Somervale School

Our curriculum – broad and balanced


Somervale School offers a broad and balanced curriculum throughout Key Stage 3 (years 7 to 9) and Key Stage 4 (years 10 and 11). 







All students are guided to follow pathways that will help them access the next steps in their education.  All pupils take a language or a humanities subject, most take both at GCSE. 

All pupils in Key Stage 3 have an opportunity to take part in creative enrichment activities outside the rest of the curriculum, as we believe these experiences enhance pupils’ experience and skills.

In year 7, students study either French or Spanish, which they will continue to study throughout KS3.

In year 9, students are supported in choosing their options. More details of this process can be found on the options section of the website.

The spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of students at Somervale School (SMSC)


At Somervale School we recognise that the personal development of students, spiritually, morally, socially and culturally, plays a significant part in their ability to learn and achieve. 


We therefore aim to provide an education that provides students with opportunities to explore and develop their own values and beliefs, spiritual awareness, high standards of personal behaviour, a positive, caring attitude towards other people, an understanding of their social and cultural traditions and an appreciation of the diversity and richness of the cultures. 


The school will ensure that students’ SMSC development will take place across all curriculum areas, within activities that encourage students to recognise the spiritual dimension of their learning, reflect on the significance of what they are learning, and to recognise any challenges that there may be to their own attitude and lifestyle. 


This reflection will principally take place through PSHE, as well as tutor time and assemblies.


The spiritual development of pupils is shown by their:
  • ability to be reflective about their own beliefs, religious or otherwise, that inform their perspective on life and their interest in and respect for different people’s faiths, feelings and values

  • sense of enjoyment and fascination in learning about themselves, others and the world around them

  • use of imagination and creativity in their learning

  • willingness to reflect on their experiences

For example, year 7 students study about Rome and Christianity in History.


The moral development of pupils is shown by their:

  • ability to recognise the difference between right and wrong, readily apply this understanding in their own lives and, in so doing, respect the civil and criminal law of England

  • understanding of the consequences of their behaviour and actions

  • interest in investigating and offering reasoned views about moral and ethical issues, and being able to understand and appreciate the viewpoints of others on these issues

For example, year 10 students study ‘The use and abuse of drugs’ in Science


The social development of pupils is shown by their:

  • use of a range of social skills in different contexts, including working and socialising with pupils from different religious, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds

  • willingness to participate in a variety of communities and social settings, including by volunteering, cooperating well with others and being able to resolve conflicts effectively

  • acceptance and engagement with the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs; the pupils develop and demonstrate skills and attitudes that will allow them to participate fully in and contribute positively to life in modern Britain


For example, Sixth Form students hold a Christmas dinner for elderly members of the community each year.


The cultural development of pupils is shown by their:

  • understanding and appreciation of the wide range of cultural influences that have shaped their own heritage and that of others

  • understanding and appreciation of the range of different cultures within school and further afield as an essential element of their preparation for life in modern Britain

  • knowledge of Britain's democratic parliamentary system and its central role in shaping our history and values, and in continuing to develop Britain

  • willingness to participate in and respond positively to artistic, sporting and cultural opportunities

  • interest in exploring, improving understanding of and showing respect for different faiths and cultural diversity, and the extent to which they understand, accept, respect and celebrate diversity, as shown by their tolerance and attitudes towards different religious, ethnic and socio-economic groups in the local, national and global communities

For example, year 9 students study about Buddhism, inspirational people, suffering and evil in Philosophy and Beliefs.


For details of where SMSC is delivered in the curriculum please see the SMSC audit by clicking here. ​



IAG – Information, Advice and Guidance
  • Students are given many opportunities to decide which subjects are best for them at KS4 in: tutor time, PSHE lessons, assemblies, an options evening, and 1-2-1 sessions with members of staff.

  • The school employs a dedicated careers advisor who offers impartial advice on Careers. They also signpost opportunities for IAG within the curriculum, including visiting professions and careers events.

  • Options information is given to students, and posted on line in November of Y9

  • PSHE lessons begin planning for their future in year 8 and dealing with choices in  year 9

  • Options evening usually take place in January of year 9, quickly followed by a Parents evening, so students can see how they are getting on in subjects.

  • Every year 9 student is given guidance as to which pathway they should take. 



  • Students receive 2 progress reports and 1 full school report each year

  • Parents also have the opportunity to attend a parents evening

  • Subject teachers and pastoral staff are available throughout the year if issues or concerns arise



Assessments at KS3 & KS4

  • Students are regularly assessed in both Key Stages

  • At Key Stage 3, this is both a formal assessment, as well as informal assessment through classwork and homework. The formal assessments lead to a National Curriculum Level to help track progress and inform parents.

