The Curriculum at Casterton
The School Week
Children at Casterton are in lessons for at least 28 hours a week, or 6 hours per day, which is 3 hours longer than the national average. Over a year this makes a substantial difference, which is why our children make so much progress in the basics yet still have the time to enjoy the arts, sports and design subjects as well as an outstanding programme of extra-curricular activities. Children are also welcome to stay in ‘after school prep’ until 5pm which is fully supervised by staff
Key Stage Three at Casterton
Transition from Primary School
Your child’s transition to Casterton College Rutland starts with a fabulous induction week with us in July of Year 6. This induction allows us to ensure children feel confident and excited about starting secondary school while also allowing us to undertake a variety of tests to ensure their education at Casterton gets off to a flying start.
Years 7 and 8 (Key Stage 3)
Your child’s journey to success starts from their very first day. In Year 7 we give your child exciting and challenging work right from the start to stimulate their interest and capture their enthusiasm for learning. In Year 8 we focus on building their `learning power’ across all subjects in readiness for making their GCSE options in term 4. Our aim is for your child to be ‘GCSE ready’ by the end of Year 8 which means that lessons move at a rapid pace but classes are set by ability and your child gets a high level of support throughout.
All children need to be confident in the basics if they are to succeed in life and we assess very carefully where your child is currently at, before tailoring the learning to their particular needs. We use a wide range of sophisticated tests to identify their strengths and weaknesses and if they are behind their peers we assign them to an extensive and bespoke intervention programme which has proved very effective in enabling students to ‘catch up’. If they are ahead of their peers we give them more advanced work to ensure they progress at an accelerated rate and all our teachers are told to ‘teach to the top’ ability of the class, so that everyone is stretched. Sometime we set them ‘think hard’ tasks and organise ‘scholars’ lunches’ for children who are particularly able.
Diagnosis, Testing and Therapy (DTT)
We believe that practice makes perfect and competition is good but children must learn from their experiences and to do that we use a method called Diagnosis, Testing and Therapy or DTT.
In DTT we test children initially to find out what they currently know and understand, and then use this information to diagnose their learning needs and adopt the right teaching methods to help them improve. Their strengths and weaknesses are mapped out in a simple colour coded ‘aim higher plan’ which helps your child to understand the areas they need to improve.
After another period of time, we test them again to see how they have progressed and use the results to adjust their aim higher plan still further. It’s very simple and really effective.
The Wider Curriculum
The curriculum is built around rich concepts and big ideas such as `How Did Britain become a Democracy?’ or `What are British Values?’ and subjects are mapped to ensure they cover spiritual, moral, social and cultural dimensions to their education. Your child is also given a discrete programme of personal, social and health education by a specialist team through a dedicated programme known as the ‘Personal Development Curriculum’ (PDC) which will teach them to have high aspirations through a careers programme, and give them an understanding of politics, philosophy and ethics (PPE) to help them understand the wider world.
Exams for Progress
Your child will have three exams a year in every subject which allows us to provide you with three ‘Progress Reports’. Progress Reports show you how your child is progressing in three ways:
- Their basic skills, such as reading, writing, spelling and numeracy
- Their performance compared with their peers; whether your child is in the top 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% or 100% of their year group for each subject
- Their potential GCSE grade based on the current progress they are making. We measure this through a rigorous system of assessment known as SAGE
How SAGE works:
SAGE refers to the development of your child’s knowledge and skills in Years 7 and 8.
SAGE assesses the your child’s potential GCSE grade based on their current progress, Note that it does not mean your child is already working at this GCSE grade; it is about the grade they are most likely to get, if they continue progressing at their current rate.
Potential GCSE Grade
i.e. potentially top GCSE grades
i.e. potentially very good GCSE grades
i.e. potentially good GCSE grades
i.e. approaching, but not yet at, potentially good GCSE grades
Each subject has defined the knowledge and skills required to be working at each stage. Your child has to master all the knowledge and skills required for each stage in order to have achieved it. This is to ensure your child is very secure at each grade before moving on to the next one.
In their Aim Higher plans your child will be clear about the knowledge and skills they need to master to make further progress. They will find it difficult to attain Scholastic Excellence at first because the standard is very high but this is what they will be working towards.
There is nothing more important to your child’s success than their communication or literacy skills (written and oral). All students read in silence in school for at least 25 minutes a day in what we call DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) and their understanding of what they read is tracked through a system called Accelerated Reader which works hand-in-hand with Eclipse, the school library web platform. This will help you support your child’s reading and see the progress they are making. We recommend that your child spends 45 minutes reading a day, with around 20 minutes of that at home. If your child struggles to read or is reluctant we suggest you get them to read out loud to you.
The Writing Academy
All subjects explicitly support the development of writing through a termly ‘Big Write’ that focuses on your child’s writing skills in a variety of styles. The Big Write goes through a process that ensures your child plans, drafts and improves their work in advance before it is submitted in a process we call DIRT or Directed Improvement and Reflection Time.
