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 had a two-year KS3 and three-year GCSE programme with a largely academic curriculum offer at Sixth Form. Whilst the 3-year GCSE has helped us cope with the disruption caused by the Pandemic, we have recognised that students in Key Stage 2 and those in Year 7 and 8 have also had their education affected. Therefore, from September 2022, Year 7 and 8 will follow a broad and balanced curriculum which covers all the required National Curriculum Subjects.

Our Curriculum

Year 9 students will now have access to a broader range of subjects. All students will continue with History, Geography and a MFL subject alongside English, Maths, Science, PE and PSHCE. Students have then chosen 4 subjects from the following list:

  • Art
  • Computer Science
  • Dance
  • Design & Technology
  • Drama
  • Film Studies
  • Food Preparation & Nutrition
  • Media Studies
  • Music
  • PE
  • Religious Studies
  • Statistics
  • Triple Science
  • Business BTEC
  • ICT BTEC

At the end of Year 9, students will choose to study 4 subjects at GCSE from the list they have chosen alongside their choices regarding History, Geography and MFL. The majority of our students will be expected to follow an academic range of GCSEs through to Year 11, offering 9-11 GCSEs. For a small number of students with more significant literacy and numeracy needs, this range will be reduced to help support them to do well and succeed in the subjects they have chosen.

In the Sixth Form, we offer 35 A-Level and Level 3 BTEC courses. These subjects have entry requirements which are specified and detailed in the Sixth Form section of our website. Most students choose the equivalent of 3-4 subjects alongside a range of enrichment and leadership opportunities.

Our curriculum is organised and resourced in Faculties – by clicking on the areas below, you will be able to find out more about the courses on offer and the subject content being taught.

Faculties

Five-Year Curriculum Maps

Key Stage 3 Curriculum

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

Key Stage 4 Curriculum

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

Key Stage 5 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 2021/22 include:

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