Our Curriculum

…its philosophy and rationale

Birchwood is an 11-18 Academy with an 8 Forms of entry and a PAN of 240 students. We are proud of our inclusive and all-ability ethos, catering for boys and girls in Bishop’s Stortford and surrounding villages.

We currently have a two-year KS3 and three-year GCSE programme. This is currently under review but we do ensure that students in Year 7 and 8 have access to the full range of National Curriculum subjects and, from Year 9, have access to a broad range of subjects including The Arts / Technology and PE. We also have a taught PSHE programme which provides students with a wider understanding of RS, citizenship, finance, keeping safe, British Values and SRE.

The percentage of students following EBacc subjects has been rising, with 55% sitting this broad range of subjects in 2019.

Key Stage 3

Students in Year 7 and 8 follow the full range of National Curriculum subjects. These include:

Key Stage 4 / GCSE

Students in Year 9 begin a GCSE programme which includes English, Maths, Science and PE along with 4 other option subjects.  Most students sit 9 or 10 GCSEs in Year 11. We continue to offer a broad and balanced curriculum and appropriate weighting to EBacc subjects* means that students can follow a wide range of subjects including The Arts, PE and Technology related subjects.

*EBacc subjects = English Baccalaureate – English + Maths + Science + Geography or History + French / German or Spanish.  Current Year 9-11 students have between 55-60% studying EBacc subjects.

By offering a broad range of subjects at GCSE and then teaching each subject over a three-year period, there is time to ensure than knowledge, understanding and key skills are embedded. There is also time to offer enrichment opportunities such educational trips, external speakers and extra-curricular activities.

A comprehensive package of advice and guidance is in place help and support students through this process. We seek to ensure all students have access to a wide range of subjects, whilst equipping them with a core of subjects tailored to their future progression beyond GCSE.

To enable this progression there are three different curriculum plans for students to choose from

  • Curriculum Plan 1: is designed to cater to students following the EBacc suite of subjects. This includes the core subjects of English, Maths and Science. Students are also required to choose a languages option (French, Spanish or German) and a humanities option (History or Geography). They are able to supplement this with two further option choices. The majority of students in the year group will take this route.
  • Curriculum Plan 2: students also have the opportunity to study for an EBacc suite of GCSEs should they choose to do so. This includes the core subjects of English, Maths and Science. Students are required to choose a languages option (French, Spanish or German) OR a humanities option (History or Geography). They are able to supplement this with three further option choices.
  • Curriculum Plan 3: is designed to cater for a small number of students who will benefit from a more tailored suite of subjects. This includes the core subjects of English, Maths and Science. They are able to supplement this with three further option choices. However, students also have the opportunity to study for an EBacc suite of GCSEs should they choose to do so.

All students will receive an additional core entitlement to PSHCE. This encompasses elements of RS, Citizenship and PSHCE. This will be a non – examined unit. All students will also retain an entitlement to core PE.

Subjects currently offered at Key Stage 4 include:

Extra-Curricular Provision

We expect all students to avail themselves of the extensive extra-curricular programme we have in place at Birchwood to supplement their option choices at GCSE. This is designed to ensure students are able to continue to their development in areas they may not continue to study at GCSE.  For more details on our weekly programme of additional clubs and activities, please refer to the Website / High School / Extra-Curricular Activities link

Sixth Form Curriculum:

The Sixth Form applies a competency-based admission system – we offer a wide range of A-levels and Level 3 BTEC subjects. Access to these courses depends on a student achieving an agreed average point score and a specific GCSE level for their chose A level. As for GCSE, we have 3 distinct Curriculum Plans depending on GCSE attainment:

  • Curriculum Plan 1 – For admission onto Curriculum Plan 1 to study 4 A levels students should have a minimum total point score of 48 and the specific subject grade.
  • Curriculum Plan 2 – For admission onto Curriculum Plan 2 to study 3 A levels or 2 A levels & BTEC students should have a minimum total point score of 42 and the specific subject grade.
  • Curriculum Plan 3 – For admission onto Curriculum Plan 3 to study 1 Double BTEC and 1 BTEC single or A level students should have a minimum total point score of 36 and the specific subject grade.

Subjects to be offered at Key Stage 5 in the Sixth Form for 2020/21 include:

  1. Art & Design (Fine Art)
  2. Biology
  3. Business BTEC Diploma
  4. Business Studies
  5. Chemistry
  6. Drama and Theatre Studies
  7. Economics
  8. English Language
  9. English Literature
  10. Film Studies
  11. Financial Studies LIBF Diploma
  12. Football Academy BTEC Extended Diploma
  13. French
  14. Geography
  15. German
  16. History
  1. IT BTEC Certificate
  2. Mathematics
  3. Mathematics Further
  4. Media Studies
  5. Music
  6. Performing Arts (Dance) BTEC
  7. Philosophy and Ethics RS
  8. Physical Education
  9. Physics
  10. Politics
  11. Product Design D&T
  12. Psychology
  13. Sociology
  14. Spanish
  15. Sport Studies BTEC Diploma

Sixth Form Enrichment Programme

In addition to their curriculum plan, we offer a wide range of enrichment options to complement A-Level or Level 3 BTEC qualifications to ensure that our students receive a well-rounded Post-16 education (as shown to the right)

Sixth Form Enrichment