Curriculum Overview

Curriculum Overview

What our students learn

Our curriculum “makes learning challenging and enjoyable for all” enabling our students to “secure the best outcomes and remain lifelong learners who are committed to seeking truth”. As such, we offer a wide range of subjects, enabling students to explore the fundamentals of a broad base of subjects in Key Stage 3 before selecting a balanced diet of Key Stage 4 options.

We recognise the vital importance of knowledge in building a deep understanding of the world; after all, you can’t think about something you don’t know. Furthermore, we recognise that developing a body of powerful knowledge will allow our young people to participate fully in social, political, and moral debates thereby enabling them to make a valuable contribution to our democratic society. To this end, we ensure students are explicitly taught the foundational knowledge that they will need in order to understand the heart of each subject, creating an interconnected web of understanding through which they can interpret, analyse and evaluate the world around them.

The subjects that we teach are intrinsically interesting; we encourage our students to appreciate the authentic core of each subject and to value learning and knowledge for its own sake. Our schemes of learning and lessons are designed to be challenging and require our students to grapple with troublesome concepts, making connections, analysing and evaluating. In this way, our students are learning the value of hard work, persistence and determination.


Years 7 and 8

In Years 7 and 8 all students study: Religious Education; English; Mathematics; Science; Art; Design & Technology (including Woodwork, Graphics, and Food Preparation & Nutrition); Drama; Geography; History; Information Technology; Music; Spanish; Physical Education; and PSHCE.


Year 9

As students move into Year 9, they are able to make more decisions about the subjects they wish to study. All students continue to study a broad core curriculum, rooted in the subject of the English Baccalaureate: RE; English; Mathematics; Science; Geography; History; and Spanish.

This core curriculum is accompanied by two options subjects, which allow our young people to further develop their interests and talents, and explore new subjects before committing to them in Key Stage 4. In Year 9 students choose two of: Art; Business; Computer Studies; Design; Drama; Food; French; Health and Social Care; Music; and Sport. Some of these Year 9 courses (Business, Computer Studies, Design, and Sport) can lead to multiple Key Stage 4 subjects, meaning that through their Year 9 studies students are able to understand the course that is most suited to their aptitude, interests and future plans.

At Cardinal Heenan we offer a holistic experience. In addition to the academic curriculum, we provide a wider curriculum designed to enhance, complement and support students’ studies. This includes: PSHCE, which gives students the knowledge, understanding and practical skills to live safe, healthy and productive lives; Core PE, which sustains physical and mental health whilst giving students the opportunity to develop inter-personal skills; and Study Skills, which enables students to understand how they learn and develop the skills required to be a successful student.


Years 10 and 11

In Years 10 and 11 all students study: Religious Education; English Literature; English Language; Mathematics; and Science. Some students take separate sciences (Physics, Biology and Chemistry) whilst others follow a combined GCSE. Our science curriculum is designed to delay this decision until students have had sufficient opportunity to develop their understanding, skills and knowledge of all three sciences.

Students choose from a range of options including: Art; Business Studies; Computing; Construction; Design & Technology; Enterprise and Marketing; Food Preparation & Nutrition; French; Geography; Health & Social Care; History; I-Media; Life Skills (ASDAN); Music; Spanish; Sports Studies; Personal, Social Development (ASDAN) and Physical Education. We are proud of the diversity of our provision which allows our students to make choices that are both appropriate and ambitious. We recognise that our students are with us for a brief five years of their life-long journey in education and, as such, we have deliberately designed a curriculum that supports them in taking their next steps, most notably at Notre Dame Sixth Form College.

In addition, during years 10 and 11 students continue to study PSHCE, Study Skills and Core PE.

Students are able to complement their timetabled lessons with a varied range of extracurricular opportunities, including sport, art, music, debating and charity work. All Year 10 students undertake a two-week work experience placement and there are a variety of enrichment opportunities on offer, including our annual pilgrimage to Lourdes, numerous international trips and visits to universities and businesses.

We are proud of our rich and varied curriculum which has been carefully constructed to meet the needs of our diverse school. We believe that it “inspires excellence by encouraging every individual to be the person that God calls us to be, in preparation for this life and the life to come”.

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