School Curriculum

The Holt School Curriculum

Curriculum statement of intent

We want to send our students into the world having self-confidence, knowing how to build and sustain strong relationships, having high aspirations and having achieved their very best.

While they are with us, we will encourage, equip and expect students to be kind, aim high, and work hard.

To meet this vision for the school, we offer a curriculum that is broad, balanced and rigorous. The curriculum covers a wide range of disciplines to enable our students to flourish academically. It supports students to become cultured citizens, prepared for responsible adulthood, taking with them the good character of stoicism, gratitude and humility that will impact positively on their own lives and those of others to make for a better world.

We aim to provide an ambitious curriculum that:

  • fulfils all National Curriculum requirements
  • uses a variety of learning and teaching strategies which develop independent learning
  • reflects the diversity of the school community, modern Britain, and the wider world
  • has an imaginative approach within a stimulating learning environment
  • is designed to meet the needs of each individual student
  • promotes cross-curricular skills and knowledge
  • includes opportunities for global learning
  • prepares students for their next steps in education, employment or training

The school operates a 50-period fortnight with 5 one-hour lessons per day, with an occasional period 6 for the 6th form.

1. Key Stage 3 – Years 7, 8 and 9

We have a traditional three-year Key Stage 3 because we believe this offers the breadth of knowledge and cultural understanding that students need to equip them with the building blocks to move on successfully to Key Stage 4.

a. Compulsory National Curriculum subjects






Modern foreign languages

Design and technology

Food preparation and nutrition

Art and design


Physical education



Philosophy of religion


b. Setting arrangements

Year 7: Students are taught in mixed ability groups except in mathematics where they are set by ability.

Year 8: In addition to maths, students are taught in ability groups in physical education, MFL and science.

Year 9: In addition to those mentioned for Year 8, English is also taught in ability groups.

c. Pathways

The Learning Link provides a tailored pathway to ensure that all our students can flourish. Our “Inspire Challenge Achieve” (ICA) Pathway is successfully designed and developed for students in Years 7, 8 and 9 who need additional support to access some of the curriculum in the mainstream environment. It has the aim of improving their literacy and closing the attainment gap between them and their peers. Students work as a small set with one specialist teacher leading their studies in English and the humanities subjects.

Other students needing help receive individual or small group support where possible.

ICA students are identified during transition to Year 7. This may include those who score 80 or below in the KS2 scaled scores where 100 is the floor standard for meeting expectations. Where these scores are unavailable, the school is able to carry out tests to help identify these students.

  1. Key Stage 4 – Years 10 and 11

GCSEs are designed to be taught over two years and this is reflected in our two-year Key Stage 4 curriculum.

Most students work towards national qualifications, usually GCSE subjects, but also Cambridge First qualifications.

a. Subjects

Students follow a core curriculum comprising

English (language and literature)


Science (triple or combined)

A modern foreign language

In addition, students study

Physical education, either full GCSE course, or Sports Leader course


Philosophy of religion (PoR)

All students begin PoR in Year 9 and have an early entry for either the full course GCSE or the short course GCSE in Year 10.

Students then choose 3 further option subjects.

b. Setting

Students in KS4 are set by ability in maths, science and English. There is setting in modern languages where the timetable allows.

c. Pathways

Students choose courses from one of five pathways 

  • GCSE EBacc pathway

Students select three subjects including history and/or geography from a wide range of options set out over three blocks and study a modern foreign language.

Whilst we strongly recommend most students follow the EBacc pathway, we recognise that for some students this is not the right choice and as such we do not direct this.

  • GCSE non-EBacc pathway

Students select three subjects from the option blocks which don’t include one of history or geography, but do study a modern foreign language 

  • A mixed GCSE/non-GCSE pathway

Students mix and match GCSE courses along with a choice of up to two vocational courses. These are offered in child development and health and social care. GCSEs could include history and/or geography in order to achieve the EBacc.

  • An Alternative Provision pathway (ICA)

This provides an opportunity for students to receive additional help and support instead of taking a GCSE in MFL and/or up to two GCSE subjects

The Learning Link extends its ICA curriculum to students in Key Stage 4, who require extra help. Students may be offered a health and social care level 1 course and/or an ASDAN COPE award (Certificate of Personal Effectiveness) as an alternative to up to two GCSE options. This qualification comprises work experience and work readiness units through a continually assessed ASDAN log. In addition, students do not study a modern foreign language but instead work with Learning Link on their core subjects.

  1. Key Stage 5 – Years 12 and 13

Students can choose from a range of A level subjects.

In addition, the KS5 Team lead a seminar programme with one lesson every two weeks for each of Year 12 and Year 13. The programme includes education on study skills, post 18 options, personal finance, driving and relationships.

4. More able students

Students who are identified as more able are provided with the opportunities for high level performance through a variety of extension and enrichment activities, which challenge and stretch them to achieve their very best. These occur within the curriculum as well as extra-curricular activities. The More Able Co-ordinator leads staff in ensuring the identification and appropriate support for individual students, with a whole-school focus on providing experiences that enhance and extend learning for all students.

Child Development
Design & Technology
Food & Nutrition
Health & Social Care