Curriculum Rationale – Subjects


In the English department, we design our curriculum at KS3 in line with the National Curriculum with a clear intent to engage all learners and enrich their experiences in terms of cultural capital, while also equipping them with the knowledge and skills to be successful. We feel it is important that students gain a love for Literature throughout their English studies to incite a passion for the subject. We place an emphasis on the skills needed to be successful rather than repetitive study of the text for all students. These texts prepare students for further study through a rigorous assessment cycle based on the skills taught. Students are set through years 8-11 to allow for tailored, ability driven lessons with a focus on stretch and challenge.

As students move into KS4, they are prepared for the demands of the GCSE cycle due to the preparation embedded at KS3. Our curriculum covers GCSE Literature texts as well as a focus on Language. Students are enriched through topical language study which focuses on analysis of writing styles as well as creative writing. We place emphasis on the skills needed as well as methodology to achieve the best possible outcome. Our sets allow us to tailor methods to the student’s needs.

Our Key Stage Five curriculum is similarly structured with a direct progression of the skills acquired at GCSE. Following the AQA Literature B syllabus facilitates a pleasing progression in the skill of contextual linking, as well as close analysis of the writer’s craft to suit students who enjoyed these aspects at GCSE.

We also offer AQA Language at A Level; a popular and stimulating pathway that offers students a new style of study unlike the English studied at GCSE. Students study modules such as Child Language Acquisition and Speech analysis.

Overall, our two courses provide for a wide range of learners, from those who require the facilitating aspect of a demanding subject to allow entrance to top universities, to those with more modest aspirations and who might need a greater level of support.


In Maths, we cover the National Curriculum in KS3 and then the GCSE course in KS4.  Due to the increased content of the new GCSE, we start the course in Year 9, however, the topics we cover over this year are those, which are also in the KS3 National Curriculum, and hence the KS3 NC is covered in full.  With an increased focus on problem solving at GCSE now, and by starting the GCSE early, we are able to dedicate time to the application of skills within each topic as well as covering topics in more depth.  The early start also allows us to work through exam questions and students are ready to complete a full set of GCSE papers during their mock window.

Students are set by ability from the start of Term 2 in Year 7 to enable all students to work at an appropriate level and challenge, and get the support they need.  Setting is reviewed regularly during the year, and changes are made if needed. 


The aim of the Science curriculum at Abbeyfield School is to allow students to develop an enquiring mind and to understand the world around them. This involves building students’ knowledge of the methods, processes and uses of science from Yr 7 -13. They will also develop the skills required to investigate and analyse data.

At KS3 the National Curriculum programme of study is delivered in a series of Biology, Chemistry and Physics themed topics. The development of the working scientific skills is incorporated into schemes of work. Students with suitable ability and attainment, at the end of Yr 9, are invited to study the three Separate Science GCSEs in Year 10 and Year 11.

A Level 2 BTEC Health and Social Care is also offered as part of the Science curriculum at KS4 and is delivered by Science teachers.

At KS5 students can progress to AQA A Levels in Biology, Chemistry or Physics. This ensures that students with an aptitude for Science have an opportunity to take this further, beyond school.

At KS5 students can also progress to the Level 3 BTEC Extended Certificate in Health and Social Care.

BEAMS (Building English & Maths Skills)

Our Building English and Maths Skills (BEAMS) group is a large-scale Year 7 intervention, aimed at ensuring students are given a boost in key skills so they can access as wide a curriculum as possible during their time at Abbeyfield. Students are identified through conversations with primary school teachers and SENCos and with parents. Those chosen are the pupils who were furthest below age-related expectations for their SATS and who have reading ages below the age of 9 in year 7. Numbers are kept small to ensure a personalised approach is taken, closely following the National Curriculum expectations and schemes of work in English and Maths. To ensure students receive additional support with their Math and English they are taught Humanities in a project-based approach where further emphasis is placed on the key skills around literacy and numeracy.

Students are closely monitored and can “graduate” into mainstream lessons in either English or Maths or both subjects at any time during the year.

Business & Economics

At KS4 students have the opportunity to follow a GCSE Business Studies or a BTEC in Business. These courses prepare students for the world of work and develop an interest in business, the economy and the way in which businesses are run, owned and function. The different courses ensures students with different learning styles are able to access a course which we believe appeals to a large cohort of students and can play a key role in preparing them for the next steps in their educational and work career. 

Our post sixteen offer builds on students’ learning at KS4 but also provides opportunities for students to begin studying business for the first time at sixth form.  In addition to Business, students can opt to study Economics which has proven to be very popular and supports student’s access to university on a wide range of relevant courses. Economics compliments Business studies with many students opting for both but also provides an academic option for students who wish to specialise.


The Computing curriculum at Abbeyfield aims to give students the skills, knowledge and confidence needed to be safe and effective creators and users of digital technology. This involves developing their knowledge of computer science, the core principles on which the technology is built, and information technology, the tools with which it is created.

At KS3 the National Curriculum programme of study is delivered through termly computer science, information technology or digital literacy focused topics. Cross-curricular and real-world links are made where possible and the delivery is holistic, requiring students to use a range of computing skills each term. This enables them to develop a more informed understanding of the digital world around them and transferrable skills that lead to digital literacy.