Your child’s work is marked in such a way as to ensure that they respond to the marking and use it to consolidate and extend their learning. For day-to-day marking we use a system of Universal Marking Codes which focus on:
- identifying strengths and areas for improvement and acting upon them
- good spelling, punctuation and grammar
Your child is required to respond to codes the teacher places on their work, explaining what they did well, and not so well, in their work.
At least once a term a major assessment is marked using a system called SNAILS
Neatness and presentation
Attitude to Learning
Improvement (areas to improve)
Literacy (spelling, punctuation and grammar)
Set task (a task they have to do to either correct or further improve their work)
The key is that your child responds to the marking to make further progress.
Your child will also be set `Prep’ for each subject. The length and timing of their Prep will vary from subject to subject depending on the nature of the task and the frequency of the lessons. Prep is intended to set tasks that will ensure students are well prepared for the next stage in learning or are consolidating and extending what they have done already. All Prep tasks are on our online Learning Gateway so parents and students can check it whenever they want.
Key Stage Four at Casterton
Year 8 students opt for the GCSE courses they will follow in Years 9 to 11 in March of Year 8.
We have decided to introduce options to Year 8 as we believe that this will best place them to achieve to their potential in Year 11.
- Your child will be sitting new more rigorous GCSEs at the end of Year 11.
- The First Entry Rule introduced in 2014 means that your child will sit virtually all their exams in the summer of 2019 (BTEC is different).
- Your child’s overall achievement will be judged by their average achievement across 8 subjects called Progress 8. The diagram below summarises the subjects making up the 8 subjects and the progress is measured against the scores they achieved at the end of primary school.
To ensure your child is best placed to achieve to their highest potential we believe that by introducing options in Year 8 students can start Year 9 with a balanced curriculum which will give them plenty of time in the core subjects of English, Maths and Science and have more time to build up their skills and experiences in the subjects they choose.
It is not intended that students begin the curriculum content in option subjects before Easter of Year 9; this will give some flexibility in case they change their minds about the subjects they have chosen. The first four terms would be focused on building skills for starting their courses and by adding the extra two terms to the GCSE/BTEC it will allow more time to deliver the content so there is greater opportunity for adding depth to teaching and introduce wider learning opportunities.
Which subjects are compulsory?
English Language and English Literature
PHF (Personal Health and Fitness)
Personal Development Curriculum
*Most students follow a double award Science course worth 2 GCSEs, but some students will have the opportunity to take a separate GCSE in all three Sciences (Triple Science). This will be decided at the end of Year 9 based on attainment and will be taught within the science lessons.
Which subjects can students choose to study?
Choices include: French, Spanish, Business Studies, Computer Science, History, Geography, RE, Design & Technology (to include Textiles & Product Design), Food Preparation & Nutrition, Drama, Music, Art, Health & Social Care, and PE.
We will suggest combinations of subjects which we believe will be most appropriate as a starting point to the options process. These are outlined below:
This will mean that the student will study English, Maths, Sciences, French/Spanish, History or Geography and two other GCSE/BTEC courses. This will be a recommended combination where a student is expected to achieve a good grade in French/Spanish.
This is, again, a range of options based on the facilitator subjects*. This combination has academic breadth and is well regarded by Sixth forms and universities. Even for students not intending to pursue French/Spanish beyond GCSE, the addition of a modern foreign language to their suite of qualifications would be looked upon favourably.
This will mean that the student will study English, Maths, Sciences, History or Geography and three other GCSE/BTEC courses.
This combination of courses will offer access to the full range of educational opportunities beyond GCSE. With a core of facilitator subjects* (English, Maths, Science, History or Geography) all A level or vocational routes would be available (except for an A level in a Modern Foreign Language).
*Facilitator subjects are those subjects which need to account for at least two A level choices for students to be considered by the best universities.
Personal Development Curriculum
The ‘Personal Development Curriculum’ (PDC) which will teach them to have high aspirations through a careers programme, and give them an understanding of politics, philosophy and ethics (PPE) to help them understand British Values and the wider world. Students will also have Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) which supports our young people in their personal development through their early teenage years.
Each of these aspects is delivered by a specialist team and is age appropriate.
Aim Higher Workshops
Throughout Key Stage 4 our students will be involved in a wide variety of Aim Higher Workshops both within and beyond the school day. These workshops are available in all subjects and are intended to support student achievement through bespoke interventions.
Pre-Public Exams (PPEs)
To get students ready for the high stakes exams which they will sit at the end of Year 11 they will have at least one set of Pre-Public Exams each year as part of the testing cycle. These exams will replicate the ‘real exams’ in terms of duration and organisation. These high status exams will allow students to gain confidence in how to approach and prepare for their GCSEs.
KS4 Curriculum Structure