The curriculum at Westgate’s Upper School is uniquely shaped by the breadth of expertise available in its all-through setting. We believe that the curriculum should enable all pupils to develop the knowledge, skills and competencies needed for a successful future therefore, it is designed to provide learners with a rich experience of different subjects and learning opportunities.
The Westgate School’s curriculum reflects two principles: firstly, of acquisition – where pupils are taught to acquire the knowledge, understanding and skills in each subject domain in order to apply this learning to new situations; and secondly, participation – that pupils need to develop the skills to engage positively in different situations. In doing so, pupils further their learning and sense of belonging. In some subjects, such as Science, the emphasis lies more heavily on the acquisition of knowledge whereas in a subject such as Drama, the skills of participation pre-dominate. In every lesson we expect adults to consider how best to facilitate pupils’ active participation in their learning – including “thinking hard” – and, to use the School’s core approach to teaching and learning so that pupils experience a coherent learning journey.
In every subject, leaders are designing and evolving their curriculums based on the golden threads of learning from Year R to Year 11 in their particular domain. Planning is based on clear objectives, using misconceptions as opportunities for rich learning and, facilitating greater depth in pupils’ knowledge rather than greater curriculum coverage. The specified curriculum is based on the National Curriculum and KS4 syllabi however, the School believes strongly in ensuring that the ‘hidden curriculum’ – how pupils learn about themselves and society in the way that we organise ourselves as a school – has a positive impact on the individual child. We strongly believe that access to cultural capital is an entitlement of every pupil, and we are regularly reviewing our curriculum to increase opportunities to access learning about different cultures and diversity. We also have a specified ‘Wellbeing Curriculum’, which sets out the universal provision for all pupils, and we are developing our practice to facilitate even greater inclusion in extra-curricular provision in school. Moreover, as part of our ongoing learning, we involve pupils proactively in curriculum development through our received curriculum reviews and, our pupil leadership groups.
At The Westgate School our curriculum is not intended to lead learners to fulfil their potential: our intention is to unlock the individual’s potential and to equip them with the knowledge and skills to be able to learn in different situations throughout their lives.
Please click here to view the Curriculum Intent.
Deep Learning and Discovery Days
We have four Deep Learning and two Discovery Days each year.
During these days the timetable is adjusted to allow pupils to be immersed for a whole day in a specific area of learning that may be linked to their GCSE option choices, or may follow a whole school theme. During Deep Learning Days, it is not unusual to see older pupils working with younger pupils or indeed, learning in different settings and benefiting from the rich learning that our setting has to offer.
Discovery Days are more open ended and are designed to give our pupils an opportunity to explore a different aspect of the world around them. The two days are often planned for the last full days of the Summer Term and are themed around a broad focus. In 2020 the focus is Different Cultures. During these days we will be exploring cultures from around the world as well as celebrating multiculturalism in our own community.
All these extended learning opportunities will help pupils to develop skills such as team work and communication.
Year 7 and 8 Curriculum
In Years 7 and 8 (Key Stage 3) pupils follow a balanced curriculum including the core subjects of English, Maths and Science alongside a wide range of Foundation subjects. In English and Maths the curriculum builds on the core skills that pupils will have learnt at Primary school, extending their experience and application of these skills to a deeper level in readiness for the challenges of Key Stage 4 (Years 9 to 11). In Science, the focus is on enquiry led learning, linking scientific exploration with real world examples and drawing together a number of strands in scientific thinking from biology, chemistry and physics that enables learners to see the relevance to every day life.
Strong partnerships with our linked primary schools mean that all pupils, regardless of where they attended primary education, will experience a curriculum in these core subjects that builds on their prior learning to ensure that rapid and sustained progress is made throughout Key Stage 3. High quality teaching means that at The Westgate, we recognise that young people’s talents and challenges vary across subjects and therefore, whether an individual needs individual support or greater extension, we are able to respond to this through our curriculum design and delivery.
In addition to the core subjects, our curriculum includes discrete teaching in History and Geography, and the combined teaching of Citizenship, PSHE and Religious Education. Modern Foreign Languages, the Arts, Technology, Digital Studies and Physical Education are all part of the weekly timetable and delivered in purposefully designed teaching areas that maximise learning opportunities. We have specialist teachers in all subject areas whose enthusiasm for their subject resonates through the Units of Enquiry that pupils
experience in Key Stage 3.
Please click here to view the KS3 subjects.
Please click here to view the Year 8 Options leaflet
Years 9 - 11 Curriculum
In recognition of the strong progress made by pupils at The Westgate throughout Key Stage 3, we begin our Key Stage 4 curriculum from Year 9. Careful planning of the timetable and options process allows us to increase the range of subjects from which pupils can choose for Year 9, before making a gradual reduction in the number of subjects taken in Year 10 according to the individual’s strengths, interests and in consultation with parents and pupils.
The Year 9 curriculum is characterised by broader opportunities for pupils to experience new subjects such as Photography, Media Studies and Sculpture as discrete option subjects. Meanwhile, the great majority of pupils will continue their learning in Humanities, MFL and Arts subjects to ensure a broad and balanced curriculum is experienced.
Where appropriate, some subjects will begin teaching some of the GCSE specification content during Year 9, using the opportunity to broaden pupils’ experiences of the subject matter and therefore, enabling a richer learning experience. This is the case for example in Year 9 English where pupils undertake an extended study for ‘Macbeth’ (a GCSE text) having already read at least two other Shakespeare plays in Years 7 and 8.
By the end of Year 9, pupils will have a second opportunity to focus their learning as they choose their subjects for examination entry. Again, we expect all pupils to continue with a Modern Foreign Language and we strongly encourage pupils to consider a subject in Humanities because alongside a range of other subject disciplines, qualifications in these disciplines are a sound foundation for post-16 learning. The school takes a varied approach to the organisation of teaching groups to ensure that the challenges of learning in different disciplines are effectively met.
Throughout Years 9 to 11, Maths and Science will focus on the GCSE syllabi and a choice of either Double or Triple Sciences. Pupils who are achieving highly in Maths will have the opportunity to achieve greater depth in their learning with aspects of statistics included in the schemes of work. Nearly all pupils will take GCSE English and Literature in our school as part of their core provision. Where pupils have particular interests in Music or sport for example, the school provides ample opportunities for them to pursue their interests even if not taken as an examination subject. We actively promote these opportunities in our school and are keen to celebrate the achievements of our pupils in their participation of these additional learning opportunities. Our thriving extra-curricular music and sports programmes in which a great majority of pupils participate, are a key part of the all-through school provision, facilitating rich learning opportunities where younger and older pupils are working in partnership and learning together.