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Our curriculum vision

Our curriculum defines the purpose of our school and the journey we want our students to take.  At Archbishop Ilsley Catholic School, we believe that all students are able to become successful citizens with excellent academic success and the ability to be influential yet kind and compassionate citizens; our saints of the 21st century, dedicated to and called to a life of service to self, God and others.  


We believe that this success comes from students being experts in the disciplines that they study. Their expertise will be achieved through our high quality curriculum, our classroom pedagogy and the teaching of deep knowledge by highly skilled and knowledgeable subject experts. Students will benefit from our ‘knowledge rich’ approach to learning in every classroom, every lesson, every day.  

Our ‘Knowledge Rich Curriculum’ approach recognises that the acquisition of skills and knowledge go hand-in-hand and will ultimately prepare all students for their next steps through to Key Stage 4, Key Stage 5 and beyond. Our curriculum intent ensures that our curriculum framework of cognitive education is planned to enable students to think independently and contribute positively to society and the wider world. Our students will become:


  • ‘Knowledge rich’ experts in their subjects of study 

  • Active - engaging with the ever changing world around them

  • Curious about the universe; its places, events, people, customs and cultures

  • Responsible for their own learning

We recognise the importance of:

  • Ensuring that our curriculum is enriched by the teachings of the Catholic church and led by the Jesuit Virtues

  • Building and applying knowledge; our students should have the skills to deepen their understanding and demonstrate this in a variety of contexts

  • Developing cultural capital to address social disadvantage and ensure equity for all our students

  • Growing our students’ understanding of meta-cognition and memory to improve their learning and enable them to remember more to do more

  • Developing our students as independent learners; students should have the opportunity to become resilient, confident and self-regulated learners

  • High quality teaching and learning utilising our Stages of Learning which focus on teacher explanation and modelling using metacognition talk, abstract models with concrete examples, dual coding and effective questioning and feedback to include whole class feedback

  • Departmental planning from Key Stage 3 to 4 so as to ensure a sequenced curriculum, that develops well-ordered schema in our students’ long-term memory

  • High levels of subject knowledge in our teachers, supported by our programme of continuing professional development

  • A rigorous and robust assessment process that is equitable and age appropriate and from which meaningful data is achieved.  Feedback is immediate, meaningful and productive and used to motivate students and families

  • Study Practice as an integral part of our students’ learning supported through Study Practice Workbooks and Knowledge Organisers

The National Curriculum is the basis for all taught content at KS3 (Years 7-9) ensuring students benefit from a broad and balanced approach whilst ensuring students are taught the knowledge entitlement decided upon by our subject specialists.  Students have a two week timetable; each day consists of five lessons of 60 minutes each.

In Key Stage 3 students will study the following:

Year 7 (50 periods)

English (6), Mathematics (8), Science (6), Religious Studies (5), Create (Art, Computing, Design  & Technology  and Food studies) (8), Enquire (English, Geography, History and Humanities) (8), Modern Foreign Languages (3), Music (2), Physical Education (4)

Year 8 (50 periods)

English (7), Mathematics (7), Science (6), Religious Studies (5), Art (2), Business Studies & Computing and IT (2), Design & Technology (4), Geography (4), History (4), Modern Foreign Languages (4), Music (1), Physical Education (4)

Year 9 (50 periods)

English (8), Mathematics (8), Science (6), Religious Studies (5), Art (2), Business Studies & Computing and IT & Health & Social Care (2), Design & Technology (3), Geography (3), History (3), Modern Foreign Languages (4), Music (2), Physical Education (4)

The curriculum for every department emphasises the development and securing of deep knowledge alongside the development of skills. Students will be introduced to and understand, theories and principles that have influenced, continue to influence and will influence in the future, the world in which they live. They will be prepared to fully engage in academic discussion about their learning. Teachers foster a love of learning and a desire to achieve; this begins with each subject’s own driving intent leading to the sequencing of topics taught. At the foundation of our knowledge rich curriculum, is the use of high quality Knowledge Booklets and Knowledge Organisers. Booklets for each subject have been written by departments to accompany Sequences of Learning; they will be used in the classroom and at home.

Booklets contain information to read, comprehension activities, glossaries of key words and diagrams and pictures depending upon the subject/topic. 