At KS4, students can specialise in computer science or vocational information technology. For those not specialising, the Computing National Curriculum continues in related activities in other curriculum areas. Students are also kept up-to-date with changing technology and associated risks in PSHE lessons. This deepens their understanding of computing and those not specialising are not precluded from further study.

At KS5, students can progress to A Level Computer Science or the BTEC Level 3 Extended Certificate in Information Technology. Both of which are excellent preparation for further and higher education.


The aim of the Creative Arts curriculum at Abbeyfield School is to further develop our students’ creativity, sense of experimentation, and confidence in the application of skills in Music, Art, Photography and Drama.

At Key Stage 3, students study Art, Music and Drama on a carousel, following the national curriculum, which not only prepares students for GCSE courses in the creative subjects, but also enables our students the opportunity to develop well rounded creative skills, which they can apply outside of the department, in their other subjects.

At Key Stage 4 and 5, students have the opportunity to study Art, Music, Drama, and Photography, the latter being a very popular course. We follow Edexcel, AQA, and Eduqas exam boards, offering the students a mixture of practical and theoretical work, building coursework portfolios and applying the skills learnt during Key Stage 3.

Design & Technology

The aim of the Design and Technology curriculum at Abbeyfield School is to inspire rigour, practicality, responsible consumerism and thoughtful mindful creativity through a number of real life design tasks.

Using creativity and imagination, pupils design and make products that solve real and relevant problems within a variety of contexts, considering their own and others’ needs, wants and values. They acquire a broad range of subject knowledge and draw on disciplines such as mathematics, science, engineering, computing and art. Pupils learn how to take risks, becoming resourceful, innovative, enterprising and capable citizens. Through the evaluation of past and present design and technology, they develop a critical understanding of its impact on daily life and the wider world.

At KS3 the National Curriculum programme of study is delivered in a series of Textiles, Resistant materials, Graphics and CAD based projects. The development of knowledge, understanding and skills needed to engage in an iterative process of designing and making, underpins the teaching and learning.


Humanities is delivered across three main subjects at KS3 and KS4 (Geography, History and Religious Education) alongside Psychology and Sociology at KS5. Whilst these subjects hold their own distinct qualities, they are all intrinsically linked by people; how they have shaped the world, the environment and our identity. Our aim is to develop students’ understanding of these links and for them to gain an appreciation of the world in which they live. With teaching and learning at the core, we seek to develop inquisitive, interested and enthusiastic young people who have an ability to ask questions of the world around them.

RE is also delivered through the PHSE programme and through Humanities events such as a Holocaust Remembrance Day. Geography and History both follow the National Curriculum whilst RE follows the National guidance alongside that from SACRE.

At KS4, all Humanities subjects are offered at GCSE level. Both Geography and History form part of the EBacc and have seen a steady increase in recent years. Religious Studies also continues to be delivered within PSHE at KS4 (as well at KS5).

At KS5 students continue to be able to access a broad and balanced curriculum as the department offers 5 A-Levels (Geography, History, Philosophy, Sociology and Psychology). Sociology is our most accessible course with slightly lower entry requirements and this, alongside Psychology, compliment the more ‘traditional’ subjects offered.


At Abbeyfield School, we believe that learning a language can provide students with an opportunity to explore the world. We aspire to deepen the curiosity of our learners and their understanding of the world around them. We strive for students to think about things in a different way, building on the foundations of Key Stage 2 language. 

We encourage and challenge students to take on difficult tasks, ensuring that they are always pushing themselves to produce good quality, accurate language. The National Curriculum Languages KS3 Programme of Study underpins our subject content, planning and lesson delivery. Our aims are the same. We strive for competency and fluency.

Students at KS3 will learn either French or Spanish and will develop the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing, essential to learning any language. Spanish has recently been added to our curriculum model, and along with French, this is a language that will help drive student mobility in the wider world. Our newly re-written assessments, from Year 7 on, closely mirror the skills that are required for GCSE exams in languages. Developing linguistic competence is a concept that we foster in our students during their very first lessons.

At present at KS4, students can study French, Spanish or German. Some students at present also have the opportunity to study Spanish at GCSE as an ab-initio course. This is an accelerated course as it is delivered in two years. At present, students generally have no foundation knowledge of Spanish prior to starting in Year 10, however students who show a flair for languages succeed on this course. Through the introduction of Spanish into Key Stage 3, we expect to see more students opt to continue to learn a language as they go into Key Stage 4.

Currently at KS5, you can choose to study French, Spanish or German. This provides students with valuable opportunities to go on to university or employment armed with a qualification that makes them stand out from others. Language A-Levels demonstrate more than just communication in one language. They show a flair for communication across the board.


Our curriculum focus is ensuring that all Abbeyfield students have an enjoyable, challenging and high-quality experience of PE. The curriculum through Key Stages 3 and 4 is progressive and designed to allow all students to develop their physical abilities and understanding of performance. All students have PE allocated on their timetable and all will participate in a range of activities throughout their time at Abbeyfield.

For those students with an interest in studying PE further, we offer OCR Cambridge National in Sports Studies at Key Stage 4. The pathway for further study into the Sixth Form give students the opportunity of studying BTEC L3 Extended Certificate in Sport. These courses provide students with opportunities to study topics around sport, health and fitness, as well as further developing their physical abilities.

Wide ranges of extra-curricular opportunities are provided to further support and consolidates student progress in lessons.