“The quality of curriculum that a school has shapes the quality of thinking that goes on in the school and therefore shapes the quality of the minds engaged in the common, curriculum pursuit.” Martin Robinson

Curriculum Rationale

Through our curriculum, we aim to:

  • Provide a broad and balanced education for all our students;
  • Enable students to develop knowledge, understand concepts and acquire skills as this epitomises and admirable education, and be able to choose and apply these in relevant situations;
  • Support students’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development;
  • Support students’ physical development and responsibility for their own health, and enable them to be active;
  • Promote a positive attitude towards learning
  • Ensure equal access to learning, with high expectations for every student and appropriate levels of challenge and support;
  • Provide subject choices that support students’ learning and progression, and enable them to work towards achieving their goals
  • Develop students’ independent learning skills and resilience to equip them for the further/higher education and employment.

We believe that curricular depth is equally important to enable the level of knowledge and understanding that epitomises an admirable education. It is our long held view that education must challenge young people to think critically, learn independently, analyse, evaluate, reflect and create; in addition, it must develop responsibility and resilience along its journey to academic excellence. Through an emphasis on knowledge acquisition, our curriculum is designed to lead to admirable results and enable young people to flourish in the future and not be left behind.

Brine Leas School students typically, join the school at the end of KS2 with average point scores higher than those nationally. With this context in mind, our curriculum has the following characteristics:

  • 50 period timetable over two weeks – time is limited, therefore, the hyperlinks opposite identifies what proportion of the curriculum time in KS3, KS4 and KS5 is allocated to each of the curriculum areas.
  • Hour long lessons, with some double lessons at GCSE and A Level
  • A strong PSHE Programme that incorporates spiritual moral social and cultural education, including Fundamental British Values, Relationships and Sex Education and Healthy Living.
  • An enviable House System and enrichment programme.
  • Young people complete up to 10 GCSEs
  • A provision of two or three languages at KS3, with the option to additionally study a second language in Year 10
  • Three year Key Stage 3 – we are committed to a three year key stage 3 to ensure students experiences of the arts, design and technology, and humanities are not curtailed prematurely.
  • Two year Key Stage 4 to reflect and design of GCSE qualifications – 3 option choices from 26 qualifications to retain breadth but enable depth of study without excessive time being devoted to testing.
  • Key Stage 4 pathway model that promotes an academic curriculum – we aim to maximise take-up at key stage 4 with the overwhelming majority of students studying the full suite of EBACC subjects, this includes Modern Foreign Language and a humanity (Geography or History)
  • Vocational options at key stage 4 including, Digital Information Technologies, Engineering, Enterprise, Performing Arts and Hospitality and Catering
  • Key Stage 5 pathway model – 4 routes, retaining the ability to study and sit exams in 4 A Level subjects from an offer of 39 qualifications, along with Level 3 Core Maths and/or the Extended Project Qualification
  • Vocational options at key stage 5 including Engineering, Performing Arts and Music.
  • AS Levels are retained in some subjects and are taken by young people who wish to cease studying one of their four A Levels at the end of Year 12.
  • A strong enrichment programme at Key Stage 5 including the option to study EPQ, programmes of peer tutoring and peer mentoring.
Curriculum Intent

We are committed to providing a curriculum with breadth and depth that enables young people to develop and achieve. We do this through providing opportunities for their personal development and by enabling them to achieve their personal best. We strive to prepare young people for life-long learning through providing challenging learning opportunities that motivates and inspires whilst at the same time preparing them for further education and for the world of work. In addition, we provide a broad range of opportunities to promote active community involvement thus preparing young people for life in modern Britain.

Curriculum Implementation

We have been evolving the implementation of our curriculum based on evidence from cognitive science. There are three main principles that underpin cognitive science:

  1. Learning is most effective when spaced rather than blocked;
  2. Interleaving helps long-term retention; and
  3. Do you need a special licence or are there age limits on the work you want to do

In addition, to the three principles we also understand that learning is invisible in the short-term and that sustained mastery takes time.

Curriculum Impact

The impact of our curriculum is that by the end of each Milestone the vast majority of young people have made progress through sustained mastery of content, that is, they remember it all and are fluent in in; some young people have greater depth of understanding. In addition, the overwhelming majority of young people achieve a sustained destination within further education, employment and/or training.

Further details of the organisation of the curriculum can be found within out Curriculum Policy.

Amendments to the Curriculum due to COVID-19 Pandemic 2020-2021

Our overarching aim is to continue to provide an ambitious curriculum that is broad and balanced. However, in order to welcome all students back to school, reduce transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) and to plug knowledge gaps by the end of this academic year, a number of changes have been made to the curriculum and how it is delivered to our students.

