Curriculum Intent and Vision

At Smithills School we believe that every student is capable of excellence and we try to encourage every student to push themselves and achieve their potential. We aim to set high standards for all our students, based on our vision of a curriculum that provides ‘Academic Excellence: Rich in Opportunity’ for all.  The curriculum is designed to reflect the core values and ethos of the school:


  • Ambition

  • Stewardship

  • Positivity

  • Involvement

  • Resilience

  • Empathy 


We aim to help students to develop their gifts and talents: spiritual and social; intellectual and emotional; aesthetic and physical through the provision of a broad and balanced curriculum, which is responsive to, and supportive of, their needs and aspirations, fosters intellectual curiosity and academic achievement and motivates them to grow to their full potential.  The curriculum is academically challenging and relies upon a number of rigorous GCSEs with vocational options available for an appropriate number of students. 


Curriculum Principles


·       To be compatible with the requirements of the National Curriculum at Key Stage 3.

·       To ensure that students study for an academically rigorous curriculum with as wide a range of academic GCSEs as is appropriate. 

·       To be broad and balanced throughout each Key Stage. 

·       To allow progression between and through the Key Stages. 

·       To offer flexibility at Key Stages 3 and 4, by allowing for the needs of the individual to be met, as far as is reasonably possible. 

·       To provide for the personal, social, health and citizenship education of students including the preparation of students for the opportunities,                   responsibilities and experiences of adult life. 

·       To provide appropriate careers education and guidance and the opportunity for students to keep career pathways open. 

·       To provide a variety of extra-curricular activities and opportunities. 

·       To enable all students to learn and make progress. 

·       We use the 1-9 grading criteria throughout KS3 and KS4; this helps parents and students to understand the progress they are making throughout             their time at Smithills School.


The Curriculum at Key Stage 3

We have a broad KS3 Curriculum covering over sixteen subjects. Subjects are taught during fifty hours of contact time over two weeks, each lesson lasting sixty minutes.

The Curriculum includes:


Further opportunity is given for the personalisation of the curriculum for those who require additional support with literacy and numeracy. 


Key Points:


  • Students are set according to ability. 

  • Oracy has been introduced to develop and promote students’ cultural capital and social mobility. Speaking and listening is ‘essential to children’s thinking and learning, and to the productive engagement in classroom life.’ (Robin Alexander, presentation to the DfE, 2012).  Students undertake a LAMDA qualification at the end of year 8. 

  • Year 9 follow the same core subjects outlined above.  Additional rigour and challenge is provided as they also have the opportunity to specialise in a specific area of interest, selecting one option from a range of ten which include: Performing Arts, Creative Arts (including Hair and Beauty and Health and Social Care) and Computer Science. This option can be studied to level 1 or level 2 qualification. A video and leaflet outlining option choices is provided for pupils and parents prior to Year 8 Parents’ Evening. 

  • Students will begin to study English Literature in Year 9 and will take their GCSE in English Literature in Year 10. This is to allow students an early experience of the full examination process and to increase the breadth of knowledge that they are able to retain in KS4. 

  • There is specialist tuition for students with a specific learning difficulty. 

  • Students who have a specific learning difficulty or low reading/literacy levels have access to a wide range of additional support in the Hub. 

  • Details of the arrangements for specialist support are contained in the Special Educational Needs Policy. 


The Curriculum at Key Stage 4

Our Key Stage 4 curriculum offers flexibility and choice within a guided structure.  It is broad so that pupils can experience a range of opportunities across the curriculum; balanced because it is unwise for pupils to narrow down their options before the age of 16; relevant to students individual needs and to the demands of a rapidly-changing world and personalised so that the level and type of work is suited to the ability and learning style of each individual. 


All students follow a core of subjects and select two additional subjects.  The curriculum is taught during fifty hours of contact time over two weeks, each lesson lasting sixty minutes.


Core Subjects:

   -    English: Literature and Language

   -    Mathematics

   -    Triple Science 

   -    Humanities: History or Geography

   -    Religious Education

   -    Physical Education

Optional Subjects:


Key Points: 


  • Students normally take eight or nine GCSEs.  There is, however, flexibility to take fewer subjects for those students for whom this is not appropriate. 

  • Wherever possible students are set according to ability.

  • In Key Stage 4, pupils have enhanced time for core subjects: English, Maths and Science.

  • Depending on the needs of students courses are offered at GCSE, V-Cert, Btec and entry level.

  • As a multicultural school, which welcomes and celebrates a myriad of different ethnicities, it is important that students study Religious Education; providing them with a clear understanding and appreciation of the values, faiths and cultures of others.

  • Where available there is the option for pupils to sit a GCSE in their home language. 

  • The time for PE recognises and promotes the importance of health and fitness.

  • The personal and social development of students is the responsibility of all staff. However, the PSHE programme is delivered predominantly through the Form Tutor in Session Zero.

  • All students receive additional English and Maths support during Session Zero and there are after school intervention sessions.  

  • Learning Services provides additional support for those on the SEND register. There is also daily support for homework in the Hub.

  • Details of the Key Stage 4 curriculum are published annually on the school website.  A GCSE booklet and video is also published for Year 9 students and their parents during the Spring Term prior to the Year 9 Parents’ Evening. 

            © Copyright 2020 Smithills School. All rights reserved.

Developed and maintained by the Smithills Media and Digital Team.