Skip to content ↓

Teaching & Learning


The aims of our curriculum

Every student has the right to a curriculum that suits their needs, challenges their individual abilities, gives them every opportunity to experience success and prepares them for work and life outside of school.

We aim

 to develop a curriculum which:

  • creates an aspirational high achievement culture
  • takes into account individual needs allows everyone to experience success
  • raises standards of attainment
  • At Cottingham High School, we aim to provide a broad and balanced curriculum that enables all young people to become:
  • successful learners who enjoy learning, make progress and achieve
  • confident individuals who are able to live safe, healthy and fulfilling lives
  • responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to society.

We are a true comprehensive with an eclectic mix of learners. All students at Cottingham High School are entitled to an engaging, broad, balanced, rich, appropriately challenging and ambitious curriculum, with a strong academic core, delivered by specialists who are passionate about their subject. This will include classroom-based learning, independent learning outside the classroom and an exciting and inclusive range of extra-curricular enhancement and enrichment opportunities designed to ignite and inspire our students. 

Our curriculum clearly sets out the knowledge and skills that pupils will gain at each key stage, how this knowledge and these skills will be taught and assessed and how effectively pupils apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired. Our aims are to provide an effective and enjoyable education where pupils achieve highly and are equipped with the knowledge and cultural capital they need to be confident and succeed in life. Our curriculum is designed sequentially so that new knowledge and skills build on what has been taught before through a mastery approach. It builds towards clearly defined end points. We have designed our curriculum to reflect our context and to combat social disadvantage by addressing gaps in pupils’ knowledge and skills. This includes an emphasis on reading and vocabulary-rich programmes of study and a focus on careers education in each curriculum area, which will raise aspirations.

Above all, we want all our students to be enthusiastic about their studies and to instil in them a self-belief and an appetite for life-long learning.

Curriculum Intent

A GCSE-ready English student will be able to communicate their ideas to others fluently, confidently and accurately.  Literature plays a powerful role in developing this essential skill as reading enables students to acquire and build on their knowledge. The ‘mastery’ curriculum provided promotes an appreciation and love of reading throughout KS3. Students engage with a variety of texts from Shakespeare to non-fiction, increasing in complexity to encourage them to develop into independent readers who choose reading material for challenge, interest and enjoyment. The demanding nature of the texts helps to promote academic excellence and rigor as they build resilience, and develop their literacy skills and ability to deconstruct language. They will have tackled both pre-1914 and contemporary literature, including prose, poetry and drama. This ambitious, rich and wide range of literature helps them to acquire an extensive vocabulary which will enable them to become eloquent and successful communicators beyond the classroom. They will understand the exciting contexts that have shaped some of the world’s most influential texts, enabling them to have an appreciation for the importance of our literary heritage.

We provide the opportunity for every student to watch live performances, allowing them to experience texts brought to life. This helps to enrich their understanding of drama and develop their curiosity. The coherently planned curriculum makes certain that students practise writing in a range of contexts, purposes and audiences to ensure that students develop their ability to become competent and accurate writers who write with purpose and creativity, paying attention to accurate grammar, punctuation and spelling.

A GCSE-ready mathematician possesses the necessary toolbox of skills to facilitate success; they understand what this looks like and they push to achieve. They will be confident in the area of number and eager to apply these skills across topics; having also explored algebra, shape, data and ratio and proportion. They have an ability and desire to communicate their mathematical thinking, both written and verbally; nurtured during class, small group, paired and student/teacher discussions. Having grappled with a wide variety of mathematical concepts and scenarios within lessons they have developed resilience when faced with challenging problems. Whether inside or outside of the classroom our maths curriculum allows them to develop their love of maths through passionate delivery and the modelling of mathematical thought processes; they are encouraged to extend their maths interest beyond lesson time. Understanding the importance of maths to themselves and those around them they are inquisitive, looking for and recognising the maths in the world around them and linking their learning to other subjects and to life after Cottingham High School.'

Who will save the planet and escort mankind away from the precipice of extinction?

Who will solve the world energy crisis and climate change?

No-one – unless, we equip our young scientists with the analytical and practical based skills that they will need to depend upon to, not only, face these challenges with relish and determination but moreover a deep-rooted satisfaction when they succeed.

Through our differentiated routed tasks and targeted questioning from subject specialist teachers we will provide challenge for all and enable them to foster the resilience and imagination they will need to, not only solve, but to preempt and embrace the dangers and problems that we have not even considered because they might not even currently exist.

It is only from analysing the mistakes of the past by reviewing and debating case studies of Semmelweiss, Jenner, Nobel that we can help develop the ethical & moral purpose of our young people for when they are making the discoveries of tomorrow.