Students will follow their normal timetable and they will be taught in normal sized classes. Classrooms will be used by more than one class. However, to limit the sharing of rooms and to reduce the number of contacts between students and staff, key stage 3 student will be taught in their maths set for science and they will be taught the curriculum within year group bubbles within zoned areas of the school. To limit the unnecessary sharing of resources between students and teachers who work across year group bubbles, various online platforms, including GCSEPod, Microsoft Teams and Seneca Learning, will be used to assess curricular knowledge outside of the classroom.


In response to school closure at the end of March 2020, teachers have identified the potential lost curricular learning, including essential knowledge and skills in English and maths from key stage 2; and they have identified how the gaps in core knowledge and skills can be filled. This may include alterations to the how subjects sequence the curriculum as shown by their curriculum overviews, and making effective use of regular formative assessment. The aim is to return to the school’s normal curriculum content by the summer term 2021.

The school will continue to develop remote education through Microsoft Teams, GCSEPods and Seneca Learning, so that is it integrated into school curriculum planning. This will ensure individual or groups of self-isolating students educated at home are given the support they need to continue with their education.

The school will receive support from the government through the Coronavirus (COVID-19) catch-up premium for 2020 to 2021 to support students who need the most help to catch up with their learning. The catch-up premium will be used to facilitate evidence-based approaches, as determined by the Education Endowment Foundation. The National Tutoring Programme is restricted to the most disadvantaged areas and as such is not applicable to Brine Leas School.

Specific points for Key Stages 4 and 5

In response to COVID-19, OFQUAL have made changes to the assessment of GCSEs, AS and A levels in 2021. As a result, the vast majority of students are expected to study all of their examination subjects as this will support them towards their future destinations. In exceptional circumstances, the school may suspend one or more subjects for some students; this is subject to discussion with parents in the autumn term. In such instances, a plan for return to the full curriculum by the summer term 2021 will be in place. There is less scope to reduce the curriculum for students in years 12 and 13 as fewer qualifications are studied. Discontinuing a subject is therefore likely to significantly limit choices for further study and employment post-18, so is expected to be rare.

Specialist subjects and equipment

Certain subjects, such as art, design and technology, food, and art require specialist teaching rooms and equipment for curricular delivery. Examination classes will be prioritised for specialist teaching and resources will be cleaned between bubbles, or rotated to allow them to be left unused and out of reach for a period of 48 hours (72 hours for plastics) between use by different bubbles. If this is not possible between year group bubbles, the curriculum will be altered and it will be delivered in standard classrooms. This may include the production of prototypes for design and technology, removal of practical food preparation, and removal of specific materials within art lessons.


Due to the possible additional risks of infection where people are singing, chanting, playing wind or brass instruments or shouting. Significant changes will be made to the music curriculum if the following cannot take place: physical distancing and playing outside, limiting group sizes to 15, positioning students back-to-back or side-to-side. Singing, wind and brass playing will not take place in larger groups such as school choirs and ensembles, or school assemblies.

Physical Education

We are committed to ensuring students can participate in purposeful physical education and physical activity at this time. Sport and physical activity has a vital role in ensuring physical and mental health. However, teaching and learning within physical education currently will not be like before and a number of measures have been put into place to facilitate physical activity. To ensure changing rooms can be cleaned between year groups there will be two types of PE lessons: practical PE lessons and non-practical PE lessons. Practical PE lessons will take place outside whilst non-practical PE lessons will take place within a classroom; only one year half will undertake practical PE at any given time. Where possible, students will work in their own zone and they will avoid shouting or raising their voices when facing each other before, during and after games. The activities will be chosen to minimise contact; sports with a high contact will not take place until it is safe to do so.

Changing areas, if used, will be cleaned after every lesson.

Students with SEND

The school will ensure that appropriate support is made available for students with SEND. Where support staff capacity is available, the school will support catch-up provision or targeted intervention. However, this will not be at the expense of supporting students with SEND. Some students with SEND (whether with education, health and care plans or on SEN support) may need specific help and preparation for the changes to routine will bring. This may involve removal from lessons and curricular delivery within the Learning Education Centre.

Alternative curricular provision off-site

A minority of year 11 students have part completed a vocational qualification at a different educational establishment; these qualifications are not delivered at Brine Leas School. A thorough scrutiny of risk assessments will be undertaken to determine whether students can continue with this educational provision. There will be no off-site alternative provision for all other students. This includes work placements, work experience and placements at an alternative educational institution.

External visitors to enrich the curriculum

Peripatetic music lessons are delivered by staff who work across year groups and within different schools. As a result, in the first instance, peripatetic teachers will not deliver music lessons to individual or small groups of students. Individual lessons will recommence when the risks associated with these lessons are reduced.

