The Key Stage 3 Core Curriculum is applied and adapted in English, Mathematics and Science to meet the needs of the pupils and best prepare them for GCSEs.
All pupils follow a programme of lessons in Art, Classics, Computing/Technology, Drama, Geography, History, Library Skills, Music, PE, and Religious Studies as well as one Foreign Language (French, German or Spanish). In Years 8 and 9 the vast majority of students are offered a choice of studying an additional Modern Foreign Language or Latin.
Personal and Citizenship Education (PACE), including Relationship and Sex Education, is a timetabled lesson. Elements of citizenship are also addressed through assemblies and other areas of the curriculum.
Our department will excite, enthuse and inspire our young budding artists! The Year 7 and 8 curriculum is delivered through a series of mini projects developing critical analysis and understanding of Artists, Art movements and Cultural Art, as well as learning a wide variety of core key skills and having the opportunity to explore a range of materials leading to a personalised outcome.
In Year 9 pupils build upon core skills learnt in Year 7 and 8, expanding their contact with materials and processes including Photoshop, clay, graphical designs and textile mixed media outcomes. During Year 9 pupils experience a series of specialist projects, designed to emulate our four GCSE disciplines, giving them the opportunity to make a well informed decision for options at GCSE. We believe that this provides a strong platform of knowledge and skills for pupils who wish to further their studies and study Art at GCSE level.
Our mission is to build confidence and encourage pupils to take ownership of their work and to develop their thinking into creative ideas.
The aim of careers education in Key Stage 3 is to introduce pupils to the working world, the vocabulary associated with it, and the wide range of possible careers that they could pursue. They will start thinking about what they personally would want from a career, and will start to develop their skills on how to investigate careers further. They will think about critical employability skills or qualifications that would be needed for different careers, and through identifying their own personal traits, strengths and skills, will start to develop a long-term action plan. They will also experience a workplace through a work shadowing day. At the end of Key Stage 3, pupils will be encouraged to use the careers resources they have been introduced to to help inform their GCSE decisions.
Key Stage 3 Classics gives a broad overview of the ancient world, introducing pupils to some of the key differences between modern and ancient life. It aims to foster a curiosity for other cultures and an enjoyment of the ancient world that will prepare them well for further study, both in Classical subjects and in other subjects through cross-curricular links. The topics of study have been chosen to allow pupils to access and enjoy the ancient world, to develop their skills in creativity, and to allow them to make ethical judgements about ancient life and mythology. We build on prior knowledge that pupils have gained from their study of Greeks or Romans at Key Stage 2, or from their own reading. The curriculum also gives pupils an introduction to ancient languages, with taster lessons in Latin designed to develop their skills of problem solving and analysis, and to develop an interest in ancient languages.
The intent of the computing curriculum is to introduce pupils to as many different aspects of computing and technology as possible, addressing HTML coding, website design, E-safety, python coding and cryptography. We want students to become familiar and comfortable with using a broad range of software and develop their coding skills, thereby laying the foundation for successful study at GCSE.
- Design & Technology
The intent of the Design & Technology (D&T) curriculum is to enable pupils to work confidently and independently to design and make high-quality prototypes and finished products. Pupils have the opportunity to work in a variety of contexts, which reflect the real world. Pupils will be able to analyse, evaluate and test their ideas and products, and the work of others, helping them to develop their creative, technical and practical skills.
The D&T curriculum is delivered in the form of folder work to help create a framework for pupils to work within. Pupils are supplied with the project context, a client-based design brief and a practical work specification to help them focus their research, design ideas and practical work.
In Year 7, the intent is to introduce pupils to the concept of designing and making products to solve everyday problems. Pupils will have the opportunity to develop their creativity and communication skills by participating in an international invention competition. Practical skills and knowledge will be developed through working with resistant materials. Pupils are taught how to work safely and independently in order to give them the practical competency to transform their design ideas into working practical outcomes. Projects focus on cultural influences, architectural design and recycling.
In Year 8, the intent is to further develop the pupils’ knowledge of using modern materials and CAD. Pupils will have the opportunity to create products that can be disassembled and recycled, and products that include different types of mechanical devices.
In Year 9, the intent is to develop pupils’ practical dexterity and understanding the work of famous designers. Pupils will have the opportunity to develop their Silversmithing skills, and use new materials and CADCAM.
Key Stage 3 Drama enables pupils to develop their confidence as performers and communicators.
In Year 7, Drama focusses on developing pupils’ understanding of the history of theatre and its traditions including pantomime and different types of staging and theatre from other parts of the world. They also learn the foundational physical and vocal skills required to devise an impressive performance, as well as working with short scripts, with an emphasis on teamwork.
