Year 7 - 9
In year 7 students study a core curriculum of English (4 periods), Maths (4 periods) and Science1 (3 periods per week).
Alongside this students study Technology2 (2 periods), Humanities3 (3 periods), Physical Education (2 periods), Performing Arts4 (2 periods), Modern Languages5 (2 periods), Art and Design6 (2 periods) and PSHE (1 period).
1 Students will cover aspects of the three science disciplines- biology, chemistry and physics.
2Technology is taught on a rotation with students gaining experience in Food Technology, Computer Science, Engineering and Textiles.
3In year 7 Humanities is taught thematically with each theme having an element of History, Geography and Religious Education.
4 Students have 1 period of music and 1 period of drama per week.
5Students will study either French or Spanish. Parents/students can request a language choice prior to entry otherwise allocation is based on student preference where possible.
6During Year 7 students undertake a carousel of fine art, 3D textiles and graphic design.
In year 8 the curriculum rolls on from Year 7 with students moving to discrete periods in history, geography and religious studies (one period of each per week). In Art and Design students make subject preferences and where possible students will follow a programme in year 8 of one of the year 7 carousel disciplines.
For a select number of students for whom it is deemed appropriate provision for an extra period of mathematics and/or English can be made available. Where this happens the student does not follow a modern language programme at key stage 3.
In year 9 students have a core curriculum of English (4 periods), Mathematics (4 periods),Science (3 periods) and 2 periods of History, Geography, Languages and Cultures and Values per week. In addition, they have 1 period of PE per week and 1 period of PSHE that covers the wider aspects of healthy relationships, healthy living and appropriate lifestyle choices.
Year 10 - 11
Students make their GCSE options in year 9 – studying English, Maths, Science and Culture and Values as the core alongside 3 selected option subjects. All of these courses continue with all exams being completed at the end course in the summer of Year 11.
Students in year 11 are introduced to the courses and pathways on offer at Post 16 through a series of assemblies jointly delivered by the subject leads and the Head of Sixth Form. A Post 16 Open Evening gives the opportunity for students and parents/ carers to explore the progression routes in greater detail.
The IAG co-coordinator is on hand to support students and this process will have started well in advance of year 11.
3 pathways are available to students: a pre apprenticeship route, a level 3 vocational route and a Level 3 academic route – the last 2 of which may be combined.
On the Academic and Level 3 vocational pathways students will make provisional subject choices – choosing from 4 option blocks. The expectation is that students will choose 3 subjects to study for 2 years. In some circumstances students will study 4 subjects at Post 16.
On the pre apprenticeship pathway students will select a vocational area from a city wide offer and will study through a combination of work experience and in school/ college study.
To complement the academic study students will undertake a programme of enrichment activities which may include extended project, community commitment, work experience, Duke Of Edinburgh, Ten Tors, Crest Award, Young Enterprise and Sports Leadership Awards.
We believe that a ‘world-class’ curriculum facilitates personal development, equipping students to engage in the crucial debates and conversations of their time - preparing them for the demands of local, national and international society.
We aim to provide a curriculum for our students that allows them to attain high quality qualifications routed in a deep foundation of transferrable knowledge acquired from a range of subject areas. We focus our curriculum on the acquisition of core disciplinary knowledge, building on that which is learnt in primary school and preparing at every stage for what will be encountered next.
In a context where limited experiences of different religions, cultures and travel outside of the South West are common it is incumbent on our curriculum to facilitate these opportunities. We believe that all young people should have access to the kinds of knowledge which may not be encountered in their personal lives i.e., knowledge that takes pupils beyond their daily lived experience. Access to powerful knowledge is central in achieving social mobility as it enables pupils to think beyond their individual context.
The curriculum must ensure that students progress on from Tor Bridge High with the awareness and understanding to allow them to both integrate and flourish in a modern democratic society.