Guest speakers are often used to enrich the curriculum through delivery to whole year groups within a shared space. In order to reduce the risks of transmission of COVID-19, the curriculum will not be enriched by visiting guest speakers from outside of school. This includes careers related activities that form part of our CEIAG programme, such as mock interviews, careers talks, and careers convention. Similarly, students will not be participating in formal work experience.

Extra-curricular provision, including educational visits

In the first instance, extra-curricular provision before school, during lunch and afterschool will not take place. This is due to the need to keep students in consistent groups. Provision may resume when the risks associated with these sessions are reduced.

Following government advice, overnight and overseas educational visits will not take place. Non-overnight domestic educational visits will take place for courses if they are necessary for specific examination subjects as stated by exam boards; and they will continue for students with SEND if they are connected with their preparation for adulthood, for example, further educational visits.

Contingency plans for outbreak

Online platforms, including Microsoft Teams, Seneca Learning and GCSE PODs, will be used concurrently with classroom teaching to deliver a sequenced curriculum. These platforms enable interaction between students and teachers in order to allow assessment and feedback. In the event of self-isolation of individual students, a group of students, or if there is a local school closure, staff, students and families will be familiar with these platforms to enable learning to transfer smoothly to remote learning. In the absence of suitable online access, printed resources, such as textbooks, will be provided to students.

More detailed information for particular sections can be found within the Curriculum Policy Addendum

Curriculum Management

KS3 (Years 7-9)

KS3 subjects belong to one of the following Curriculum Areas:

English & LiteracyMathematics & NumeracySciencesBusiness & Languages
English Mathematics Science Computer Science/Computing
German (Year 9 only)
Humanities & Social SciencesExpressive Arts & PEDesign & Technology including Food & Nutrition
Personal Social Health and Economic education, including Relationships and Sex Education
Religious Education
Physical Education
Design & Technology
Food & Nutrition

KS4 (Years 10-11)

KS4 qualifications, or courses, belong to one of the following Curriculum Areas:

English & LiteracyMathematics & NumeracySciencesBusiness & Languages
GCSE English Language
GCSE English Literature
Step Up to English
GCSE Mathematics NB.
Set 4 also completes the following qualifications: Edexcel Awards in Number and Measure, Edexcel Award in Statistical Methods, and Edexcel Award in Algebra
GCSE Combined Science Trilogy
GCSE Triple Science – Biology
GCSE Triple Science – Chemistry
GCSE Triple Science – Physics
GCSE Business Studies
GCSE Computer Science
GCSE Economics
Enterprise Tech Award
Information Technologies and Digital Information Technology BTEC Technical Award
GCSE French
GCSE German
GCSE Spanish
Humanities & Social SciencesExpressive Arts & PEDesign & Technology
GCSE Geography
GCSE History
GCSE Psychology
GCSE Religious Education
Core Religious Education (Non-examined)
GCSE Sociology
Personal Social Health and Economic education, including Relationship and Sexuality Education British Values Citizenship SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural education)
GCSE Drama
GCSE Media Studies
GCSE Music
Performing Arts Tech Award
GCSE Physical Education
Core Physical Education (Non-examined)
GCSE Art and Design: Art
GCSE Art & Design: Textiles
GCSE Design & Technology (Materials)
GCSE Design & Technology (Graphics)
GCSE Engineering BTEC Technical
GCSE Engineering
GCSE Food & Nutrition
Level 1/Level 2 Hospitality & Catering
OCR Level 1/Level 2 Cambridge National Certificate in Creative iMedia

KS5 (Years 12-13)

KS5 qualifications, or courses, belong to one of the following Curriculum Areas:

English & LiteracyMathematics & NumeracySciencesBusiness & Languages
A Level English Language
A Level English Literature
A Level English Literature & Language
A Level Mathematics
A Level Further Mathematics
Core Mathematics
Step Mathematics
A Level Biology
A Level Chemistry
A Level Physics

A Level Environmental Science
A Level Business Studies
A Level Computer Science
A Level Economics
A Level French
A Level German
A Level Spanish
Humanities & Social SciencesExpressive Arts & PEDesign & Technology
A Level Geography
A Level Government & Politics
A Level History
A Level Law
A Level Religion, Philosophy & Ethics
A Level Sociology
A Level Psychology
Cambridge Technical Extended Certificate Health & Social Care
Extended Project Qualification

Personal Social Health and Economic education, including Relationship and Sexuality Education
British Values
SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural education)
A Level Drama & Theatre Studies
A Level Media Studies
A Level Music
BTec Music Subsidiary Diploma
BTec Performing Arts Extended Certificate
BTec Performing Arts Subsidiary Diploma
A Level Physical Education
A Level Art
A Level Electronics
A Level Graphics
A Level Photography
A Level Product Design
A Level Textiles
BTec Engineering Extended Certificate
Level 3 Food Science & Nutrition