Year 8 Drama develops students’ knowledge and skills further through learning more about archetypes in the Melodrama unit and Victorian theatre as well as Italian Commedia, slapstick and a unit on Greek chorus. They will begin working more with script, and develop their devising skills moving into ensemble work.
Year 9 cultivates these skills further in order to facilitate Drama GCSE-style practical work and theoretical understanding, building their analysis and evaluation skills regarding Live Performance. Pupils have the exciting opportunity to create their own devised performance, which is investigated and developed proactively by the pupils. They also study a GCSE-level scripted text through theoretical and practical exploration.
The Key Stage 3 curriculum at Watford Grammar School for Girls aims to inspire a life-long love of English and reading. We aim for our students to grow and flourish in their understanding, skills and confidence, with the secure foundation they need for the GCSE course. The English curriculum at Key Stage 3 equips the pupils with tools to advance their imagination and creativity, as well as comprehension, inference and analysis.
Pupils study whole texts, actively investigating poetry, prose, non-fiction and drama. Furthermore, they are encouraged to be adventurous writers of both fiction and non-fiction. Pupils become independent readers by means of a series of active reading projects and confident orators through opportunities to speak to their whole class.
Key Stage 3 Geography takes a thematic approach to learning, focusing on the ‘local’ in year 7 and expanding this to the ‘global’ in years 8 and 9. This exposes our pupils to a range of complex local and global issues that provide them with an insight into GCSE and A Level Geography. There is a strong emphasis on fieldwork throughout Key Stage 3 and the development of a range of geographical skills. We teach a broad range of academically rigorous topics that aim to inspire future Geographers and push our students to challenge the world around them. There is an emphasis on enquiry-led learning that promotes independence and decision-making. Key Stage 3 Geography aims to have a good balance between the physical and human sides of the subject and provide all pupils with the skills and knowledge needed to develop their love of the subject in later Key Stages.
During years 7-9, after introducing the discipline of History to our pupils, we focus our work on the over-arching questions that take in British, European and World history between 1066 and 1994. Pupils are introduced to a range of thought-provoking and diverse topics to encourage a love of the subject. They undertake regular assessments that pre-figure GCSE History examinations so that they are developing the key skills of an historian, as well as gaining an understanding of significant events and individuals through time. Pupils consistently build on their skills so by the time they reach Year 9, they will be able to produce independent, evaluative work, often with an individual focus.
Latin at Key Stage 3 aims to instil in pupils an early appreciation for the ancient language, alongside an understanding of the people who spoke it and the world they lived in. Language is taught alongside cultural material, allowing pupils to make links between language and culture which prepares them well for further study at higher levels. Pupils learn the foundations of Latin grammar, vocabulary and syntax, and develop their skills in translation, comprehension and composition. Pupils follow the Cambridge Latin Course, which involves careful linguistic progression and allows pupils to build on their prior learning as they encounter more complex grammatical forms and longer, more challenging sentences. The course makes use of inductive learning, allowing pupils to develop into perceptive and logical thinkers, with an appreciation for other cultures and ways of life.
In Years 7 – 11, our intent is to foster a love of the subject through enthusiastic and well-informed teaching that inspires the students’ interest and curiosity. On entering the school, we build on the knowledge and skills covered in primary school. Opportunities are provided for all learners to develop confidence as well as being challenged with new and interesting concepts. We highly value the opportunity for our students to solve problems and provide many opportunities for this to happen, including competitions, group work and real-life contexts. Students will make use of technology in a way that is relevant to modern life. In order to facilitate the most supportive and effective delivery of the curriculum, we teach our students in groups determined by the outcome of carefully-devised in-house assessments. As students move through Key Stage 3 and 4 they are able to see the connections between different aspects of mathematics and make links to other subjects in the school curriculum. This is a skill that they will be able to employ in their future studies and careers.
Through our teaching and extracurricular activities, we engage, inspire and stimulate in a way that encourages many of our students to continue to study the subject beyond GCSE.
- Modern Languages
The Modern Languages Department is currently changing its Key Stage 3 curriculum.
In Years 7 and 8, learning is carefully planned to support progression for the vast majority of learners at Key Stage 3 within a ‘low exposure foreign language setting’ ( i.e., not learning a language in an immersion course.) Progression is determined by the functions of grammar, and the frequency and usefulness of vocabulary and phonics, and avoids introducing too much language too fast. In general, this means that phonics learning is paced, and involves the explicit teaching of new sound-symbol correspondences (SSC) which are taught initially in Y7, followed by integrated revisiting and consolidation throughout Year 8. Vocabulary is introduced in blocks of ten new words, on average, per week, in sets of words from different parts of speech, including the most common verbs. It is selected on the basis of word frequency and additionally informed by scrutiny of the awarding body vocabulary lists, learner choice and context appropriateness. For grammar, no more than one new grammatical function is taught every two weeks.
