Curriculum Ethos

   Barnhill Curriculum Ethos
At Barnhill we believe that every child should develop a life-long love of learning and how to learn successfully. 
We want our pupils to be able to thrive when they leave us and believe that this is best accomplished by working hard and learning from mistakes made to continually improve. 

This is encapsulated through our overall school ethos:

We want our pupils to have:

  • Strong literacy and oracy skills to be able to understand meaning and be confident communicators
  • Strong numeracy skills to allow for financially independence and to interpret trends and patterns
  • Strong analytical thinking skills to be able to create, design and evaluate ideas
  • An appreciation of creative processes and artistic merit
  • A strong grasp of the key knowledge which underpins learning and thinking in all subjects studied
  • The fundamental skills, knowledge and resilience to develop long-term physical and mental well-being
  • An understanding of the diversity and culture of the local, national and international communities of which they form a part.

                                       We will achieve this by:

  • A commitment to teaching and applying the National Curriculum at KS3, 4 and 5
  • Ensuring all lessons build on prior knowledge and address the big ideas that help us to make sense of the world
  • Focussing on the mastery of essential subject specific knowledge 
  • Encouraging students to be participant thinkers in class through debates, analysis and topical application
  • Using the latest research on how we learn and retain information
  • Teaching literacy and numeracy across all subjects
  • Using the curriculum and co-curricula activities to promote British values and citizenship.
  • Ensuring that all students, whatever their background, can develop a cultural capital which will broaden their horizons beyond their local environment. 
  • Ensuring our SEN provision, Careers and Gamma programmes give students a breadth and depth of information about their choices after leaving us

To do this we ensure our staff:

  • Are skilled and knowledgeable subject specialists. (Where staff have to teach outside of their specialism we ensure that appropriate training, support and monitoring is in place.)
  • Have the opportunity to teach across KS3, 4 and 5.
  • Have access to curriculum specific CPD opportunities internally and externally
  • Have dedicated time for subject CPD/ moderation and training
  • Can benefit from the support and advice of Lead Practitioners in the school
  • Share best practise with other schools through partnerships such as PixL and Challenge Partners.
  • Recognise the knowledge and skills that students bring to us in Year 7

                       Curriculum Design and Implementation

Our curriculum follows national curriculum requirements with the opportunity for students to gain a strong foundation in the arts, technology, languages, sciences, maths, humanities and English at KS3.

Pupils are streamed at KS3 based on Literacy and Numeracy ability. This allows pupils to receive highly focussed support for their studies whilst all covering the core material needed to meet National curriculum requirements. Pupils are also taught in mixed ability sets for Expressive subjects to allow the development of inter-personal and teamworking skills with the whole cohort. A carousel of subjects has been introduced at KS3 with smaller class sizes to ensure that we continue to provide Technology and the Expressive arts to all students. We have decided to teach Year 7 in mixed ability sets for literacy subjects this year to ensure all pupils are secure in core skills taking into account the impact of lost learning time in Year 6 due to Covid. Settings for all year groups are fluid and constantly reviewed.

Pupils follow a 3 year KS3 programme at Barnhill during which time teachers work intensively with students to overcome the obstacles and barriers to success that a large proportion of our students face. For example many pupils in the Arts do not benefit from tuition or experiences outside of school that can inform their classroom study. Similarly students in History benefit from the chance to fill in gaps in cultural and linguistic understanding that comes from being EAL pupils. Our aim is to give all pupils a degree of proficiency and confidence in their subjects by the end of Key stage 3 so that the knowledge and skills learnt will stay with them to enrich their future lives. We allow pupils to explore  professional options in Year 9, such as Business or Child development so that the grounding for non-national curriculum subjects is also in place and to facilitate careers focussed thinking.

Every student who is capable will follow the EBacc route at KS4 with two other choices to ensure breadth of learning. Pupils are encouraged to carry on with their specialist subject chosen in Year 9 with strong take up of the arts and social sciences. Our breadth of offer at KS4 caters for the full range of ability with GCSEs, vocational qualifications and the Princes Trust qualification for pupils who need extra support with their personal and social development. Triple science is offered to extend our most enthusiastic Scientists not just our most able ones. Photography GCSE and Child Development BTEC are examples of popular KS4 courses that we offer to meet the skills and interests of our intake. 

Core RE, Citizenship, PSHE and IT continue at KS4 to ensure that the Community and Respect parts of our ethos continue to feature strongly.


At Key Stage 5 we continue to offer academic and vocational routes to our learners. Our breadth of offer includes Languages, STEM, the Arts and Humanities. A fourth subject is encouraged for our most able learners to broaden their skill set in Year 12 whist courses such as Financial Studies and Medical Science are popular for those students with less academic profiles who perhaps will go onto apprenticeships or vocational courses at university. Most popular subjects are offered in more that one option block maximising the combinations that pupils can chose from. The decision has been made going forward to offer only the full A-Level qualifications rather than AS levels in year 12. This will maximise learning time for students and teachers and will give pupils the time to thoroughly grasp key transition concepts in the first year of their course, building the foundations for excellence in Year 13. The EPQ is offered to students to allow students to explore their passion for specific subject disciplines with Enrichment in the 6th form comprising of a variety of sporting, artistic, study skills and life skills opportunities.