Our curriculum - broad and balanced

Norton Hill School offers a broad and balanced curriculum throughout Key Stage 4 (Years 10 and 11). Please click HERE for more specific subject information.

Unlike many schools, all students take a language at GCSE (apart from those who require intensive literacy intervention), as we believe in both the academic and cultural opportunities it offers.

All students are given the earliest opportunity to choose subjects they wish to specialise in. They may decide to continue with these specialisms into KS4.

IAG - information, Advice and guidance

Students are given many opportunities to decide what to study after KS4 in tutor time, PSHE lessons, assemblies, an options evening, and 1-2-1 sessions with members of staff.

Information is given to students, and posted on line in November of Y11.

PSHE lessons begin dealing with choices in Y10.

Options evening usually take place in December of Y9, quickly followed by a Parents evening, so students can see how they are getting on in subjects.

Students are given further opportunities for 1-2-1 advice during the rest of the year.

Assessments at KS4

Students are regularly assessed.

At Key Stage 4, assessments follow the exam curriculum. More details about each subject can be found here.

Students are also given 'targets'. These targets are for the end of Y11.

More importantly, after each assessment, students are given a 'WWW' (What Went Well) and an 'EBI' (Even Better If). These help the students understand where they have been successful and what they need to do to improve. The EBI leads to an improvement in their work – such as using paragraphs to order an argument – and is written in purple pen, to make it stand out as work that shows progress.

Reporting in KS4

• Students receive 2 Progress reports and 1 Full School Report each year.

• Parents also have the opportunity to attend a Parents evening.

• Staff and HOH are available throughout the year if issues or concerns arise.

Subjects covered in KS4

KS4 – CORE – everybody takes these. Please note that only English and Maths were able to use 9-1 grades in 2016.

Subject Qualification and exam board Number of 50 minute periods a fortnight Assessment for 2017 onwards Equivalent Average grade from 2016 % students achieving A*-A in 2016
English Language and English Literature AQA 9 9-1 B+ 33%
Maths EDEXCEL 8 9-1 B 24%
Science AQA 10 9-1 C+ 20%
Languages (French, German or Spanish) EDEXCEL 6 9-1 C 7%
P&B EDEXCEL 5 9-1 A- 60%
PSHE N/A Included in P&B lessons, and tutor time N/A N/A N/A
Games N/A 4 N/A N/A N/A

KS4 – OPTIONS – students choose 3 from below. These are usually given 6 periods per fortnight. Please note that NO SUBJECTS were able to use 9-1 grades in 2016.

Subject Present Qualification and exam board Assessment for 2017 onwards Equivalent Average grade from 2016 % students achieving A*-A in 2016
Art AQA 9-1 C+ 13%
Drama AQA 9-1 C+ 14%
Dance AQA 9-1 C- 12%
Computing OCR 9-1 B 45%
IT qualification EDEXCEL Y10: Distinction*-Pass
Y11: A*-G
B- 34%
Business GCSE EDEXCEL A*-G C+ 20%
Business BTEC EDEXCEL Distinction*-Pass C-  
Health and Social Care BTEC EDEXCEL Distinction*-Pass B 20%
Food and Nutrition AQA 9-1 C+ 14%
History Y10: AQA
Y11: WJEC 'A'
9-1 C+ 26%
Geography AQA 9-1 C 18%
Music Y10: OCR
Y11: EDEXCEL
9-1 B- 15%
PE EDEXCEL 9-1 C+ 15%
Product Design: Graphics AQA A*-G C  
Product Design: Resistant Materials AQA A*-G C- 11%
Product Design: Textiles EDEXCEL A*-G C 10%
Creative Media Production EDEXCEL Distinction*-Pass C  

Changes to assessment at KS4

New GCSE 'number' grades will now be used in KS4 to report your child's attainment in most subjects. This is a national change which has come from the Department for Education. The table above shows which subjects are now graded 9-1, A*-G, or Distinction*-Pass.

These 'number' GCSE grades will now be in the form 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 & 1, with 9 as the highest grade, and a 5 equivalent to a high C.

We will use the letters 'a', 'b', & 'c' to further divide these number grades, with 'a' showing students who are at the 'top end' of the grade, 'b' showing students who are in the 'middle' of the grade, and 'c' showing students who are at the 'lower end' of the grade.

The 'letter' GCSE grades of A*-G will be used in a few remaining exams, with '+' for those working at the top end of the grade, and '-' for those at the bottom end of the grade. These exams will gradually adopt the 9-1, as they are phased in by OFQUAL (the government department which oversees qualifications).

The table below shows you how the new 'number' GCSE grades compare to the previous 'letter' GCSE grades.

New Grades Table

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.

The Government are now measuring how many students have achieved a 'good pass' of a grade 5. This is equivalent to the previous letter grade of C+/B-.

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 (or 4/5) border line. At Norton Hill, we have always looked at the 'value added' to each student, rather than whether they have just achieved a C (or a 5). 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 a certain ability.

The Progress 8 will be used to report results from 2016 onwards.

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 Computer Science, 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 Norton Hill, academic qualifications have always been highly valued, alongside subjects which prepare students for vocational courses and careers. The EBACC and Progress 8 now encourage all schools to offer a curriculum similar to one we have successfully offered over the past decade. Noy only have our results proven that we can support your child in these subjects, but unlike other schools, we can now carry on doing what we do best rather than spend time and effort attempting to change our curriculum.

If you require further information about the curriculum, please contact Mr Phillips, Deputy Head, at the school.