high and which enables them to realise their full potential.
We have produced our own assessment and tracking system, with a ‘flight path’ model being used to track progress throughout KS3. Aspirational targets are set equating to progress in at least the top 20% of schools and students nationally. KS3 assessment criteria have been carefully written to ensure greater challenge and to enable smooth progression to GCSE assessment in due course.
Schemes of work at KS3 were reviewed and re-written to coincide with the move to this new assessment and reporting system. Departments were asked to look for every opportunity to increase expectations and challenge: for example, the texts taught in KS3 English are more challenging than ever after the introduction of more Shakespeare and more pre-twentieth century texts; Maths have also changed their programmes of study to reflect the changes to a more challenging curriculum with increased content; and Languages and Humanities have deliberately introduced questions from old GCSE papers into their KS3 assessments.
We have worked closely with our partner primaries in ensuring students’ transition to Lymm enables them to start work in Year 7 at the same level of challenge as that which they were tackling at the end of primary school. English and Maths staff have spent time in our partner primaries and have subsequently trained their colleagues to ensure KS3 teaching is appropriately pitched. Primary colleagues have also spent time in Lymm High School looking at the curriculum and we have plans to develop these kinds of links further.
We are introducing a major new initiative in the summer of 2017 (‘Take it Further’) which will further increase levels of differentiation and ambition in the classroom. Finally, we provide many additional opportunities and levels of challenge to enable our most academically able students to Exceed and Excel. This includes our Scholars Programme which builds aspiration and enables confidence and agency on the part of these students – and includes places especially reserved for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Students choose options in Year 9 to start in Year 10. They are guided through this choices process via informative assemblies, a comprehensive ‘Choices’ booklet and guidance interviews with staff (SEND students who require particular support and students eligible for the Pupil Premium are seen individually by members of the senior leadership team or our SENCO to talk through the process and ensure the most appropriate subjects are selected.)
Our curriculum offer is robust and challenging and courses are carefully selected. Early each year we look at the range of courses on offer to make sure that they:
- Are worthwhile courses in their own right – i.e. they are interesting and rewarding to study
- Lead to rigorous, high values qualifications that enable clear transition pathways to the next
stage of education
- Meet a range of students’ needs
- Can be well-taught by staff available with the appropriate qualifications and experience
All KS4 students study English (Language and Literature), Maths, Science, PE and the Life Programme (which includes religious education). In addition, they can choose from the following range of option subjects.
Top sets in Year 11 maths also take the Further Maths GCSE. This additional qualification is an excellent grounding for A’ level maths.
Selected SEND students will take a ‘Study Plus’ where they have curriculum where they gain additional support in literacy and numeracy as well as in the study of their other subjects.
Some students also study the additional qualification of Statistics. This is aimed at those Year 11 students who are at risk of not getting 5 A*-CEM grades. Whilst this is no longer a performance measure, it is still an entry requirement for local sixth form colleges and therefore Statistics is a very valuable option for a small number of specially selected students.
In consultation with our governing body, we have decided not to make the English Baccalaureate compulsory. We do insist that the vast majority of our students take at least one English Baccalaureate subject, to ensure they have a sufficiently rigorous suite of qualifications. However, we do not believe is right – or necessary – to insist all students are forced to take a second Ebacc subject if they and their parents do not want to. Until there is any evidence that such an approach disadvantages young people in terms of pathways available to them in the future, we will stick to our principles here.
Similarly, we have also been careful to discuss what subjects we should offer in the so-called ‘Open Bucket’ and have made a conscious decision that all subjects offered here are in the best interests of our students: they are robust and valid qualifications of high quality that will provide rigour and challenge for our students and enable quality transition pathways. We have deliberately avoided searching for courses that might be easier for students to pass and would benefit the school in terms of published performance measure, but which are not of sufficiently high value in terms of students’ future pathways.
All Year 11 students all have an individual guidance interview leading into their sixth form study, as well as special assemblies, an open evening, careers evening and various other transition events to ensure they make the right choices for them.
Most students choose three A’ levels or equivalent, with some being given the option of studying four. We also have a Level 2 qualification in the sixth form to meet the needs of a very specific group of students, as well as classes in English and Maths for students who are retaking.
We are fortunate to be able to offer a very wide range of A’ level and BTEC courses, enabling students to go on to the most appropriate further education or training in the next stage of their lives. As with KS4, we are very careful to ensure that all the qualifications we offer are rigorous, of high quality and with clear progression routes at the end.
As with KS3 and KS4, all students also take part in our ‘Life’ programme where they study important personal, social and health issues as well as those relating to British values.
In addition, the Gateway Programme is highly successful in providing the highest quality mentoring and support for students in their higher education aspirations. We also offer a specific programme for students aspiring to Oxbridge, working closely with these two institutions.
We are exceptionally proud of our Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance programme. Our NEET figures are remarkably low: just 1% for each of the last few years at aged 16 and even lower for those leaving our sixth form, suggests that all of the work we do on CEIAG is having a very positive impact. They are also testimony to the impact of our carefully considered curriculum, enabling as it does clear and strong pathways at each point of transition.
Our extra curriculum provision is outstanding. Students have access to a huge variety of trips and enrichment opportunities and participation figures are high. For us, this is an essential part of a high quality post-16 education – not just a ‘nice to have’ add-on – and we work hard to maintain the quality and breadth of this programme.
Finally, our ‘Values and Ethos in Action’ document demonstrates our determination to enable our students to develop as ‘socially responsible citizens’, and points to the huge range of opportunities we provide in order to facilitate this.