At the heart of the Didcot Girls’ School curriculum is our mission to “empower girls to become resilient and to fulfil their potential as future leaders,” ensuring we develop young women who are ambitious, able to find their voice in today’s world and break glass ceilings.
The curriculum also seeks to reflect the values of the school, and our context as an all-girls’ school. It is inclusive and ambitious with high expectations, and aims to develop resilience and joy in our students. It also reflects and promotes modern British values such as tolerance and respect and aims to adapt to a changing world.
Leadership, which we value as a distinct strength of the school, in our girls but also in our staff, shines through.
At Didcot Girls’ School we have a five-year curriculum delivered by subject specialists. The curriculum is broad, rich and ambitious and has been designed to ensure that students have the knowledge and skills they need to succeed later in life. In each subject we have identified threshold concepts and important core components and carefully considered how these are sequenced to ensure ambitious end points. A core principle is that there is no denial of knowledge for any student and that ambition is reflected regardless of prior attainment.
We ensure excellent curriculum progression, with the majority of subjects running through the curriculum on offer all the way from 11 to 18.
High quality careers experiences, education, information, advice and guidance is built into each Key stage to support students with their next steps.
The curriculum builds students’ cultural capital within the context of the school through a strong emphasis on reading, building vocabulary, a structure which incorporates global and outward-facing dimensions and a broad range of cultural visits which extend students’ horizons.
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, subject specific curriculum development time every week.
The wider curriculum
The wider curriculum is equally carefully sequenced and structured to ensure young people have the character and skills they need to be successful, well-rounded individuals.
Personal Development and Citizenship
We recognise the importance of these subjects and as such they are taught through discrete, timetabled lessons in Years 7-10 and through Student Guidance Time and assemblies in Year 11.
Students follow a broad and well-planned curriculum which covers topics such as Relationships, Health and Sex Education including issues such as sexual harassment and image based sexual abuse, online safety, careers, mental health and wellbeing and life in modern Britain. Careers provision is a strength of the school and we meet all of the Gatsby Benchmarks. The school careers provision has been recognised by the Careers & Enterprise Company with an award for the promotion of challenging work experience placements. The school also has extensive careers links with the wider community including a well-established careers mentoring scheme.
Student Guidance Time
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 planned programme of ethos activities, guided reading of a challenging text, study skills, discussion work and assemblies all of which link to our core school values of respect, inclusivity and high expectations. This time is also used to facilitate access for all students to enrichment activities such as the school orchestra and Young Voices.
In Year 11, this time is used for careers education, a dedicated personal development programme and to deepen independent learning skills in preparation for Key Stage 5.
Students of all ages also frequently use this time to take part in subject specific interventions or to benefit from the Advanced Learner programme, a specific curriculum designed to stretch and challenge the most able.
The Leadership Ladder is an entitlement for Year 7 to Year 10 students, and we expect every student to undertake this exciting leadership journey with us. The ladder itself is based on the values we privilege and cherish; from resilience and courage to creativity, compassion, and teamwork. From these values we create a full range of eclectic opportunities for young people to embrace and enjoy.
There are over 40 clubs and activities each term on offer. This includes an award-winning STEM club with close links with Harwell and Culham Science Parks, an extensive range of sporting opportunities, creative and performing arts and a dedicated Patron of Reading to inspire students to embrace literature.
We recognise that quality first teaching will have the greatest impact on all students and most especially students with additional needs or those who are disadvantaged. We use a range of strategies such as those listed below to ensure all students are challenged and supported to achieve their potential.
- Highly intentional processes in each subject which identify the most effective ways to teach threshold concepts in each unit.
- Careful use of retrieval to interrupt the forgetting and ensure concepts can be retaught
- Students, regardless of ability or need, are supported to be working hard and thinking hard in all lessons
- Deliberate modelling and gradual release
- Targeted questioning to check for understanding, often using no hands up
- Chunking information to reduce cognitive load
- Dual coding, using images to reinforce text
- Discrete and deliberate teaching and in class practice of Tier 2 and 3 vocabulary
- Reading material is carefully considered and appropriate for the reading ages in the class and the text is read aloud when appropriate
- Assessment is carefully designed and well-timed to ensure learning sticks
Targeted approaches will also be in place for some vulnerable learners such as deliberately tilting systems and structures in their favour e.g. hands-down questioning, careful seating arrangements, marking books and intervention
Bespoke approaches are also in place for a small number of students with additional needs where more individualised curriculum adaptations may be required.
Within the classroom we ensure that our “Brilliant Basics” provide a structure which ensures a calm and purposeful learning environment to ensure every student can access learning.
The impact of our curriculum is assessed in a variety of ways which include:
- Student outcomes
- Learning walks and Department reviews
- Work scrutiny
- Calendared curriculum conversations with subject leaders
- Uptake at Key Stage 4 and 5 and Key stage 5 destination tracking
- Extra-curricular attendance and Leadership Ladder data
- Student engagement (attitude to learning tracking through snapshot data)
- Monitoring and tracking of SEND and Disadvantaged student progress through Raising Achievement Panels
The impact of our curriculum is extremely strong, as seen through:
- Students who embody the values of the school community
- Excellent outcomes at GCSE and A level for all groups of students
- Outstanding behaviour for learning in all lessons
- Strong engagement in the wider curriculum as seen through our leadership ladder
- Excellent destinations data at Key Stage 5
- Excellent uptake of Ebacc subjects such as Humanities and MFL and flourishing Arts provision as seen through extracurricular engagement and subject uptake data.