Curriculum Overview

Our curriculum is more than the qualifications that students leave with, it’s about real-life experiences and opportunities.  We know that Handsworth matters and what it means to live in a place that is home to people from every corner of the world.

We believe that there are no limits to our ability to learn from each other.  We take, we adapt and we move forward.  Our students are ambitious, this is only matched by teachers who inspire intellectual curiosity and provide the skills and knowledge needed for students to understand what it means to be a historian, a scientist or a musician.  The rich knowledge that we acquire must challenge us, broaden our minds and our values.  We need to think deeply.  Learning at Holyhead is student-led, highly meta-cognitive, literacy-focused and inclusive

Intention:

  • To provide students with access to a broad and balanced curriculum that supports the concept of equal value and opportunities and that promotes personal development and meets individual needs.
  • To foster the skills, knowledge, creativity, character and cultural capital required to meet the needs of our community, promoting self-confidence and the ability to respect other people’s points of view.
  • To recognise the importance of a structured and coherent wider curriculum in developing the potential of our students and the ethos of high aspirations within our school.
  • To provide a high-quality provision, that promotes respect, responsibility and excellence for all of our students.  The curriculum is designed, along with our Careers Education and  Information Advice and Guidance programme (CEIAG), to enable a broad range of progression routes and personalised support to meet the needs of our learners.
  • To provide students with cultural capital through a wide range of experiences across (as well as outside of) subjects to ensure that they have been provided with experiences and knowledge of the world around them 
  • To design sequences of lessons which combine with our Personal Development Programme delivered by Form Tutors and that these closely align with our mission to ‘Teach What Matters’, a deliberate approach to ensure we address challenges that our students are likely to face and to give them the best possible chance of meeting their limitless potential.
  • To teach our students about the importance of British Values and democracy so that they may better understand their role in society and the economy and can act as active citizens in the local, national and global community
  • To provide a high-quality Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education, recognising that we are a school that is rich in diversity, history and academic success and to ensure that education is seen to develop the ‘whole person’
  • To invest in developing powerful relationships through our Positive Interaction Ethos and our curriculum offer reflects a broad range of opportunities, including those to participate in; awards, competitions and community projects.

We achieve fantastic examination outcomes! You can see on our website, we offer a broad range of
subjects who are amazing at developing knowledge.

Our wider curriculum is designed to meet the needs of our community and is focused on developing
skills, developing character and developing cultural capital.

Our Directors of Learning design sequences of lessons which combine with our Personal Development Programme delivered by Form Tutors. These closely align with our mission to ‘Teach What Matters’, a deliberate approach to ensure we address challenges that our students are likely to face and to give them the best possible chance of meeting their limitless potential.

We want all Holyhead students to be able to:

  • Solve problems
  • Apply knowledge to the real world
  • Adapt to change and be resilient to failure
  • Be aware of their own thought processes and memory (metacognition)
  • Be articulate and express themselves
  • Think critically

We want all students at Holyhead to be strong in relation to the following attributes:

  • Leadership
  • Organisation
  • Resilience
  • Initiative
  • Communication

Curriculum Plan – September 2021

We teach to a 4-period per day timetable, with each subject lesson lasting 75 minutes. We believe that this allows for a greater depth of learning and challenge within each lesson. Tutor time is 25 minutes long following subject lessons at the end of the day and is a crucial component for all year groups in the delivery of our Personal Development programme.

Key Stage 3

We provide a 3-year Key Stage 3 for our students in Year 7 through to Year 9. We believe this enables us to provide depth and breadth in our curriculum for our students, enabling them to make more informed decisions when they select their GCSE option choices midway through Year 9.

At Key Stage 3 students will be taught the following subjects:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Geography
  • History
  • Core Religious Studies
  • Modern Foreign Languages (French or Spanish)
  • Drama
  • Art and Design
  • Music
  • Food and Nutrition
  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Physical Education
  • PSHCE

In addition to this, we offer a wide variety of extra-curricular activities which we would encourage all of our students to participate in. The importance of these cannot be understated, as they enable our students to realise their fullest potential, helping students learn valuable social skills, leadership and how to cope with responsibility. Details of these can be found on the individual faculty pages.

