In Y9, students have previously studied Maths, English, Science, RE, PE and the Pastoral Programme for 30hrs a fortnight (out of 50hrs across a 2 week timetable). The remaining 20hrs have been divided between History, Geography, French, Spanish, Art, Drama, Music, Computer Science and Design and Technology (9 subjects). This programme has had a number of strengths including ensuring that students retain breadth and balance in their academic diet. For a number of subjects, however, the contact time with students in Y9 has been very limited under this model, in some cases just 1hr per fortnight, and we firmly believe that this does not provide the best experience or platform for future success in such subjects. 

GCSEs have changed during the last few years, and have become more challenging, with increased content and harder exams. Y9, therefore, needs to be used as good preparation for the demands of GCSEs. As well as looking to improve contact time for some subjects at St Mary’s, such national changes to the rigour and demands of GCSEs and vocational courses at KS4, has prompted us, like all schools, to consider carefully the preparation that students receive during KS3, especially in Y9. 

As we are able to deliver the content of the national curriculum in Years 7 and 8, we believe that our adapted curriculum structure for Y9 responds appropriately to the challenges which students face in KS4.

We do not shorten the KS3 curriculum and believe that the small reduction in the number of subjects that children study, from 16 to 13, is merited.

Feedback from staff and students has highlighted that the structure is popular and contributes to the outstanding achievement at St Mary’s. 

The Y9 curriculum can be summarised as follows: 

  • All children will continue to study RE, English Language and Literature, Maths, the 3 separate Sciences, PE and our Pastoral Programme.  
  • All children will also continue with 3 subjects drawn from French, Spanish, History and Geography. Some will choose to continue with all 4 of these. All students will continue with at least one creative/technology subject and will also choose one additional subject to complete their programme and retain breadth and balance overall.   

For most subjects, this introduction of a small amount of choice represents a significant increase in curriculum time in Y9.  We believe that this will provide a better platform to prepare for challenging KS4 courses in these subjects. Whilst this approach in Y9 is not a change to a full blown 3 year KS4 programme, it clearly offers departments the opportunity to really use Y9 as a platform to prepare students in the skills that they will require for the new KS4 courses. Whilst for some subjects this will mean that not all students in Y9 will study the subject, those who elect to do so, where there is some choice, will have a more in depth experience. 

Ideally, students should select subjects that they are keen on for GCSE in Years 10/11. It may be possible to pick up some subjects for GCSE in Year 10 if they are not studied in Year 9. Please note, however, that this does not apply to languages or history/geography. They must be followed in Year 9 for a student to continue them to GCSE.