  • At Key Stage 4, assessments follow the exam curriculum. More details about each subject can be found in the options section of the website

  • Students are also given ‘targets’. These targets are for the end of each Key Stage (either Y9 or Y11)

  • More importantly, after each assessment, students are given a ‘challenge’ that they need to complete in order to make progress – such as using paragraphs to order an argument. They will use ‘purple pens’ to indicate where they have responded to the challenge

  • In Y9, the Core subjects start their GCSE courses during the year. Maths finishes KS3 in Year 8, and Science and English finish KS3 in April of year 9



Working with primary schools to develop better assessments

  • We are presently working with local primary schools to ensure that the National Curriculum Levels we use are applied consistently between Y6 at Primary school, and Y7 at Secondary school. Also, we are reviewing the use of levels in order to develop more effective assessment methods to help students better understand how to make progress.



KS3 & 4 – allocation and setting arrangements

In Y 7 & 8, the settings are as follows:

  • Key Stage 2 levels are used to initially decide Mathematics and English sets from September of year 7. 

  • Students can move groups if they need more support or extension. Students are in the same set for Science and Mathematics due to the numeracy required in Science.

  • Students are placed in the same sets for: English, History, Philosophy and Belief and Geography.  These sets are determined primarily by their level of literacy.

  • Students are in the same set for Languages, PSHE, Art, IT and Music, with the language studied determining the group.

  • Design Technology is mixed ability and operates a carousel to ensure all aspects of Technology are experienced by each pupil throughout the year, students will be in the same technology groups for PE


In Y9, the settings are as follows:

  • Students are in the same set for Science and Mathematics

  • Students are placed in the same sets for: English, Art, Drama, Games, History, Philosophy and Belief, IT, Geography and Music

  • Students are in the same set for Languages, PSHE and Design Technology, with the language studied determining the group

In Key Stage 4:


  • Students spend time preparing to choose their options early in year 9 with options evening in January. Students are given guidance on which pathway would be best for their future based on interviewing each student. Further details of these subjects and the options  process can be found under options on the website

  • In year 10 & 11, ALL students study English, Maths, Science, Philosophy and Belief, IT, Games,  PSHE (including Citizenship, Careers & Guidance and SRE)

  • In year 10 & 11, students can opt to study a maximum of 4 of the following; Art, BTEC Business, Catering, Dance, Drama, French, Geography, Graphics, History, BTEC Creative Media Production, Music, PE, Resistant Materials, Spanish and Textiles.

  • As a small school we are able to offer a wide variety of option choices by working in partnership with Norton Hill School.  Some Key Stage 4 courses are offered across the federation with courses on both sites.


The table below shows the time allocation for each subject.  If you click on the subjects next to the table, this will take you to a brief outline of each subject, the exam board and setting arrangements.



Click on the links below to find out
about each subject

Changes coming up to grading systems at KS4

Over the next years, the Department for Education is introducing changes to the grading of exams at KS4. They are swapping the A* - G at GCSE, and the Distinction*- Pass in BTECs, with a number from 1 to 9. Students sitting their Maths and English exams in 2017 will be graded from 1-9, other subjects will be graded from 1-9 for those sitting exams from 2018 onwards.  As more details emerge, we will keep you informed.


Progress 8: The new school measure


The new measure that the Department for Education will use to judge the success of schools is called the Progress 8. This will replace the present measure which looks at how many students get a C or above. Instead, the Progress 8 will track how much progress students make from KS2 to their results at the end of Y11.This will not affect how the students are taught or which topics they cover in their exams. However, it will mean that schools will need to ensure that all students are making progress, rather than just focus on those at the D/C border line. At Somervale School we have always looked at the ‘value added’ to each student, rather than whether they have just achieved a C. We are pleased to



welcome a government measure that allows us to continue with this best practice, and focus on the needs of each student, not just those of certain ability.



The Progress 8 will be used to report results in 2016.


The EBACC: Valuing the academic, and encouraging the vocational


Since the introduction of the English baccalaureate in 2010, there has been an increased focus on ‘facilitating’ subjects such as History, Geography, Modern Foreign Languages and computing, as well as the Core subjects of English, Maths and Science. These are seen as ‘facilitating’ as they are recognised by colleges, universities and employers as robust courses which help reflect the ability of the student. Students who take a range of these courses have a wider range of colleges and universities who are interested in offering them places.At Somervale School, academic qualifications have always been highly valued, alongside subjects which prepare students for vocational courses and careers. The EBACC and the Progress 8 now encourage all schools to offer a curriculum similar to the one we have successfully offered over the past decade.