The Colmers Way: Our Curriculum Aim

At Colmers, our motto of Achieving Excellence Belonging Together and Challenging Mindsets is at the heart of everything we do.  Our Colmers’ curriculum is designed to open minds and open doors for all of our young people.

  • We will ensure that students achieve excellence by experiencing a rich curriculum that is broad and balanced for all.
  • Students will acquire powerful knowledge and connect their learning over time so that their learning sticks: the better we understand what we learn, the more likely we are to remember it.
  • Literacy and numeracy lie at the heart of our teaching in order to improve the life chances of all our students.
  • Students will have their minds opened by engaging with the best that has been said and done in a range of subject disciplines.
  • They will have the opportunity to achieve qualifications that open doors to careers and future happiness in the 21st Century.
  • They will learn about themselves, their communities and about Birmingham – its rich history and its diverse and innovative present. 

Every young person is on an individual journey during their time in school, a journey on which they will develop their aspirations, character and mindset. As our students move towards independence, we will support them to develop a positive sense of identity and purpose. We aim to help our students use and develop the powers that they have as learners: they are encouraged to be active participants in their learning so that they enjoy the challenges of using and applying their knowledge. We want their time with us to be filled with treasured experiences that help them know what it important and use that knowledge to achieve their ambitions.

We have designed a curriculum that allows our students to personalise the subjects they study in Year 9 and recognise their strengths and interests.  At the same time, we want students to follow a broad and balanced curriculum that prepares them for their futures and enables them to know and do more.

As a community of life-long learners, we aim to inspire a love of reading in all aspects of our curriculum. Reading is one of the most significant ways we can impact future success and we aim to provide all our pupils with every possible chance by exposing them to high quality, appropriately challenging and engaging texts.

Our goal is that students will read 800+ words with their teachers every lesson every day. These texts will be high quality and will focus on the powerful knowledge and tier 3 vocabulary that is the focus of the learning in the lesson.

The Principles of Curriculum Design at Colmers

What we teach and how we teach it needs careful planning and organising.  Our curriculum design will be completed by subject experts and will highlight the powerful knowledge for students, how they will learn it and how they will be assessed on it.   There are three components to curriculum design. These enable our subject teams to make our curriculum intent a daily reality in the classrooms.

  1. Curriculum Overviews

These will:

  • show a coherent, five-year (or seven-year for those subjects with A-Level study) journey for students per subject.  There must be a sense of progression through the units of work, units are not to be interchangeable i.e. Unit 1 must be followed by Unit 2.  Key knowledge/ concepts will be sequenced clearly with an understanding that students must learn these before they can move on.
  • align with the National Curriculum at Key Stage 3, though it could well go beyond this if we feel that students would benefit from this.
  • highlight the educational trips and visits to show where learning will be enhanced by wider experiences.
  • Schemes of Learning

These will:

  • reflect the Framework for Teaching and Learning, Feedback Policy and Homework Policy.
  • include learning objectives and learning outcomes for each learning phase.
  • identify learning hooks within each unit of work that enable students to understand how new learning is connected to prior and future learning.
  • explain the powerful knowledge, including Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary, that will be learned in the unit of work.
  • outline how students are expected to demonstrate what they know, understand and can do through regular, independent practice in ‘red zone’ activities.  This will be through writing lengthy pieces of work or practical/subject specific alternatives.
  • plan for interleaving and the recall of knowledge from previous topics/units.
  • sequence ample time to allow students to edit, upgrade and re-draft their writing.
  • sequence frequent low-stakes tests of knowledge and understanding
  • sequence un-seen assessment tasks that test the knowledge and skills students should have learned.  At key stage 3 these assessments should not be GCSE question papers.
  • include planned activities for the more able to deepen their knowledge and understanding.
  • plan scaffolded approaches for the less able so that they can access the curriculum.
  • Highlight opportunities for students to develop strength of character and the 9 habits of success.
  • highlight opportunities for links to be made to related careers.
  • Resource Banks

These will provide teachers with the range of resources per topic/ unit of study they need to plan lessons for their own classes.

