Curriculum Structure Rationale

Inspired to Achieve

Oakwood is driven by:

  • excellence in all that we do;
  • excellence in all that we seek to do;
  • ensuring that all pupils learn to their full potential in a caring and supportive environment; 
  • providing challenging learning experiences that develop pupils as successful, confident young adults.



With a strong emphasis on respect for all, we forge effective and supportive relationships with both pupils and adults in our learning community.  Together we maximise every opportunity to achieve success for all, inspiring pupils to achieve excellent academic progress.

After careful consideration- and in consultation with staff, parents and pupils, over a number of years- the curriculum we have at Oakwood High School has evolved. The curriculum structure is designed and has been developed to meet the needs and the context of our pupils and to deliver the whole school Curriculum Philosophy.  Please click here to view the Oakwood High School Curriculum Philosophy

There is a five year learning journey for the Core subjects; English maths and Science. This is designed to ensure depth, breadth and the development of skills; understanding is essential to engage pupils in learning beyond the exam and allow all pupils to make the necessary progress, thus, maximising their success at GCSE and providing a strong platform for further study and employment. Establishing strong foundations, the curriculum structure is such that the learning in English and maths is built up equally over five years. This equal split of curriculum time ensures that pupils have the overall time needed to develop in maths and English, but not at the expense of other subjects in later years.

All other curriculum areas have a two year curriculum for all, designed to provide depth, breadth and develop skills and understanding. During this time, pupils study a broad range of subjects: to widen their knowledge; make connections and develop cultural capital; emphasise British Values and provide SMSC education. The time allocated for all subjects is generous with a minimum of 75 minutes of curriculum time per subject in the first two years. With equal time and an emphasis on each KS3 subject, the curriculum content is wide-ranging and, consequently, allows Oakwood pupils to properly identify and build on their individual strengths.  At the end of the two years, pupils select those subjects they want to study in more depth and for which they have a passion. Beyond the core curriculum offer, they have the opportunity to study four additional subjects from the full range of those studied at KS3, plus, subjects that will be new to them, yet that may be relevant to future career pathways or interests, hence, creating even greater opportunities to maximise engagement and success for all. All pupils at Oakwood are offered the opportunity to access the full range of subjects and are not restricted by a pathway model; the success of this can be seen in the progress made by our more vulnerable pupils and our emphasis on social justice.

It is useful to remind ourselves of Early Transition and the opportunity for all pupils to ‘hit the ground running’. As a consequence of a thoughtful and well planned transition programme, which allows for two weeks at Oakwood before the long summer break, our Year 7 pupils are well-prepared for that return to secondary school in September. 

The first year of our Programme of Study in Year 9 allows for purposeful learning. It builds on prior study, which is used as the foundation for in-depth development of knowledge, skills and understanding in preparation for the rigours of examinations and further study, as well as providing time for enrichment activities.

The curriculum for Year 9, although the start of the pupils’ Options, is still broad, allowing pupils to have the opportunity to mix a range of subjects or pursue a more distinct individual pathway, which supports their particular interests or future aspirations.  There are a number of benefits to this model.

  • We build in effective retrieval practices and teach independent study skills.
  • Disadvantaged and SEND pupils are further supported in being more independent as learners and this facilitates in narrowing of the gap by focusing on areas they enjoy and with which they can engage.
  • We provide extended curriculum time for selected and core subjects (at least 2 x 75 minutes).
  • Pupils more easily embed essential skills.
  • There is greater engagement through depth of study and enrichment activities / external speakers or educators.
  • More time is provided to support pupils in our context with effective preparation for final GCSE examinations through a structured revision, recall and retrieval strategy focused on breadth, depth and mastery. 

To support the selection of subject choice for Year 9, there is an extensive progression programme delivered through MAP. Pupils are supported to make the choices that reflect their strengths and personal interests. Parents are engaged in this process throughout and have structured opportunities to talk to key staff. Subject staff are fully involved in the guidance programme and can make use of accurate and up-to-date assessment information along with knowledge of their pupils. The opportunity to make four choices allows pupils to follow, either, a focused, or, combined academic, practical and vocational route. The Year 9 Programme also allows pupils to make changes to their Programme of Study, if they wish.

Evidence suggests that Year 9 is a more productive year as a consequence of this approach and this contributes to our ethos of positive learning attitudes and our pupils actively pursuing academic success. Despite the complex nature of the intake, the school has attendance and persistent absence rates which buck local trends and are better than the national averages. Exclusions of Year 9 pupils are relatively low and our overall Fixed Term Exclusion rates stand up very positively against local and national averages. Our Year 9 pupils enjoy attending school.

Please click to view our Options Booklet 2021