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Our Curriculum

At Birchwood, we believe that every student deserves to have thoughtful, purposeful and enjoyable lessons throughout their time at school and across all of their subjects. This is why we follow a curriculum that is ‘knowledge-rich’. This means that all lessons include information that has been carefully selected and deemed to be of the highest importance. All lessons link together so that all of the content to which students are exposed is vital and part of a bigger sequence. Essentially, the curriculum has been carefully designed so that students build on key concepts during each year of study. With this approach, by the time they leave Birchwood, students will have encountered a range of valuable and inspirational learning material- this will empower them to approach their future with confidence and integrity.

As well as developing the academic experience of students, the curriculum has been created to create numerous opportunities for personal enrichment. We believe that a truly brilliant education, as well as equipping students with scholarly knowledge, guides them to be kind, responsible citizens who do not settle for easy answers. By constructing our curriculum in this way, we believe that our students will gain a vast bank of knowledge that will ultimately help them to develop and thrive- both as scholars and as people.

Most Able

‘The quantity and quality of what children know is, I believe, the most important difference between them. Those who know more are, on average, cleverer than those who know less. Although we might perceive some children to be more ‘able’ than others, this is unimportant because there’s not really anything we can do about it. We can, however, do an awful lot about developing the quality of what children know. This perspective, which puts knowledge at the heart of what it means to put knowledge at the heart of what it means to be clever, offers both hope and clear way forward.’ Didau, D (2019)

At Birchwood Community High School, we fundamentally believe that all children deserve to be exposed to the highest quality and most challenging resources and that every scheme of work should be constructed to demand more from the most able students. We also believe that all children, regardless of perceptions about ability, should be given the opportunity to engage in enriching experiences that builds on the work that they complete in their lessons to help them to develop a broader pool of culturally significant knowledge.

Much of the research conducted around this area suggests that investing time and thought into constructing a thoughtful curriculum that puts powerful knowledge at the forefront and supports students in revisiting key ideas, is the most effective strategy in nurturing the most able students. For this reason, the content of the curriculum we offer in each subject has been designed to challenge the most able students across all year groups and sequenced in a way that supports students in retaining key knowledge. To ensure that all students are appropriately challenged and to give all students the necessary knowledge to be able to work up to being part of the most able group, the content of each scheme of work is not altered-instead the way in which this is delivered to students is adapted to ensure that all students are able to access what is being taught.

To further support this philosophy, research groups run throughout the year to enable all teaching staff to consider key research around creating challenging curriculums and to think carefully about the construction of the lessons themselves to ensure that schemes of work are designed to be ambitious for the most able students.

Finally, we understand the importance of providing enriching experiences beyond the curriculum to further enhance students’ knowledge and cultural capital. For this reason, we offer the opportunity for all students to on at least three trips per year which are designed to build on the powerful ideas taught in lessons and to encourage them to view complex ideas in a real-world context.

Key Stage 3 (years 7, 8 and 9)

There is a broad and balanced diet where all students access the academic subjects of English, maths, science, computing, EPR, French, Spanish, history and geography. We also place high value on our creative, practical and performing arts subjects – textiles, art, engineering, drama, food and nutrition, and music for every student

Part of our KS3 provision is our RSVP to Success which sees every student, each year, accessing a range of social, cultural and community activities.

Key Stage 4 (Years 10 and 11)

From Year 10, students will follow the subjects that they have chosen in the latter half of year 9. All pupils study GCSEs in English Language, English Literature, maths, science and either history, geography, French, Spanish or computer science. Students choose 3 subjects from a range of GCSE and BTEC qualifications with support and guidance from school and home. We have an extensive careers programme in school and our own dedicated careers advisor to support our students in thinking ahead and to plan for their future. We also hold an options day and a taster week for all year 9 students before they decide on their choices.

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