At St Mary’s Catholic School we pride ourselves on providing an exemplary curriculum for all students, including our students with special educational needs.  Our Year 7 to Year 13 curriculum is ambitious, broad and balanced, allowing all students to know more and remember more in lessons, and to achieve exceptional progress.  Our curriculum is planned to stretch and challenge all learners, with highly effective scaffolding in place to ensure our students with SEND and other additional needs also achieve highly.  Our curriculum meets and exceeds all national curriculum requirements.  Due to the numerous strengths and sustained success and impact of our curriculum year on year, St Mary’s supports many other schools within the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust and more widely to share this exemplary practice.

The Geography curriculum is exemplary because:

  • We aim to create the ‘St Mary’s Geographer’. Our curriculum is ambitious and encourages students to develop as ‘thinking geographers’ who understand the physical and human world’s around them.
  • Our curriculum is not driven by exam preparation. We want students to engage with the discipline and consider the changing world around them. We aim to challenge students to question their own role in the local community and in a global setting. To inspire inquiring minds, and intellectual curiosity, to deepen understanding of contemporary challenges, such as a climate change, water security, energy choices. Developing skills in fieldwork, debate, synopticity and writing are all integral parts of the curriculum. 
  • We focus upon skills, such as extended writing, maths, GIS, fieldwork, locational literacy and debate to develop students throughout the curriculum.

The Geography curriculum is ambitious, broad and balanced:

  • It follows the national curriculum at all key stages but is adapted to meet our local city context and the needs of our pupils.  It also adapts and adjusts to match the contemporary nature of our subject, including up to date materials from current affairs.
  • It includes topics that we have developed in school for our students in particular. 
  • It covers a wide range of human, physical and environmental geography offering a very broad diet of information for the pupils
  • It is based around 9 key Geographical concepts  – place, space, scale, interdependence, physical and human processes, environmental impact, sustainable development, cultural awareness, cultural diversity.

The Geography curriculum has effective scaffolding to support our SEND students/other students with additional needs:

  • Our curriculum for students who are SEND is ambitious and matches that for all pupils – this is reflected in the fact that the curriculum has the same breadth and scope for all students with adaptations made.
  • Our curriculum is differentiated. Curriculum plans highlight possible ways that scaffolding and differentiation can be implemented, but ultimately students who have SEND, follow the same curriculum as others, exposing them to the same breadth/scope.
  • Resources are also differentiated as appropriate, to scaffold and support the learning of students who are SEND. 
  • We also ensure that PP/SEND students access all trips and have the materials needed to succeed in their lessons and not have money as a barrier to progress in school.  SEND students are also highlighted upon seating plans in Class Charts and on our departmental trackers so we can track the individual progress of that cohort of students.

The Geography curriculum is worthy of sharing more widely with other schools because:

  • It is taught by a team of 5 staff who all have Geography degrees and are all full time Geography teachers
  • It results in excellent student uptake of the subject at both GCSE and Advanced Level, and superb results at both levels.
  • We have an internationally known geographical website (www.coolgeography.co.uk) aimed to support our students with digital resources
  • It is a broad and varied curriculum that aims to develop thinking Geographers who can interpret the world around them in a critical manner.