Curriculum Intent

The Barlow is a Catholic school: our Core Values of ‘Service’, ‘Prayer’, ‘Achieve’ and ‘Respect’ are at the heart of everything we do.  We set high expectations to ensure that every pupil excels across all aspects of school life.

Our intention is to ensure pupils make outstanding progress and that the curriculum is broad and balanced and both facilitates this, and removes any potential barriers to learning.  We want our students to leave with knowledge and skills which will not only create excellent life opportunities but will also inspire, challenge and safeguard all of our students, and prepare them for life in modern Britain, encouraging lifelong learning, so that all students may ‘have life and have it to the full.’ (John 10:10).

At The Barlow RC High School, we will support and teach pupils to be:

  • Responsible British citizens who make a socially and economically positive contribution to society;
  • Independent, confident individuals who are able to live safe, healthy and fulfilling lives;
  • Constructive contributors to our local, national & worldwide community;
  • Happy, successful learners who enjoy learning, make good progress and achieve well.

“Pupils will be responsible British citizens who make a socially and economically positive contribution to society.”

In our school we are totally committed to improving the life chances and aspirations of all pupils.  With a focus on the pillars of building character and resilience, we ensure pupils have access to a wider curriculum which provides numerous opportunities in sport, creativity, performing, world of work, volunteering and membership.  An extensive enrichment programme supports the development of pupils into well rounded citizens.

“Pupils will be independent, confident individuals who are able to live safe, healthy and fulfilling lives.”

Our school is inclusive and ambitious for all. We have high expectations of all pupils and provide opportunity for pupils to learn what is expected of them morally. Our Behaviour Policy ensures that pupils learn that actions have consequences and they can accept and appreciate differences between people. Whilst students gain knowledge through KS3 and KS4, we also want them to become learners who are enquiring, enthusiastic, engaged and mannerly. Pupils will develop high expectations of themselves and embed our key principles at the school.

It is also our intention at the school to ensure pupils have secure foundations for progression into further education and apprenticeships so that they are ready for the next stage of their educational journey. From Year 7, pupils receive careers information with a clear focus on the Gatsby benchmarks and this is supported through curriculum areas hosting a ‘Careers Week’ within Faculties. Over the course of 5 years, pupils receive a rigorous and bespoke aspirations programme that exposes our pupils to a huge range of voices and experiences.  This has led to our school holding the Gold Award for Inspiring IAG.

“Pupils will be constructive contributors to our local, national & worldwide community.”

At The Barlow, we pride ourselves on delivering a curriculum which has ‘Gold Standard’ SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural).  SMSC is ‘championed’ at our school in order to develop pupils as a whole, not just academically.  To ensure that they are fully prepared for life in modern Britain, pupils are able to envision ‘The Bigger Picture’ and show that learning is linked to the real world and experiences.  Pupils are encouraged to take part in a range of sporting, cultural and charitable activities.  Links with local and national business enrich the curriculum offer and help to contextualise learning.

“Pupils will be happy, successful learners who enjoy learning, make good progress and achieve well.”

Our school curriculum helps pupils to achieve high standards and make excellent progress.  At KS3, the curriculum is broad and balanced and pupils learn essential knowledge built around the foundation of a ‘learning journey’ to ensure they have a deep understanding across a range of subjects.  There are many opportunities built into lessons to secure the need to recall and retrieve previous learning so that knowledge is fully embedded.

Many pupils have a clear idea of subjects they enjoy the most and the least by the middle of Year 8 and offering some choice at this stage engages students as partners in their learning and leads to improved outcomes.  At KS4, the courses are carefully planned to ensure that content is thoroughly revisited and this undoubtedly prepares pupils for external examinations at the end of the course.  There is a plethora of opportunities for pupils, whom although they may not want to continue to study a subject to GCSE level they can continue to enjoy it for pleasure through our co-curriculum offer.

The development of pupil literacy including language and oracy is at the forefront of our curriculum as we understand how vital it is for our pupils to build confidence in communication skills not only for their time in school but also to prepare them for working life. We ensure pupils have opportunities in all subjects to discuss, challenge and build on other points of view and to develop their formality of language to ensure they can have the confidence to speak to different audiences.  Literacy and Numeracy skills are embedded across the curriculum.  Pupils who arrive with below expected mathematical skills are quickly caught up through expert teaching and incisive intervention. The school ensures that pupils are literate and numerate enabling them to flourish, thrive and access the next stage of their education, employment or training.

Curriculum Implementation

Our school believes that a carefully planned and structured curriculum is the foundation upon which excellent learning and development is built.  The curriculum is designed and implemented in such a way that it builds on prior knowledge and prepares pupils for the next stage in their education.  This ensures that lessons are engaging and suitably differentiated so that pupil spend the large majority of time in lesson working independently at their level of ability.  Faculty Leaders, who are experts in their field, carefully construct a curriculum that promotes a deep understanding of a wide range of topics.  Teachers plan learning that allows pupils to embed and recall knowledge through techniques such as interleaving of topics and spaced practice.  This builds firm foundations for progression to the next level and examination success.