Our practical investigations delve into all aspects of chemistry, biology and physics, be it to determine the calorific value of a crisp verses a biscuit, analysing an aliquot of an unknown solution, or how chromatography can differentiate between a real M&M from a fake or a horse burger from a beef burger to designing crumple zones to protect a fast-moving egg and making the perfect cup of tea. Throw the custard powder flamethrower and screaming jelly baby into the lesson and you have a recipe guaranteed to enthrall and impel a scientific thirst for knowledge and a hunger for success in and beyond the classroom.

None of these skills equate to anything without a love of science.

This can only be diffused and distilled into our students by the infectious passion of our classroom teachers, most of whom have been part of the CHS community for a minimum of 5 years. Their wealth of knowledge guarantee that throughout our enquiry and analytically based curriculum, we build bridges across real world contexts, and highlight career paths that are rooted within the science industry to ensure our students have the prerequisite skills and attitude for a successful future.

We need to plant the seeds of enquiry today that will allow our young people to grow independently and tall so that they may reap the harvest of success no matter their socio-economic background.

A GCSE ready Art and Design student will be experienced and confident in the formal elements and will be able to demonstrate a mastery of using line, tone, colour, form, texture and pattern in their work. Through the varied curriculum pupils will be stretched and challenged appropriately, building a strong portfolio of subject specific practical skills including 3D model making and digital art techniques, in addition to the traditional processes of drawing and painting. We provide opportunities that are enjoyable but also provoke interest and curiosity, considering a range of Art movements and genres from different contexts, historical timeframes and cultures, broadening their cultural capital. They will have an appreciation of aesthetic and cultural values and how art can contribute to their own wellbeing.

They will have creative confidence, having acquired the necessary skills to design and develop a range of personal ideas and outcomes. An ability to critically analyse and evaluate their own work and that of others, identifying key features and drawing comparisons will be established, informing their actions and improving outcomes. They will have resilience and independence inside and outside of the classroom, with a desire to take creative risks and seek to embrace opportunities to access the work of practitioners in the wider community. Through these opportunities, pupils will have an awareness and appreciation of art and design and its role in creative and cultural industries that enrich their lives.  Above all our students will be passionate about Art and Design and the plethora of possible opportunities that await them in their further studies and broader creative industries.

A GCSE ready Drama student can work collaboratively with others, be creatively adaptive in skill delivery for the varying demands of Drama tasks, group dynamics and skillsets.  Students are encouraged to think analytically, evaluate effectively and responsively reflect. They have confidence in their own ideas, reflect and refine work without acceptance of a final outcome.  A GCSE ready Drama student can establish and manage a growth toolkit of transferable drama skills, applicable both in studies and in the professional workplace. 

The skills, knowledge and understanding of a GCSE ready Drama student are developed from a comprehensive Drama curriculum studied at KS3 and enjoyed to ensure mastery, tailored to and beyond GCSE exam board assessment criteria.  It is one which delivers comprehensive social, cultural, moral and historical content, explored to ensure rich understanding to text-based work and give a valid foundation and core balance to devising pieces from wide ranging stimuli.  All this is supported and contextualised by regular live theatre experiences and visits, professional theatre practitioner workshops and student participation and performance in school-based musicals and theatre performances.       

A GCSE-ready Music student will have skills to listen to, compose and perform music in a range of styles; to identify, evaluate and be responsive to western art music, and popular and traditional music from around the world. Students will develop confidence in performing techniques, listening skills and compositional knowledge while working cooperatively and reciprocally with others.

Skills, knowledge and understanding are built over three years at KS3.  The students work to a focussed mastery curriculum, structured and differentiated to meet the needs of wide-ranging student experience and musical skill.  Learners experience challenge, make progress and enjoy their lessons working through curriculum content on topics exploring a wide range of musical genres. It bridges learning gaps and differentiates to ensure all can access a GCSE curriculum at KS4.  The taught curriculum is enriched and enhanced further with opportunities and music provision in the form of music concerts, musical productions and musical theatre orchestras both in school and the wider community.  Music students can meet the challenge of music performance opportunities through daily rehearsal and extra-curricular classes including choirs, swing band, concert band, soul band, brass group, percussion ensemble and woodwind group. In addition to this, students can also build further performance skills by taking peripatetic music lessons. 

