Curriculum

Introduction

Didcot Girls’ School operates a two-week timetable with 48 hours of taught lessons throughout week A and week B. The school closes to students at 2.15 pm every Friday which allows for an hour of dedicated curriculum development time every week.  

Students benefit from extended student guidance time throughout their time at Didcot Girls’ School. From 8.45am-9.15am, students in years 7-10 complete a rotation of activities across a term, including: ethos activities, guided reading of a challenging text, study skills, discussion skills and assemblies. In Year 11, this time is dedicated to work on careers, personal development, online learning and assemblies. Students of all ages also frequently use this time to take part in subject specific interventions or to benefit from the Advanced Learners programme.

Our five-year curriculum is designed to be ambitious and give all learners the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life. At Didcot Girls’ School we believe that a carefully planned and structured curriculum is the foundation upon which excellent learning and development is built. The curriculum is designed and implemented in such a way that it builds on prior knowledge and prepares pupils for the next stage in their education.  Our teachers are experts, and we value each subject and its set of essential ideas, facts, stories and concepts which comprise the knowledge we deliver to students.  Our curriculum planning interweaves subject specific skills and ensures that students build on what they have previously learned.  We have ensured that our Key Stage 3 curriculum is of similar ambition and breadth to the national curriculum.

Students receive excellent information and guidance when selecting their options. Most students choose to study 4 option subjects. Around 50% of students are entered for the English Baccalaureate* each year. Disadvantaged and SEND students are encouraged to opt for challenging pathways.

Subject Leaders carefully construct a curriculum that promotes a deep understanding of a wide range of topics. Teachers plan learning that allows pupils to embed and recall knowledge through techniques such as careful sequencing, modelling, and retrieval practice. This builds firm foundations for progression to the next level and exam success.

*The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is a performance measure showing the proportion of students who achieve a Grade 4 or more in English, maths, a science, history or geography and a language.

Support for learning

Disadvantaged students, and those with SEND, are at the centre of our curriculum thinking and planning. In particular, we ensure that our curriculum meets the needs of vulnerable learners (includes disadvantaged, SEND or Young Carer students) by: 

  • prioritising the knowledge and skills that will enhance the cultural capital of these students 
  • deliberately teaching tier 3 vocabulary in each subject area 
  • emphasising the outward-facing and global dimension to our curriculum 
  • designing our curriculum in such a way that it benefits all students and disproportionately benefits vulnerable learners. Elements of this curriculum design include: careful sequencing of knowledge and skills; quizzing and other methods to ensure the retention of knowledge over time; deliberate practice of key skills. 
  • deliberately tilting systems and structures in their favour e.g. hands-down questioning, marking books and intervention

 

Subject allocation for each year group is as follows (numbers given are hours per fortnight):

Key Stage 3 - Years 7 & 8 in 2019/20

All students in Years 7 & 8 follow a broad and balanced curriculum, studying:

Year 7

Subject Hours per fortnight Comments
English 6  
Mathematics 6  
Science 6  
History 4  
Geography 3  
Religious Education 2  
Technology/Computer Science/Dance 4

Includes, Textiles, Resistant Materials, Computing and Dance.

Students rotate through a carousel structure

Modern Foreign Language (MFL) 4 Students rotate through a carousel of French, German, Spanish and Mandarin. A small cohort study for the Mandarin excellence programme 8 hours per fortnight.
Art 3  
Music 2  
Physical Education 4  
Drama 2  
Personal Development 2  

Year 8

Subject Hours per fortnight Comments
English 6  
Mathematics 6  
Science 6  
History 3  
Geography 3  
Religious Education 2  
Technology/Computer Science/Dance 4

Includes Textiles, Resistant Materials, Computing and Dance.

Students rotate through a carousel structure.

Modern Foreign Language (MFL) 4 Students rotate through a carousel of French, German, Spanish, and Mandarin. A small cohort study for the Mandarin excellence programme 8 hours a fortnight.
Art 3  
Music 2  
Physical Education 5  
Drama 2  
Personal Development 2  

Setting in Years 7 & 8

In Year 7, students are taught in set classes in Mathematics. These sets are determined by KS2 data, internal assessment and class work. Regular assessments inform changes of class according to individual student educational need.

In all other subjects, students are taught in mixed attainment groups.

Key stage 4 - Year 9 & Year 10 in 2019/20

Students start their GCSE courses in Year 9 and so begin to follow the requirements of the individual subject specifications.

All students study:

Subject Hours per fortnight Comments
English and English Literature 8  
Mathematics 8  
Science 10/12*

Combined and Single Science GCSEs offered.

*Single Science hours

Option subjects 4 per subject (16) Each option subject receives 4 hours per fortnight. Students 'opt' for four subjects with bespoke guidance to ensure that a balanced curriculum maintained.
Personal Development 2  
Physical Education 4  

Key Stage 4 - Year 11 in 2019/20

Subject Hours per fortnight Comments
English and English Literature 8  
Mathematics 8  
Science 10/12*

Combined and Single Science GCSEs offered.

*Single Science hours

Option subjects 5 per subject (20) Each option subject receives 5 hours per fortnight.
Physical Education 2  

The Personal Development curriculum is delivered during extended student guidance time. 

The wide range of option choices encompasses both academic and vocational qualifications and allows for learning pathways both within and beyond Key Stage 4.

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