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Our Approach

Year 7 to Year 9

We ensure that students are able to cover the Key Stage 3 National Curriculum during the course of Year 7 and Year 8 in the vast majority of subject areas. This is possible for three key reasons.

  • Our detailed review of the curriculum in each subject ensures absolute clarity about the knowledge, skills and qualities that students need to develop each year.
  • We carefully map the Key Stage 3 National Curriculum against the curriculum that is delivered across Year 7 and Year 8.
  • We invest in high-quality teaching and learning to ensure that the time is exceptionally well spent, following the transition from primary school.

The approach to the curriculum in Year 7 and Year 8 ensures that Year 9 can be used to consolidate the skills and content that are part of the Key Stage 3 National Curriculum and then to go beyond this minimum entitlement, ensuring a greater depth of learning.


Year 9 to Year 11

We use Year 9 to consolidate the content that is part of the Key Stage 3 National Curriculum, but also to go beyond this to ensure a greater depth of understanding than would otherwise be possible. 

Our ‘Pathways’ structure means that all students will continue to study a broad range of subjects that are linked to high-quality qualifications throughout their time at the school and fulfil the National Curriculum expectations for Key Stage 3 throughout Year 7 to Year 9. 

We provide opportunities for all students to access subjects that are often viewed as being traditionally academic, but ensure that this takes place alongside opportunities to study a wide range of other subjects, including creative and more practical subjects.

During Year 9, as part of our approach to ensuring we increase the depth of learning after Year 8, students will begin to study elements of the courses that they will then study until the end of Year 11. 

Schemes of work include appropriate Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 content that is blended to ensure maximum student progress. This approach has a number of significant advantages for our students and allows us to address four potential problems.

  • It avoids the temptation to ‘teach to the exam’, due to the challenge of condensing a GCSE specification into only five terms. We have sufficient time to study these courses in a way that ensures a greater depth of understanding. Our focus is on ensuring the learning is secure and can be recalled in the long-term memory of students. Our approach supports this by creating opportunities to revisit topics and deepen understanding.
  • Students are largely assessed through a number of exams at the end of Year 11. Our approach ensures students are exceptionally well prepared for this and avoids placing undue stress and pressure on students.
  • Schools that offer a five term Key Stage 4, beginning GCSE and other courses in Year 10, often narrow opportunities for students during the final years that they spend at the school. Our approach means that we can continue to provide a broad range of opportunities to build cultural capital and the wider skills and personal qualities that our students need in order to be successful. Many of these opportunities are integrated into the subjects that students learn, while others provide opportunities for students to go beyond this.

Personal Qualities, Skills and Cultural Capital

Our approach supports the development of the personal qualities, skills and cultural capital that our students need in order to realise their full potential. Key elements of our approach are outlined below.

Thinking Skills

As part of our ‘Inevitable Progress’ approach to teaching and learning, we use a range of thinking tools across all subjects and year groups. Students are supported to become experts in using these approaches and learn to do so with increasing independence. Many schools talk of a desire to support students to become independent learners, but at Sedgefield we use a number of practical tools to ensure this is the case. Amongst the key thinking tools are:

  • The Three Storey Intellect – used to provide a consistent language and framework within which students can discuss and reflect upon their own learning
  • Thinking Hats – providing students with a framework that enables them to think in greater depth about topics that they are studying
  • Thinking Maps – providing students with a series of visual organisers that help them to organise their thinking on the page
  • Habits of Mind – a framework for staff and students to better understand the personal qualities that they can develop in order to become more effective learners
Reading Skills

The development of excellent literacy skills is a key aspect of our secondary curriculum and we recognise that all subjects have a responsibility to support students in growing their core literacy skills. 

There is a focus on the use of effective ‘literacy scaffolding’ across all subjects and we also support students to build their tier two (increasingly sophisticated language that can appear across multiple disciplines) and tier three (subject-specific) vocabulary.

A vital element of our literacy approach is the use of the ‘Reciprocal Reading’ sequence as a way of equipping all students with the skills needed to independently extract the meaning from challenging texts.

Inevitable ProgressWhilst the ‘Reciprocal Reading’ approach is used across the school whenever appropriate, dedicated ‘Reciprocal Reading’ lessons appear regularly in the subject curriculums for English, Science, Geography, History and RE. 

For some students, weak literacy skills have been a longstanding barrier to success in Key Stage 4 qualifications and students have experienced particular difficulties in engaging with the subject-specific ‘technical’ language that is integral to the courses that our students complete in their later years at the school. 

Our curriculum model ensures sufficient time can be allocated to the development of reading skills throughout Year 7 to Year 11 in a way that a curriculum model that only introduced elements of exam courses in Year 10 would not be able to do.

Building Cultural Capital Through Enrichment

We view secondary education as being one coherent and continuous experience for our students, which should include a wide range of enrichment experiences that go beyond core lessons. 

Our established programme of enrichment activities offers outstanding experiences that students can use to build cultural capital during their journey through the school. 

We have established our LST Challenge for all of our students. There are six elements to the LST Challenge and, by meeting each of these, our young people are able to build the cultural capital that they will need to thrive in their school and for the rest of their lives. The six elements of the LST Challenge are outlined below.

Attend extra-curricular enrichment programmes and activities that go beyond the core curriculum.

Represent the school in sporting, academic, community and/or cultural events.

Experience activities that promote cultural growth within school and outside of the school setting.

Take part in activities that will develop core skills in presenting and collaboration with others.

Engage with activities that will raise aspiration and allow you to understand the education and career opportunities available to you.

Access activities that will allow students to appreciate and contribute positively to our local, national and global communities.


Curriculum Overviews

Specific details of what is covered in each subject during the school year can be found by viewing the curriculum overviews for the current academic year on the Subject Information page.


SMSC, Cultural Development and British Values

We believe that our school is outstanding in the way in which it ensures the social, moral, spiritual and cultural (SMSC) development of our students. As part of this SMSC development, we ensure that students are supported to understand the four fundamental British values (democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance) and are therefore prepared for life in modern Britain. 

Students follow a programme of SMSC lessons that comprises sessions in careers, citizenship and PSHE. These SMSC lessons take place fortnightly and the programme for the current academic year is available via the link below.

SMSC Programme 2021-2022


Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

At Sedgefield Community College, we believe that inclusive education means providing all pupils with appropriate education and support, alongside their peers, in all aspects of our curriculum (ie the planned activities that the school organises in order to promote learning, personal growth and development).

Further information can be found in the SEND Information Report. If you would like to discuss your SEND requirements in detail please contact the school to arrange an appointment.


Questions? – Who to Contact

Whilst we have made every effort to provide parents with lots of information about the Sedgefield curriculum, we appreciate that parents may still occasionally have a question. In this situation, parents are advised to contact the college either by telephone or email and ask to speak with Mr C Hutton (Deputy Headteacher – Curriculum and Standards).