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The Judd School Curriculum Rationale

Learn, Grow, Belong

Our school’s maxim – Learn, Grow, Belong – encapsulates what it means to be a member of our school community and is the foundation of everything we do. The description below includes both the essence of those elements of our achievements of which we are already proud, and the framework by which we seek to improve. With each element is a statement of our goals, a description of the school we are and that which we seek to develop further:

Learn - supporting students to develop into highly effective learners, rich with powerful knowledge:

  • provide a broad, balanced and inclusive curriculum that is ambitious for all pupils, is coherently planned and sequenced;
  • deliver a curriculum that prepares students for the 21st Century world;
  • ensure all students make outstanding progress from their starting points.

Grow - guiding students to mature into caring and responsible citizens in a fast-developing world:

  • develop students who believe in their ability to succeed, are ambitious for their futures and resilient to the challenges they face;
  • all leaders feel empowered to excel in their roles and take responsibility for the development of the teams they lead.
  • to maintain and raise standards through a process of targeted personal and professional development;

Belong - life at school engenders a true sense of community through shared interests, common goals and mutual respect:

  • a school culture founded on respect for one another, the school community beyond our gates and the environment;
  • a safe and inclusive school community where both students and staff can flourish;
  • a happy school, where positive attitudes and wellbeing allow all to achieve their best.

Our students experience our bespoke Learn, Grow, Belong curriculum as part of their regular timetabled lessons, which seeks to develop the characteristics described above. Topics also include wellbeing; spiritual, moral, cultural and social development; the promotion of British Values; equality, diversity and inclusion; learning mastery; and preparation for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.

Curriculum Intent

The core intent of our curriculum “to ensure all of our students become caring and responsible citizens who are highly effective learners rich with powerful knowledge” embodies the spirit of Learn, Grow, Belong.

Our aim to create highly effective learners is underpinned by our Student Vision and our Learning Mastery approach.

Student Vision

We support students to become self-regulating, independent learners who are prepared to be lifelong learners, in a rapidly changing world, by developing the following characteristics in students as part of all our planets curricular activities:

  • empathetic – respecting others’ point of view, interests and beliefs
  • inquisitive – being curious and creative; keen to challenge themselves, including using their imagination to stretch themselves as learners, beyond what comes easily
  • collaborative – learning in teams
  • courageous – taking risks and learning from their mistakes or failure 
  • reflective – taking responsibility for their progress by planning, reviewing and improving their own learning 
  • reasoning – using logic and rationality to construct effective arguments, and identify flaws in others’ arguments 

Learning Mastery

Learning Mastery is an approach to studying that we have designed based on what we know from cognitive science about how memory works. The understand - condense - memorise - review methodology supports students to study effectively, by keeping in mind how the brain works.

Our aim to ensure all our students become caring and responsible citizens is not only supported by our bespoke Learn, Grow, Belong curriculum, but also by our cross-curricular themes approach and the RESPECT ethos that drives our behaviour expectations.

Cross-Curricular Themes Approach

To achieve the aims of our curriculum intent, students must make connections across and between curriculum areas. We seek to equip students with the knowledge, skills and experience to lead rich and fulfilling lives, understanding their place and potential in the wider world and making a positive contribution to local and global communities. This is achieved through six cross-curricular themes:

  • Digital Literacy
  • Equality and Diversity
  • Careers and Financial Education
  • Government and Law
  • Personal Growth and Participation
  • Environmental Awareness

Along with our Learn, Grow, Belong curriculum, cross-curricular themes incorporate the statutory requirements of schools to provide Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural education and British Values, and contribute towards our provision for the Digital Skills Framework, National Curriculum for Computing, the National Curriculum for Citizenship and Careers Education, in line with the Gatsby Benchmarks (aspects of these are also delivered explicitly in relevant curriculum areas).  


We believe that excellent behaviour is more than just the product of a system of principles, rewards and sanctions. It is the outcome of an active strategy to develop student self-discipline and self-awareness through pastoral support. The development and day-to-day application of relevant attributes means that students are able to develop the attitudes, values and skills that enable them to resolve conflicts appropriately and be mindful of the needs of others. 

Respect underpins the behaviour attributes we seek to foster in our students and that we trust they will carry into later life:

  • Responsible - taking ownership of your words and actions, and reflect on their impact on others;
  • Engaged - making the most of every opportunity the school offers both inside and outside the classroom, and be part of the community;
  • Safe - ensuring that decisions you make do not endanger yourself or others;
  • Polite - being courteous and well mannered in all our interactions;
  • Embracing - recognising that we are a community made up of individuals from differing backgrounds and beliefs, and welcome the opportunity to learn from each other;
  • Caring looking for opportunities to contribute positively to the lives of others within our community; and
  • Truthful - acting with integrity and admitting when you have made a mistake.

Academic Subjects

Key Stage 3 (Year 7 & 8)

Over the course of our 2-year programme students study a broad, ambitious and rigorous curriculum that exceeds the requirements of the national curriculum. Students study 18 different subjects throughout years 7 & 8 following a regular fortnightly timetable consisting of discrete lessons in;  English, Mathematics, three separate sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Physics), 3 Languages (French, German and Latin), History, Geography, Religious Education, Computer Science, Art, Drama, Music, Design and Technology, PE and Games, and our bespoke Learn, Grow, Belong curriculum.

