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Curriculum Intent


At Barnwell the effective construction and delivery of an ambitious curriculum is key to ensuring that all students have the knowledge, skills and cultural capital in order to take advantage of opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.

Barnwell School aims to provide all students, particularly disadvantaged and those with SEND, with a breadth of inclusive opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom in order to equip them with the knowledge, skills, memorable experiences, cultural capital and character, necessary to enable them to become well-rounded, successful and happy citizens, who are capable of becoming what they want to be in a rapidly changing world.

The curriculum is designed to develop the knowledge and skills that students will need to succeed both in their studies and later life. All students have the opportunity to study a broad range of subjects in key stage 3 and a strong academic core of subjects in years 10 and 11. The EBacc is offered as part of the Key stage 4.

The aim is for all subjects to work together to identify key concepts and themes that are linked in their subject disciplines to support students in making cross curricular connections thus helping them to develop their understanding more fully.

All subjects are planned and sequenced to ensure that new knowledge and skills build on what has been taught before and the curriculum is designed and delivered to ensure that students are able to transfer key knowledge to long term memory. Interleaving is encouraged to replace the traditional method of block learning in order to improve students’ chances of committing learning to their long-term memory. Different topics are woven together, switched between and revisited at intervals throughout the year.

Curriculum Intent

The curriculum at Barnwell School allows our students to:

To support all students in their academic and social development, we have designed a personalised curriculum along the following principles:

Roles and Responsibilities

The Headteacher or designated member of the senior team will ensure that:

The Governing Body will ensure that:

The Senior Team will ensure that:

Heads of Faculty will ensure that:

Teaching staff and learning support staff will:

Students will:

Parents and carers will:

Arrangements for Monitoring and Evaluation

The governing body will receive regular reports from the headteacher and senior leaders on:

Monitoring, Evaluation and Review

Curriculum Leaders and Senior Leaders will be responsible for the monitoring, evaluation and review of this policy through:

Policy on Setting and Grouping

General Principles

Students are placed in learning groups which enable them to reach their full potential. In coming to a decision about the most appropriate teaching group, the following information is taken into account: subject, prior attainment, current performance, future aspirations and targets. Grouping are reviewed on a termly basis

Making links between subjects offers opportunities to teach students transferable skills. Therefore, the curriculum and the way in which it is organised for teaching and learning allows for development of students’ subject-specific skills and knowledge, helping them to recognise the links between curriculum subjects. The school actively promotes and emphasises links between subjects so that students make sense of what they are learning and are supported to make connections between what they have learned already and new learning.

Principles of setting and grouping at Key Stage 3

Students are taught in ability sets for:

Students are taught in mixed ability groups in the following subjects:

Principles of setting and grouping at Key Stage 4

Teaching and learning in core subjects are organised in ability sets. Most option subjects are taught in mixed ability groups

Principles of setting and grouping Post-16

At post-16 all students follow an individualised curriculum of option courses at level 2 or 3. Students are admitted to these courses on the basis of the entry requirements agreed across the Stevenage Sixth Partnership. All courses post-16 are taught in mixed groups covering the appropriate ability range for each qualification

In some subject areas there are parallel groups following Vocational level 3 and A-Level programmes. On occasion we may recommend that a student transfer to a more appropriate qualification within the same subject area.

Setting Decisions

Following research into best practice, as a general principle Barnwell will be flexible in the way in which it organises teaching and learning in order to meet the changing needs of, students at school, classes and groups.

A range of information is used to make decisions about setting and grouping:

On entry to the school and at various transition points, students will take a number of tests which provides the school with on-going information about learning that is used to tailor curriculum provision to meet each students’ individual needs.

At the start of Year 10 a short period of induction allows students to review option choices. Changes are kept to a minimum and must be completed by the end of September to maintain student progression. On rare occasions the pathway decision may be reviewed during this period also.

Curriculum Implementation

Years 7 & 8

In years 7 and 8 all our students study a strong academic core of subjects in English, mathematics, Science and Modern Foreign Languages (French, German and/or Spanish), Humanities (Geography, History, RE), Expressive Arts (Music, Dance and Drama), Creative Learning (Art, Graphics, Resistant Materials, Food and Textiles), PE, Pride/RE and Computing/ICT.

