The Year 9 Extended Curriculum
We are always looking at ways to be innovative in our curriculum design at CHSG and for ways to make our students’ experience more relevant year-on-year. In September 2021, we introduced what we call our Extended Curriculum to our Year 9 students. Whilst we have had a three-year key stage 4 at the school for a number of years which has always proved very popular with staff and students alike, we were becoming concerned with our two-year key stage 3 curriculum. Did subjects just cover the basics of key stage 3? Was there sufficient depth in curriculum areas? Did the curriculum act as a springboard to success at key stage 4? And were students missing out on their education if subjects were not chosen as option choices at key stage 4? All these questions led us to think of some alternative ways to cover the rigour of key stage 3 whilst maintaining a three-year key stage 4.
We decided which subjects would we want to continue into Year 9 for one year only. A decision was made to run with Geography, History, Citizenship, Religious Studies, Computer Science and Music. Each of these subjects are taught on a carousel basis with students studying each subject for half a term. We decided on three lessons per fortnight so each half term will provide ten lessons of each subject. We have split the year group into twelve classes (so class sizes are small around 19/20) and each subject has two classes taught at the same time and rotation occurs at each half term.
We asked the Heads of Departments to think carefully about the content of their curriculum for their subject as the classes contain students who have chosen their subject at GCSE as well as students who have dropped their subject at the end of Year 8. So, it was crucial to get the content right. It gave HODs the opportunity to go into more depth at key stage 3 than they would normally have done so it has proved beneficial to all students in the class those who are continuing and those who are not their subject at key stage 4.
The topic covered include:
Dance Music through Time (Music)
Global issues – which focusses on the UN development goals and how various global issues are being tackled at a national level by our government, and how individuals can use active citizen skills to make a difference where national action is inadequate. (Citizenship)
The Holocaust (History)
Introduction to Ancient Greek Philosophy Arguments for existence of God Ethics and morality Ethical theory (Religious Studies)
The feedback we have received has been very positive so far from both teachers and students. Areas of feedback include ‘Very positive: high levels of engagement with the material’ (History), ‘Students have responded well creating good publications, are happy to create what is needed and are enjoying the unit’ (Computer Science), and ‘It's an engaging unit that has interested those who will develop this knowledge further at GCSE (in Year 10) as well as those who have not continued with Geography as an option choice. It leads well to drawing on own knowledge, discussions and looking at topical issues/current affairs’ (Geography).
We expect this aspect of the curriculum going from strength to strength next year and beyond.