Curriculum Approaches

The approach to curriculum at Ashton Park School

Broad curriculum, deep subject experience

At Ashton Park we believe that it is important to keep our school curriculum as broad as possible for as long as possible. We have a three year KS3 where students get to experience both more academically traditional subjects and more creative subjects as we see the value of both. At KS4 we emphasise the importance of EBacc subjects but keep other options free to allow breadth. The KS5 curriculum provides specialism, depth and skills to equip our students in the 21st century by offering a full range of academic and technical qualifications.

The best teaching and learning is where the curriculum is delivered as unique subject disciplines rather than combining them together. Our subject specific curriculums are designed by subject specialists who are given the freedom to plan deliberately selected content in a sequence which aids understanding and supports progress.

Respecting the individuality of different subjects

Each of our subject areas has a clear rationale about the purpose of their subject. Using this rationale as a foundation, curriculum areas are given autonomy to produce a curriculum plan for each year where they have chosen the most powerful knowledge for our pupils to learn. These curriculum maps are available on our school website.

Core knowledge identified and emphasised

We are moving towards a curriculum where core knowledge is identified and made transparent to staff, students and parents. In each unit, specialists have identified the core knowledge that we believe our students should have. This core knowledge is presented on knowledge organisers and these are shared with our students and are available on our school website. This will help our students to understand the expectations we hold about the importance of knowledge and allow us to plan for this and utilise it in lessons. 

Knowledge organisers for most subjects are ready for Year 7 on our website and will be ready for future years over the next academic year. We are conscious that these are not static documents and encourage staff to review them and evolve them over time.

Utilising subject specific pedagogy to tackle curricular barriers to learning

Our subject experts have designed schemes of learning that identify potential barriers to learning and common misconceptions. They then use this knowledge to choose specific pedagogical tools to tackle this. As a school we have emphasised the importance of knowledge recall as both an assessment tool and, following guidance from cognitive science, as a tool to aid memory retention.

We are a school which prides itself on engaging with current research and our staff have access to a wide reading library and reading educational theory is valued. Our professional development for staff gives lots of time for subject specific development where outside speakers are encouraged.

Mixed prior attainment teaching prioritised

We strongly believe that it is best for all our learners to be in mixed prior attainment teaching groups as far as possible. This raises the standard of the groups and keeps expectations high and allows challenge for all.

However, we equally recognise the need for accelerated learning for some. As a result one class in English, Science and Maths will be an accelerated group. The members of this class will be constantly reviewed to ensure this is appropriate for all.

An enriching wider curriculum

The curriculum taught at Ashton Park School ensures that all pupils have the time to develop wider knowledge, gain opportunities and skills which will be needed later in life. The academic curriculum is underpinned by an emphasis on personal development, careers and British values that is delivered both in lessons and through our tutor and assembly programme.

At Ashton Park we also value the benefits of enrichment experiences. We encourage staff to design trips and projects that enhance our students’ cultural capital and take them beyond the environment of South Bristol.

How is the curriculum organised at each key stage?

Key Stage 3

Our Key Stage 3 is three years long as we strongly believe that it is important to provide our students with a broad and specialised foundation to build their future studies upon.

  • Core subjects are prioritised in terms of time allocation as we understand the value of these subjects in helping the learning of all subjects.
  • The rest of our curriculum is taught as discrete subjects to allow our subject specialists to design a curriculum with ambition.
  • Some of our students will receive an enhanced curriculum that is tailored to their needs in our Specialist Resource Base.

The number of hours given to each subject per fortnight are shown below:

Year 7 Year 8 Year 9
Mathematics 8 7 7
English 8 7 7
Science 7 7 7
Languages 5 5 5
PSHE 1 2 1
Geography 2 3 3
History 2 3 3
RE 2 2 2
ICT 1 0 2
DT / Food / Textiles 3 4 4
Visual Arts 2 2 2
Music 2 2 1
PE 5 4 4
Drama 2 2 1
Total 50 50 50

Key Stage 4

Our Key Stage 4 is two years as we follow the exam board guidance that the new qualifications can be taught in depth over this time period.

  • We give a sizeable amount of time in our curriculum to Maths and English as we understand the importance of these two core subjects in aiding our students in all of their studies.
  • Science is given an equal amount of time compared to options subjects. For those students who take the double award they have 10 hours, and those who do the triple science 15 hours.
  • All of our students have to choose one humanities subject (history or geography) or a modern foreign language or triple science as we recognise the importance of the Ebaac pathways and want to encourage our students to actively take at least one. Students are able to take the full Ebbaac as part of our options process.  
  • Students then have a further three option subjects. For some of our students this might be more Ebaac options but equally creative subjects are offered and encouraged as we value the breadth that these subjects offer.
  • For those students in our Specialist Resource Base, the curriculum offer is tailored to their needs.
  • All our students also have two hours of SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural studies) per fortnight. In these hours students will study RE and PSHE. This is a bespoke curriculum designed for our cohort and community.
  • All students complete 3 hours of PE per fortnight. In these hours students are encouraged to remain physically active and healthy. 

The number of hours given to each subject per fortnight are shown below:

Year 10 Year 11
Mathematics 7 7
English 8 8
Science 10 10
PE 3 3
Option A 5 5
Option B 5 5
Option C 5 5
Option D 5 5
SMSC 2 2
Total 50 50

Key Stage 5

At Ashton Sixth we offer a wide range of level 3 courses (A level and L3 qualifications) along with a level 2 course (Gateway to Level 3) and GCSE retakes in English and Mathematics.  

  • Students receive 8 hours teaching per fortnight for each Level 3 option.
  • Enhancement options are allotted timetabled hours. (EPQ 2 hours per fortnight, Core mathematics 8 hours per fortnight)  
  • Students are expected to take part in enrichment activities within school, and students have timetabled “supervised study” when they should be on site.
  • Full details of the subjects offer and exam specification followed in each subject can be found at https://www.ashtonpark.net/parents/curriculum-2/sixth-form/

For more details please read our Curriculum Policy.