Barnwell Pride lessons cover the social, moral, spiritual and cultural elements of the curriculum all linked to core values. It also covers personal, social and health education, relationship and sex education, financial capability and British Values.

Cross curricular Theme Days are held regularly throughout the year to give students enhanced experiences that build on the strong Social, Moral and Cultural ethos of the school.

An additional lunchtime and after-school enrichment programme include a range of sporting activities, expressive arts, Coding Club and STEM activities.

Year 9

All students study a curriculum of English, mathematics, Science, Geography, History, RE and PE. Through Year 9, students have the ability to gain deeper knowledge and understanding of specific areas of Modern Foreign Languages, Expressive Arts, Creative Learning and Computing & IT. The options process is as follows:

Barnwell Pride lessons cover the social, morale, spiritual and cultural elements of the curriculum all linked to our core values. They also cover personal, social and health education, relationship and sex education, financial capability, and British Values in line with statutory requirements.

Cross curricular Theme Days are held regularly throughout the year to give students enhanced experiences that build on the strong Social, Moral and Cultural ethos of the school.

An additional lunchtime and after-school enrichment programme include a range of sporting activities, expressive arts, Coding Club and STEM activities. There is daily support for homework in the library.

Key Stage 4 (Years 10 & 11)

All students work towards national qualifications, studying a broad and balanced curriculum allowing a variety of different progression routes into sixth form, further education, and apprenticeships. The EBacc is at the heart of our KS4 Curriculum and we offer subjects in each area of the National Curriculum. All students study the core subjects; GCSE English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, Science (Triple or Combined), PRIDE (including RE) and PE. Students then can gain deeper knowledge and understanding in up to four foundation/option subjects.

Students receive guidance on how to select the most appropriate option subjects to meet their needs, interests, aptitudes, and aspirations.

Students have the choice to study GCSE and BTEC courses from the following option subjects:

GCSE: Art, Art Photography, Business Studies, Catering, Computer Science, Dance, Drama, French, Geography, German, Graphics, History, 3D Design, Music, Psychology, Religious Studies, Spanish, Textiles
BTEC: Construction, Health and Social Care, ICT, Sport

To further support some of our learners, a more personalised provision is also offered, which may include off-site learning via alternative providers on either a part-time or full-time basis

A full programme of events is in place to support this important phase in a student's journey, including:

*All of these events are online for the academic year 2020/21.

Sixth Form (Years 12 & 13)

The sixth form curriculum is delivered as part of the Stevenage Sixth consortium. Barnwell Students benefit from a highly flexible and diverse range of Level 3 academic and vocational qualifications.

Every student can study up to four A-Level/BTEC/CTEC subjects, agreed after personalised consultation sessions.

Sixth Form Level 3 Vocational Options:

Sixth Form A Level Options

Pre-Apprenticeship Programme

Sixth Form Enrichment

Sixth form students participate in a comprehensive enrichment programme including a week of Work Experience in the summer term of Year 12. A wide range of leadership, sports and mentoring activities are also included within the school’s enrichment programme.

Sixth form students also receive a personalised programme of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE). Within this part of the curriculum, students will continue to develop their independent study skills and receive personalised careers education and guidance. Students are fully supported in all their future career aspirations. A vast majority of students complete the UCAS application process; support for these students is exemplary, including the students who complete Oxbridge applications.

Portfolio of Experience


"Leaders have developed a wider curriculum which is broad and balanced. It provides pupils with a range of opportunities to learn in all subjects​"

Ofsted - January 2018

Should you wish to find out more information about Barnwell’s curriculum please visit our subject pages or email the relevant subject lead:


Contact email address

English KS3

English KS4 and KS5

Maths KS3

Maths KS4 and KS5

Science Years 7 and 8

Science Year 9

Science Years 10 and 11

Art, Design and Technology

Barnwell Pride


Expressive Arts (Dance, Drama and Music)

Humanities (Geography, History, Religious Education)

IT and Computer Science

Modern Foreign Languages

Physical Education and Sports Studies

Social Sciences (Health and Social Care, Citizenship, Sociology and Psychology)

Barnwell Show - Chicago
Jay Peak Ski Trip
Costa Brava School Trip