Introduction to a Three Year Key Stage 4
Reshaping our Curriculum for our students’ success
Questions and Answers
How is the curriculum being reshaped?
We are proposing that students currently in Year 8 will begin their Key Stage 4 curriculum in Year 9.
What is the difference between Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4?
Key stage 3 has traditionally been taught to students aged 11-14. The Government sets the curriculum to be taught but there are no exams. Key Stage 4 historically has been taught to students aged 14-16. Exam boards then create exams (GCSEs) based on the National Curriculum content. Many schools already condense the Key Stage 3 curriculum into two years.
When do students choose their options?
Currently students choose their Options just before Easter of Year 9. We would expect Year 8 students to choose their options at Easter of Year 8. Reshaping the curriculum does not affect the option choices available to students – these will remain the same.
How will my child’s time in Year 9 be affected by this?
The curriculum change would mean that students would spend more time studying the subjects that they will be examined on. Any subject chosen as an option would receive more curriculum time. Subjects that are not part of the KS4 core curriculum or an option subject would not be studied.
How will my child benefit from this?
GCSE reform means that it is going to be harder to achieve all grades. By starting students on these courses earlier we hope to provide them with a much greater opportunity to succeed.
How is the school preparing students for the change?
Subject Leaders have planned the Year 8 curriculum this year to ensure that key content from Year 9 is also taught in preparation for the curriculum change. Throughout the year during form time and assemblies students are being introduced to Careers and ‘next-steps’ opportunities.
How will my child get to experience elements of the Key Stage 3 curriculum that won’t be part of their Key Stage 4 curriculum?
The Governors of the school are committed to ensuring that students are able to have full opportunity for enrichment. This includes Super Learning Days, cultural trips to the theatre, invitations for organisations to visit the school, clubs, competitions, school productions and trips to university.
Is this change just to suit the school?
The school is responding to the Government’s changes and designing a curriculum to help every student be as successful as they possibly can be. The school’s performance is also tightly monitored and so it is important that we adapt to the reforms they impose on us.
How does the ‘EBacc for All’ affect this decision?
The Government is expecting all students to study the EBacc (English, Maths, two Sciences, a Humanities subject and a Language). This does restrict students Options choices and does not suit the needs of all learners. We will continue to recommend students to select courses that will suit them as learners. For some students we will overtly recommend the EBacc pathway.
Have you removed any option choices?
The option choices that students will make remain the same as they have done for the past 2 years. We are asking students to choose and begin to study these courses a year earlier to help better prepare them for the new style of GCSE qualification.
Will students be able to study both History and Geography?
Students must choose either History or Geography as one option choice. They can study both if they decide to use two option choices but we do not encourage it due to the level of academic challenges this presents.
How will students know whether to choose a Language in order to complete the EBacc?
We will guide and encourage all students who are capable of achieving a Grade 5 in each of English Language, Maths, Combined Science, a Humanities subject and a Language to do so. This guidance is based on estimates from Key Stage 2 performance. This discussion will take place later in the year with a member of the leadership team.
How will students be placed into sets in every subject?
Setting of students will be identical to every other year. We will use Progress data throughout the year to ensure students are in an appropriate set. For certain option subjects it is unlikely there will be any setting.
Will there be opportunity to change subjects in Year 9?
Once students are in Year 9 they will not be able to change option choices.
Will students have the same teacher for three years?
We think that stability is really important for students and like students keeping the same teacher. However, timetable and staffing constraints along with set changes mean that this cannot always be guaranteed.
Why are students only given three options?
Our curriculum includes a core of English, Maths, Science and core PE. The time we commit to all subjects is high relative to some schools, which means that there is insufficient time to offer another option.
How will teachers support students in retaining the knowledge over three years?
Teachers are already developing strategies and approaches to ensure that students are able to retain much larger volumes of content and in greater detail. These will be refined further as we move through the new specifications. This challenge is one of our main priorities this year.