These will include:

  • Do Now Activities (DNA), preferably that recall previous knowledge or prerequisite knowledge.
  • Definitions of Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary.
  • A bank of appropriately challenging texts for students to read, 800 words every lesson every day.
  • Scaffolded resources to enable lower ability students to access the curriculum.
  • A range of exam questions (KS4) or red zone questions/ activities and answers.
  • Low stakes test questions and answers
  • Model written answers for a range of abilities.
  • Resources which enable pupils to review and reflect on their work.
  • Knowledge Organisers or ‘Curriculum Overview’ slides so that the location of knowledge is shared with students and they understand the ‘big picture’.

Curriculum Implementation: Our Curriculum structure

The formal curriculum is taught in a two-week timetable, five one-hour lessons every day, 50 lessons across a fortnight. It is structured as follows:

Years 7 and 8

Subject Hours per fortnight
English 8
Mathematics 8
Science 6
History 3
Geography 3
French or Spanish 4
Physical Education 4
Religious Studies 2
Art 2
Drama 2
Music 2
ICT 2
Food Technology* 1
Graphics* 1
Design Technology* 1
Robotics* 1

*these subjects are currently taught in rotation, once a week for half of the academic year.

Year 9

Core curriculum Hours per fortnight
English Language and Literature 9
Mathematics 8
Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) 9
French 3
History 3
Geography 3
Religious Studies 2
Physical Education 4

In addition to this core curriculum, students are able to personalise their curriculum and will choose three ‘futures’ subjects from the following offer:

Futures Curriculum Offer
 Art and Design Art and Design-Graphic Communications Business Studies Computer Science Creative iMedia Dance (Performing Arts) Drama Engineering Film Studies Food Preparation and Nutrition Health and Social Care Music PE/Sports Studies

Students will study each ‘Future’ subject for 3 hours a fortnight. 

Years 10 and 11

Core curriculum Hours per fortnight
English Language and Literature 8
Mathematics 8
Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) 10 (12 for separate sciences)
Religious Studies 2
Physical Education 3

In addition to this core curriculum, students are able to personalise their curriculum and will choose three ‘option’ subjects from the following offer:

Options Curriculum Offer
  History or Geography   Two options from: Art and Design Art and Design-Graphic Communications Business Studies Computer Science Creative iMedia Dance (Performing Arts) Drama Engineering Film Studies Food Preparation and Nutrition Health and Social Care Music PE/Sports Studies

Students will study each ‘option’ subject for 6 hours a fortnight. 

Years 12 and 13

Students choose from the following range of A Level or BTEC courses:

  • Art and Design
  • Biology
  • BTEC Level 3 Sport
  • Chemistry
  • English Literature
  • Film Studies
  • French
  • Geography
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Religious Studies
  • Sociology

In addition, students will study for either an Arts or Sports Leaders Award and complete an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ).

Curriculum Rationale

  • Prominence is given to literacy and numeracy as we believe this will enable our pupils to improve their life chances, regardless of background and ability. 
  • We give curriculum time (one hour a week) to PSHE and to core RS (one hour a week) as we believe that we need to strengthen our school culture and sense of belonging to promote ambition and resilience and build character.
  • We have maintained the creative and performing arts across years 7 and 8 so that our students are given cultural capital, a chance to study great artists and be creative. 
  • We have strengthened technology to introduce all students to the design process.  In particular, we believe our pupils should be able to cook a basic meal for themselves or their family and understand how to do so on a budget.
  • ICT is taught to all in years 7 and 8 as we believe that understanding the construction as well as the many uses of IT gives our pupils a chance to think logically, problem solve and be creative.  In addition, there are clear career paths in the midlands that pupils can relate to and be inspired by.
  • We have a cohort of more able students who are taught separate science GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry or Physics.  All other students follow Combined Science Trilogy.
  • We balance vocational courses with GCSE courses. We do not have rigid ‘pathways’, all students regardless of ability can mix and match, though we guide some students more carefully than others. Our less able students also complete entry level qualifications in mathematics.
  • Ebacc entry is not compulsory. All students do have to study either history or geography but French remains an option.
  • Year 9 is designed to support students to prepare for Key Stage 4 while maintaining an essentially broad and balanced Key Stage 3 curriculum that meets the National Curriculum requirements in full. Our students all follow the EBacc subjects, RS and PE. They are also given the chance to personalise their curriculum and choose three ‘futures’ options.  This enables students to pursue subjects of particular interest before finalising their options in Year 10.  

Key Curriculum Documents

Subject Overviews