Key Stage 4

Our Key Stage 4 curriculum offer is designed to ensure our students have access to a broad range of high quality qualifications which will provide them with the currency to move forward in their students post-16, whilst also meeting the requirements of national performance measures.

Progress and Attainment 8

Progress and Attainment 8 measures were introduced from 2016 and replaced the 5 A*-C (including English and Mathematics) performance measures that were used as the main headline in school performance tables nationally.

These measures are based on students’ attainment and progress measured across eight subjects: English; Mathematics; three other English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects (Sciences, Computer Science, Geography, History and Languages); and three further subjects, which can be from the range of EBacc subjects, or can be any other approved high value arts, academic, or vocational qualifications.

The Attainment 8 measure shows students’ average attainment across this suite of subjects as an average grade, whilst the Progress 8 measure compares this grade to how students with a similar average Key Stage 2 score performed nationally.

English Baccalaureate qualifications

From September 2017, the Government announced their intention for the majority of students to be entered for GCSEs in English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, at least two GCSEs in Sciences, a GCSE in either History or Geography, and a GCSE in a Modern Foreign Language. Achieving good grades in this combination of subjects means that students are considered to have completed the English Baccalaureate.

Only qualifications that count towards the EBacc can be included in the Progress 8 slots reserved for English, Mathematics, and the three ‘EBacc slots’. Any combination of EBacc subjects can be used to fill these slots, e.g. Biology, Chemistry, Physics; Combined Science; Computer Science; French, Spanish; History, Geography.

What do we offer at Key Stage 4?

Students work towards their GCSEs or equivalent qualifications over the two years of study from Year 10 to Year 11. Students will have selected options during Year 9 and their curriculum at Key Stage 4 will be a combination of compulsory GCSE subjects and optional subjects. 

The compulsory GCSE subjects are as follows:

  • English Language
  • English Literature
  • Mathematics
  • Combined Science 

Option A (1 subject from the following):

  • History
  • Geography
  • Art and Design
  • Music (RSL Level 2 Certificate)

Option B (1 subject from the following):

  • French
  • Spanish
  • Health & Social Care (Level 2 BTEC)
  • Business Studies
  • Drama (Level 2 BTEC)
  • Geography
  • Media Studies
  • Triple Science (Means that students opting for this will take GCSE Biology, GCSE Chemistry and GCSE Physics instead of GCSE Combined Science)

Option C (1 subject from the following):

  • French
  • Spanish
  • Business Studies
  • Computer Science
  • Food Preparation & Nutrition
  • History
  • Music (RSL Level 2 Certificate)
  • Sociology

We also continue to provide the following non-qualification subjects as part of our core curriculum offer for students in Key Stage 4:

  • Physical Education
  • PSHCE
  • Core Religious Education (with the option to take this as a full GCSE in Year 11)

In addition to this, we continue to offer a wide variety of extra-curricular and subject specific enrichment activities which we would encourage all of our students to participate in. The importance of these cannot be understated, as they enable our students to realise their fullest potential, helping students learn valuable social skills, leadership and how to cope with responsibility. Details of these can be found on the individual faculty pages.

Post-16 Courses

As a Sixth Form, we offer a range of level 3 courses, as well as offering a one year Level 2 programme. Our level 3 courses feature both A-Level subjects and vocational subjects. These subjects allow young people to deepen their understanding and skills, to a more advanced level. All our level 3 subjects will enable students to continue into higher education at university; pursue an apprenticeship and gain employment.

We currently offer the following subjects at A-Level:

  • Accounting
  • Art and Design – Fine Art
  • Biology
  • Business Studies
  • Chemistry
  • English Language and Literature
  • Film Studies
  • Geography
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Mathematical Studies (Equivalent to AS)
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Religious Studies (Philosophy, Ethics and Islam)
  • Sociology

Our vocational subjects available include BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate, BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma, Level 3 Cambridge Technicals and CACHE Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma. We currently offer the following subjects:

  • Law
  • Applied Science
  • Business
  • Health and Social Care
  • ICT
  • Sport