In Year 9, students learn a range of vocabulary from different topic areas. They are taught the phonetical structures of the language to help with pronunciation and spelling. They are introduced to new grammatical structures which are practised using different activities such as games and other tasks. Students develop the skills of production, speaking and writing through different means, such as pair work and group work. Listening and reading tasks are used to practise new vocabulary and to develop the skills of passive understanding.
At Key Stage 3, we aim to develop a life-long love and curiosity about all kinds of music. We promote a ‘can-do’ attitude and focus on developing practical skills for all students in composition and performance, with regular opportunities to develop and extend their skills on keyboard, ukulele, guitar and voice. Learning is always very active and delivered through a wide range of group, paired and individual tasks, creating opportunities for collaboration and teamwork and enveloping many essential life skills. The use of traditional music notation is encouraged, though teaching by ear helps to ensure that tasks remain fully accessible to all students. We embrace all styles of music and regularly use technology and sequencing software, such as GarageBand, to further enhance learning.
In Pace and Forum we equip our students with the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to keep themselves healthy and safe and prepare for life, work and study in modern Britain and beyond. At the core of our program lies our belief that our students need to build the resilience to be able to cope within a changing society. Personal growth is at the heart of what we do, therefore we provide opportunities for our students to reflect on and clarify their attitudes and values. We aim to provide students with the tools to safely and respectfully express their own opinions and explore complex and sometimes conflicting ranges of attitudes they encounter now and in the future.
We have designed a curriculum that encompasses the whole school, ensures continuity from Year 7 to Year 13 and is reactive and consultative in its approach. Themes are delivered through timetabled Pace and Forum sessions, assemblies, form time and bespoke workshops led by external agencies and professional speakers.
The curriculum covers the key strands identified by the PSHE Association – living in the wider world, health and wellbeing, SRE. In KS5 the focus is expanded to include UCAS preparation and life beyond Watford Grammar School for Girls. Details of the curriculum can be found on the overview document.
Online safety is delivered as part of the PACE and Forum programme. Details of the online safety curriculum can be found here.
The PE curriculum aims to develop physical literacy, which can be described as “the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life.” At the heart of our delivery we look to recognise and reward students who display the core values of the PE Department. These are positivity, integrity, community, resilience, independence, teamwork, improvement and character. In learning these values through sport, we encourage them to be applied in a wider context.
Students will develop a love of Physical Education. They will progress their physical competence and confidence to embed skills and knowledge into an increasing breadth of sporting activities. Students will cover a range of invasion games, net/wall games, aesthetic activities, striking and fielding games and swimming throughout Key Stage 3. They will understand what makes an effective performance and will learn this through physically and intellectually challenging activities. Students will develop resilience and integrity, helping them to make informed choices. They will continue to improve their character and independence, seizing new opportunities to learn and have a desire to succeed. They will learn to support others in their learning and contribute and provide ideas.
- Religious Studies
In Key Stage 3 we take a thematic approach to learning and cover the beliefs and values of the major world religions. Alongside this, pupils engage in philosophical and moral debate encouraging deeper levels of thought about a variety of philosophical and moral issues.
In years 7 and 8, pupils learn thematically covering key concepts within religion such as prayer, holy texts and rituals and then studying a variety of faiths in more depth in year 8. They also cover an introduction to the philosophical nature of the subject through exploring a range of ultimate questions and discussing the nature of life after death, allowing pupils to engage in thought-provoking discussion and debate.
In year 9, the focus is on the moral and ethical side of religious studies, the intention of this is to engage and inspire future generations of religious studies students. Pupils cover mature topics such as the Holocaust, Prejudice and Discrimination, the Sanctity of Life and the Problem of Evil. This year allows pupils to use their understanding of religion from years 7 and 8 and apply it to decision making in contemporary society.
The Key Stage 3 course is designed to challenge, stimulate interest and develop enjoyment of the subject. It places practical and experimental skills at the heart of scientific study and embeds key concepts and ‘big ideas’ with clarity and accuracy as a foundation for further study.
Subject specialists have designed the course so that the major themes covered provide the basis for study at GCSE and beyond. We place a great deal of importance on the inclusion of stand-alone topics and projects to add to the breadth of experience and to engage, inspire and enthuse students both within and beyond formal lessons.