Study Practice using Knowledge Organisers will also be completed by students as a way of aiding knowledge recall and training students’ long term memory recall and independent study skills.


Our Curriculum DNA:

1. Teaching the Right Knowledge: Subject leaders have been given time to plan collaboratively with their colleagues and produce long term plans for the sequence of knowledge and skills.

2. Development of schema - Ordering and sequencing content in a logical way; making explicit links between content.

3. Application of Core and Hinterland Knowledge: Subject leaders and teachers focus on teaching students the most ‘valuable knowledge’ in order for students to have a deep understanding of their subjects.  Knowledge Booklets, Organisers and assessments all focus on the core knowledge, hinterland knowledge and curriculum instruments as outlined in subject Learning Sequences.  These are available to view on our website.

4. Consistent vocabulary strategies across the curriculum.  All subject teachers actively promote ‘Disciplinary literacy’ and the use of subject specific vocabulary that will be revisited.  All subjects have a published vocabulary list that allows students to speak and write as experts within those disciplines

5. Consistent reading strategies across the curriculum.  Subject teachers use active reading strategies to aid modelling of reading, writing and the cognitive process using their Knowledge Booklets.  Teachers also plan opportunities for structured talk.

6. Spaced practice: This is where knowledge is rehearsed for short periods over a longer period of time. Students experience regular quizzing in lessons often through ‘Retrieval Practice’ quizzes and low stakes testing.  Teachers are encouraged to use a variety of techniques to revisit content and interleave knowledge over time.  The assessment process allows for teachers to reteach knowledge to consolidate student’s understanding before moving on to new content.

7. Study Practice: Knowledge Organisers and Study Practice Books are used in KS3 and KS4. These form the basis of the whole school Study Practice strategy.

In order for you to further support your child at home and have a better understanding of their curriculum, Knowledge Booklets and Knowledge Organisers for each subject, are now available to download on the school website.


What should students do?


Students will be provided with Knowledge Booklets and Knowledge Organisers in each of their subject areas.  They may be asked by their teachers to bring booklets home to use for revision or to complete tasks in.  Some subjects may prefer to keep booklets in school and in other subjects, booklets will be accessed using Google Classroom.  However, these booklets are invaluable; they contain all of the most important knowledge that teachers want students to know!  Students will be working through booklets in class and completing retrieval practice quizzes and other work based upon the information inside them.  



What should parents/carers do?

Our Knowledge Booklets and the accompanying Knowledge Organisers are students’ personal text books written by our teachers, the subject specialists!  Students will be set Study Practice tasks on sections of their knowledge organisers and complete retrieval practice quizzes and assessments using this knowledge.  You could read through the knowledge booklets and organisers with your child, ask questions about the content, ask them about the things they did in class that might help them remember in more detail.  Above all, talk to your child and take a really keen interest in what they are doing with this knowledge. 


Talking about their learning and reading each evening will have a profound effect upon their progress.  If your child knows this content and can recall it in their quizzes and assessments, it is likely that your child will do really well as they progress through the year.

The Key Stage 4 Curriculum


In Key Stage 4, the core curriculum for all includes RS, English, Mathematics, Science and PE. In addition, a wide range of optional subjects are offered to complement the core curriculum.  Students will study the core and up to four option subjects from the following:


English (7), Mathematics (7), Science (9), Religious Studies (5), Core Physical Education (2)

Options (5 periods)

Art, Business Studies, Computing, Design & Technology, Food Studies, French, Geography, Health and Social Care, History, ICT (imedia), Media Studies, Music, Physical Education, Spanish, Study Support, Triple Science

The Key Stage 5 Curriculum


In Key Stage 5, the Sixth Form students are required to follow a suitable 16-19 Study Programme. Study Programmes are designed around students, their targets and ambitions.  Students must study three subjects as their main programme of study; they should then choose either the Extended Project Qualification or Core Mathematics as their enrichment subject.  Other qualification hours include Core RS Programme and GCSE Maths and English retake classes for all students who have not achieved a grade 4 or above.

Options (10 hours per subject)

Art, Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Computing, English Literature, French, Geography, Health and Social Care (single and double award), History, ICT, Mathematics (and Further Mathematics), Media Studies, Physics, Politics, Product Design, Psychology, Sociology, Spanish, Sport, Theology

Core Mathematics

Extended Project Qualification



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