Key Stage Three

At KS3 the curriculum is designed around learning journeys which encourages pupils to focus on deeper learning to ensure real understanding of key concepts. Each topic has a planned journey with clear statements setting out what pupils need to know, understand and do to reach their aspirational target grade.  The National Curriculum content is carefully tracked to ensure that pupils have covered all areas of non-statutory subjects by the end of Year 8.

Curriculum Hours

  • At KS3, pupils are divided into half year groups of BAR and LOW.  Students are set by ability in the core subjects and are taught in streamed but more mixed ability groups in the foundation subjects.
  • The average group size at KS3 is 24 pupils.
  • All lessons are 1 hour in length and there are 25 lessons per week.
  • SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural) and FBV (Fundamental British Values) are embedded into the curriculum and delivered through all subjects.
  • PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) provision is through our ‘RICH’ curriculum which is delivered in Family Time as well as being embedded in subjects across the curriculum.


​Periods Per Week – Year 7

​​Periods Per Week – Year 8


 Key Stage Four

Options are structured in such a way to allow pupils up to two free choices.  This ensures equity of delivery, with all pupils having equal access to subjects. The options are designed to stretch and challenge pupils and to meet the demands of the local labour market. The curriculum model allows students to choose subjects in addition to the core Religious Education, Mathematics, English, Science, Physical Education (non-examined) lessons.  Pupils are offered a mixture of practical and academic subjects from all areas of the curriculum.  Within the option subjects, the school offers a range of different accreditation routes including academic and vocational options.  This gives every pupil a broad and balanced curriculum, but still offers a flexibility to maximise the outcomes achieved by each individual.  This model also maintains the widest possible choice for progression routes Post-16 as every pupil will have a greater range of subjects on which to choose future opportunities for education and training. ​

Curriculum Hours

  • At KS4 core subjects are set by ability across two equal half-year bands.
  • Option groups are largely mixed ability with some setting if there is more than one group in an option block.
  • Average core group size is 19 pupils, whilst the average option group sizes is 18 pupils.
  • All lessons are 1 hour in length and there are 25 lessons per week.
  • SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural) and FBV (Fundamental British Values) are embedded into the curriculum and delivered through all subjects.
  • PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) provision is through RICH Family Time and embedded into the curriculum.
Subject​Periods Per Week – Year 9​Periods Per Week – Year 10​Periods Per Week – Year 11
Option X​3​3​3
Option Y​3​3​3
Option Z​2​3​2
PE (Core)​1​1​1

Curriculum Impact

​At The Barlow, our curriculum will:

  • help our pupils to enjoy learning.
  • ensure that the sequence of learning builds on previous knowledge whilst supporting future progression.
  • lead to qualifications that are of worth for employers and for entry to further and higher education.
  • enable all pupils to fulfil their potential.
  • meet the needs of pupils of all abilities at the school.
  • allow pupils to acquire an appreciation and respect for their own and other cultures.
  • prepare pupils to compete in the global economy.
  • prepare pupils to make informed choices at the end of KS3, KS4 and beyond.
  • help students develop lively, enquiring minds and the ability to question and argue rationally.
 Progress 8Attainment 8


  • All pupils will be set an aspirational, challenging target that we expect them to achieve based on their KS2 SATs.
  • The school has introduced an age and ability appropriate statement-based assessment system (learning journey) across all KS3 subjects.  The learning journeys are shared with parents and pupils.  As a result, pupils are engaged in their learning and know where they are working at and what they need to do to improve.
  • Regular, low stakes, testing ensure that pupils embed knowledge into their long-term memory.
  • Pupils are assessed by a combination of peer, self and teacher assessments.  Summative assessment will take place in line with the reporting cycle.
  • Following each assessment, incisive intervention to fill gaps in knowledge means that pupils make rapid progress.
  • Parents receive reports 3 times per year.  The reports will indicate the progress that pupils have made towards their target grade and an indication of their behaviour and attitude to learning. ​

Curriculum Review​

  • Curriculum implementation will be reviewed and quality assured through line management, senior leadership quality assurance and lesson observations.
  • The curriculum delivered in each subject will reviewed annually by Faculty Leaders to ensure the sequence of delivery allows pupils to build on their knowledge and that pupils are sufficiently stretched and challenged.
  • The curriculum hours and subjects offered will be analysed by the Senior Leadership Team and Governing Body on an annual basis.
  • Parents and pupils will have the opportunity to review the curriculum content and delivery through regular parent and pupil surveys.   ​

If parents/carers would like to find out more information about the curriculum at The Barlow RC High School, please contact Ms. Wallace, Deputy Headteacher.