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 Psychology curriculum is exemplary because:

  • We create psychologists who are prepared for further study in a range of fields. Our curriculum encourages students to develop as psychologists who understand how human behaviour can be measured, explained and modified, in accordance with key psychological approaches.
  • Our curriculum is focused on giving students a well-balanced diet within the subject. We challenge students to consider how psychology can be used to benefit individuals, society and the economy.
  • We challenge students to question the extent to which psychology can be considered a science, and the degree of accountability individuals have for their actions, whilst developing skills in conducting research, analysing data,  synopticity, and writing  as a psychologist, including confident use of psychological literacy.
  • Our curriculum ensures students appreciate that psychology is not just focused on mental health disorders, but can be utilised to fully understand a range of human behaviours, including brain functioning, memory, human relationships, pro social actions, and cognitive development. Students gain knowledge of a range of specialisms, which they can pursue beyond school.

The Psychology curriculum is ambitious, broad and balanced:

  • It follows the AQA specification in terms of compulsory components, but the optional topics which have been selected from Paper 3 ensure students are exposed to a broad range of fields within psychology, providing them with a balanced view of what the subject is about, and challenging students to engage with more complex topics.
  • It includes topics which are nationally not popular due to their complexity, but offer students the best opportunities to fully appreciate the range of domains within psychology.  
  • It covers a wide range of biological, cognitive, behavioural, humanistic and psychodynamic psychology, offering a very broad insight for students; students are challenged to apply these perspectives to a range of behaviours.  
  • It is based around the usefulness and appropriateness of a range of psychological approaches in terms of how they explain human behaviour, and their impact on individuals, the reputation of psychology and the economy.

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

  • Our curriculum for such students is ambitious and matches that for all students; adaptations made in lessons and assessments ensure equal opportunities and access to all areas of the curriculum, regardless of needs.  
  • Our curriculum is differentiated; scaffolding and differentiation are consistently used so all students, regardless of their needs, reach their full potential.
  • Resources are differentiated to support the learning of such students in accordance with advice from Pupil Passports; the department prides itself on making full use of IEPs to make lessons accessible to all. 
  • To overcome financial barriers, all students are provided with a textbook to support their learning free of charge.
  • Suitable support materials, including key vocabulary, worked examples, and revision materials, are provided for students; revision lessons can be arranged to cater for specific needs.
  • Regular monitoring of student progress is conducted; interventions are implemented when necessary.
  • Suitable access arrangements are given to those students who need them for all assessments.

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

  • It is taught by a team of staff who consistently support students to achieve; results are well above the national average and continue to improve.
  • It is led by a trained social science teacher, and all staff offer specific expertise in key areas of the course.
  • The department shares good practice and plans accordingly to ensure that staff’s areas of expertise are used productively to guarantee positive outcomes for students.
  • Student uptake of the subject continues to grow every year due to the department’s success.
  • It is a broad and varied curriculum that aims to develop psychologists who can research human behaviour, as well as explain it, modify it and consider its implications.