Our Three-year Key Stage 4: Full and Focused Curricula

In deciding to allow students a choice of what they will study for GCSE in Year 9, we understand that this narrows their range of subjects a year earlier than in some other schools. We are able to bring forward this decision because students have studied almost all the full entitlement of the National Curriculum in Years 7 and 8, with remaining aspects covered through our ‘Learn, Grow, Belong’ curriculum. By requiring students to retain a broad curriculum right through to GCSE, not just to the end of Key Stage 3, we believe this creates the best possible opportunity for students to become accomplished learners with a greater range of knowledge and skills.

To achieve this ambition, our curriculum consists of a mix of core and options subjects. The core curriculum – English, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, ‘Learn, Grow, Belong’, Core PE and Games – is studied by all students. Options subjects are determined by the choice of our GCSE pathways, the Full and Focused curricula.

Full Curriculum - in addition to the core subjects, all students on our Full Curriculum study full course RS GCSE and four further subjects (11 in total, plus an additional Maths qualification for some),  which must be broad in selection, including at least one language, humanity and creative subject.

Our curriculum facilitates the government expectations around the English Baccalaureate, or EBacc. The DfE describes the EBacc as “a set of subjects at GCSE that keeps young people’s options open for further study and future careers”. We support the government’s ambition for students to have access to an academic curriculum that opens doors to the best universities and other routes through life.

However, we also feel that the EBacc has had two, perhaps unintended, consequences; namely the marginalisation of the creative arts and the failure to recognise Religious Studies as a Humanity and as an important aspect of students’ education as they develop an empathetic understanding of the world around us. Consequently, we have structured our offer to ensure that both RS and a range of creative subjects are at the heart of our curriculum.

We define our ‘creative subjects’ quite broadly. The pool includes Art and Design, Computer Science, Design and Technology, Music, Physical Education and Drama. We believe these subjects do fit together well; as a set they develop students’ ability to think and act creatively, solve problems, organise themselves, communicate and use their imagination or original ideas to create, assess and evaluate. With the exception of Computer Science (though not by design) these subjects also develop students’ commitment throughout the course, in their NEA.

We strongly believe that the ‘Full Curriculum’ is the right curriculum offer and its demands are within the capacity of the majority of our students. However, some students do benefit from studying a more bespoke curriculum; we call this alternative pathway the Focused Curriculum.

Focused Curriculum - we recognise that up to 15-20% of our students would benefit from studying fewer GCSEs, with support in the released time for the core subjects, support in learning mastery and time to focus on independent study. In our Focused Curriculum, students study 10 subjects (or in some cases fewer) with a reduced core and greater freedom of choice for their options subjects, in an effort to maximise their chances of success at GCSE and their route through to Sixth Form.

For students in our Focused Curriculum, Religious Studies moves from the core subjects to the options groups – in the Humanities block. Students, therefore, still make four choices, but are able to select subjects from at least two of the three groups – Humanities, Languages and Creative subjects – removing the requirement to study all three.

In the time this frees up, students will be in a small study group, typically around 10-15 students, where those 5 periods are staffed, on rotation, by either a Maths, English or Science teacher, or supervised by another colleague to support them with their study. The size of the study groups affords students more 1:1 staff attention and the opportunity to discuss topics less formally with their teachers and peers.

We have observed over recent years that some students who would benefit from this greater focus on fewer subjects realise too late and have not started on 10 subjects, often because it had originally restricted their choices. This is why we enable greater freedom, not less, in an effort to ensure students and parents make the right choice for them. We contact parents with our recommendation for the pathway most suitable for their child and we encourage parents to heed our advice and make choices as appropriate in the options process. The Focused Curriculum is not for students we believe can be successful on our Full Curriculum, in order to reduce workload or narrow choices; it is to enable all students to be successful in their KS4 years.

Key Stage 5 (Year 12 & 13)

In Year 12, almost all pupils study 4 subjects. Students are expected to continue with 4 subjects to A Level in Year 13, though some choose to focus on just 3. All students study Learn, Grow, Belong and a series of year group assemblies and visiting speakers, alongside the wide choice of subjects offered at A Level: English Literature, French, German, Classical Civilisation, Latin, Art, Computer Science, Design & Technology, Music, Physical Education, Geography, History, Religious Studies, Economics, Philosophy, Politics, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Most combinations of subjects can be accommodated. 

We also offer the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) which offers students an opportunity to deepen their understanding of a topic of interest by carrying out research or producing an artefact. The projects involve a significant amount of research and academic writing and a presentation to a non-specialist audience. The course includes training in these areas as well as individual supervision meetings to monitor and support the evolution of the project. The EPQ is a chance to demonstrate and develop the capacity for independent study – a quality much prized by universities.

Super Curricular Activity

In addition to the curriculum in lessons described above, there is a wealth of academic learning that occurs during lunchtimes and after school. Clubs and societies are run by teachers and students alike, on a wide range of topics and areas of interest. This culture of enthusiastic engagement in additional learning characterises our students, capitalises on the inspiration found in the classroom from our highly experienced and qualified teachers, and facilitates the exchange of ideas and understanding between students in different years.