The Curriculum Journey at Tor Bridge High
Students continue their journey from primary school and enter Tor Bridge High, immediately engaging in their Experience phase. Here they have the opportunity to experience the full breadth of the curriculum- studying a range of performing and visual arts disciplines, technology specialisms alongside the more traditional academic subjects. This continues into year 9 where they enter the Extend phase- core knowledge from their first 2 years is embedded and extended. Students will have the opportunity to specialise by choosing their preferred Arts and Technology specialism. Students will experience a new subject – Cultures and Values. This builds on their previous Religious Studies work in year 7 and 8 whilst incorporating non examined key components of personal development and cultural awareness. Students make their GCSE option choices in the Spring of Year 9 and during the Expand phase of year 10 and 11, students are fully immersed in GCSE studies- using prior knowledge to allow them to tackle new and challenging concepts. Students then move towards the specialist Expert phase of post 16 – choosing 3 subjects from a range of academic and vocational courses to really explore in depth and prepare them for further education.
A fundamental aspect of our curriculum that underpins and enriches the learning experience is our Guided Reading programme. Taking place 4 mornings a week, students are exposed to, and immersed in, challenging texts that support their understanding of the world and their cross curricular learning – providing the context to knowledge and vocabulary that will support them on their journey.
“The book is about the enduring power of reading to shape and develop minds, both in the classroom and, ultimately, outside of it.” - Doug Lemov, 2018
Reading is...singular in importance because all school subjects rely on it.” - Doug Lemov, 2018
Our Values Through The Curriculum
We want our students to achieve the highest possible academic progress and to have the highest standards of themselves. Our curriculum sees the national curriculum as a minimum entitlement for all students, regardless of their starting points- it is what we believe is both Just and a driver for social equity. We are an inclusive school - we know that some students will need more help in order to flourish and we work hard to make sure they get the right support to succeed. However, it is our ambition that every student should have the opportunity to study the full curriculum.
Our ambitious teaching and learning approach is influenced from the findings from cognitive science. Our staff are regularly asking what it means to really know something, to retain important ideas in the long-term memory. Underpinning this, is thinking about an ambitious approach for students, for increasing the cognitive demands and for supporting these through appropriate scaffolding, support and talk.
We want our students to understand that we are stronger together, working as members of the Tor Bridge High community and to be good citizens in society. Our commitment to the Visual Arts, Performing Arts and Technology subjects provides the opportunities to both, excel individually, and as part of a wider team.
The making of a curriculum is more than just the selection and sequencing of powerful knowledge. Curricula are constantly refined, responsive to the changing demands of modern life and a curriculum vision is only effective in achieving its goals when in the hands of expert teachers. Teachers at Tor Bridge High are subject experts and using the Tor Bridge High principles of teaching, they base their teaching methodologies on cognitive science, educational research, and their own expert understanding of their subject discipline.
Subject teams pre-empt, and respond in real-time, to the range of needs encountered in the classroom, placing the student at the heart of their decision-making. Through regular subject mastery sessions our teachers have regular opportunities to engage with their subject teams (and also with networks beyond our own school) so that they can maintain and build on their expertise and engage with their wider subject-network communities.
We want our students to be resilient, able to face any of life’s challenges and to thrive. We believe to learn is to take risks and students will be supported through the curriculum to take risks within the classroom. To embed learning into long term memory requires consistent retrieval activities – conducted with high challenge but low threat – which form a key stone of every lesson at Tor Bridge High. This encouragement to understand and actively engage in the process of recalling core knowledge and not fear failure is something every teacher will promote every lesson.
Courage is about going beyond one’s comfort zone – that may be reading one of the Classics as part of the Guided Reading programme, engaging with a higher level learning activity, taking part in a Duke of Edinburgh expedition or joining any one of our many extracurricular activities.
We want our students to lead safe, happy, healthy lives, to have big dreams and be equipped with ability to reach their dreams and to be the best version of themselves.
We encourage students to have the highest aspirations of themselves and by learning our curriculum, we know that our pupils will be provided with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life and make that positive contribution to society.
We want our students to celebrate their own uniqueness and creativity, as well as to embrace differences in other people and cultures. We don’t leave these ambitions to chance or assume they will happen -these themes are addressed through all subject curricula and explicitly taught through our PSHE and Cultures and Values courses and a core consideration when planning the chosen texts for our Guided Reading Programme.
We want to develop well-rounded young people with a highly developed social conscience, ready to lead in their communities and beyond. Our curriculum will challenge pupils to uphold our core values , and develop their cultural capital, character and confidence. Our subject curricula, along with our wider enrichment opportunities and PSHE curriculum, will ensure that pupils leave Tor Bridge High as productive individuals who are able to actively engage in the world and importantly, make a difference.