 A GCSE ready Design and Technology student will be able to use creativity and imagination to design and make products which have a real-life application with a consideration of environmental impact, understanding and appreciating the relevance of green manufacturing. Having the ability to select the appropriate specialist tools, processes and complex materials they will be able to independently realise their intentions and the technical and practical expertise to complete tasks confidently, creating high-quality products for a range of users, prompting them to consider how they will be responsible citizens. The KS3 curriculum offers opportunities to engage with past and present design and technology practice and they will have an awareness and understanding of how to draw on a range of disciplines such as Maths and Science in the subject.

More specifically a GCSE ready Engineering student will have the ability to be patient, precise and accurate and have knowledge about appropriate tools and equipment with an ability to manage themselves safely in a workshop environment. The curriculum aims to promote a curiosity and interest in the current and possible future developments in the engineering industry and the impact these have on the wider world. They will have a desire to share and articulate their ideas in a range of ways including mathematical modelling, digital presentations and computer-based tools. 

A GCSE ready Food and Nutrition student will have a clear knowledge of the principles of healthy eating and nutrition, including an awareness of the Eat Well Guide, food hygiene and how to manage themselves in a practical environment. They will be able to work independently when cooking and work safely. A keenness to investigate the chemical and scientific properties of food will compliment an enjoyment and love of cooking and the ability to use this to express themselves creatively. They will have a wide repertoire of dishes and understand the characteristics of a broad range of ingredients. Pupils will be able to recognise this as a skill for life, having the ability to feed themselves in a healthy and varied way beyond the classroom.

A GCSE ready PE student will be independent in order to manage their own workload and manage their own time effectively. They would have a curiosity that goes beyond the classroom in their desire to develop their understanding of the subject, including taking part in sport outside of school for teams. Perseverance will be a key quality so that they are able to understand that there will be barriers in their way and with hard work they can overcome them. A GCSE ready PE student will show resilience and understand that failure is an integral part of learning and that they learn from their mistakes. This will be notable in their practical performances to ensure that they improve week upon week and lesson upon lesson. Strength in their communication skills is also essential so that they are able to work with others, interact with others and share ideas with others both verbally and non-verbally. Equally being receptive, being able to listen to the advice of their teachers and other experts and put the advice into practice is also a key quality. A confidence in their own ability, both in the classroom and in a practical capacity, is something we would expect to see in any of our examination PE students.

Being organised and able to organise themselves and their equipment so they have kit for the correct lessons, books for the right lessons and attending any additional time such as training times or matches on time is essential, as is a strong desire to maintain a healthy lifestyle by considering diet and exercise programmes. They will be aware of the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle and the consequences of leading a more sedentary based one.

Finally, being talented (practically) is a fundamental quality we would expect to see in a GCSE ready PE student due to the practical element of the course. They will have experience in playing sport and play to a good level, as it is impossible to achieve top grades at GCSE level in PE now without this.

A GCSE-ready IT/Computing student will have a solid grounding of knowledge, skills and understanding in a wide range of IT and computing capabilities including digital literacy. Throughout KS3, students will explore the world of technology and which will ignite their interest in the digital world so that they have a deep understanding of all of the technology that surrounds them. The aim is for them to not only know how to use technology effectively, safely and responsibly but also how technology is developed and constantly redeveloped into new and exciting tools.  Students will work towards becoming confident and robust problem solvers and will develop their resilience when faced with challenging programming tasks. They will recognise how to better use computers as a tool, a tool that can be configured and reconfigured to solve any number of problems that face us now and that will face us further into the future. They will have experience of working on projects covering the origins of computer science, problem solving, binary and programming using graphical and text-based languages as well as being confident users of a range of software packages that are invaluable in their future studies across a range of subjects and in the world of work.

A GCSE ready student in MFL will be independent and curious and able to manage their own and time effectively, going beyond the classroom in their desire to develop their knowledge of the subject by watching movies, listening to foreign radio, reading in the target language or researching grammar. They will match the passion of their teachers for the subject and understand that MFL is not just a classroom subject but also a skill that will stay with them the rest of their lives. As such, a GCSE ready student will be aware of the outside world and the possibilities that exist through studying a language, whether that is in the world of work or in the world of tourism. A good linguist will realise that we must break down barriers through communication in the world rather than build them. They will be perseverant, resilient, reflective and metacognitive in their learning, developing skills that allow them to be successful both inside and outside of school, now and in the future.

A GCSE ready Geographer will be able to develop a sense of place and interpret their surroundings in order to gain a better appreciation and passion for understanding the variety of physical and human conditions on the Earth’s surface. Their love of Geography will breed confidence in developing major skill areas such as Map and fieldwork skills; cross-curricular skills such as ICT, Literacy and Numeracy; as well as an increasing awareness of the world around them and the idea of sustainability. Our Geographers will become global citizens and show a keen awareness of the geography around them and empathy for their fellow humans regardless of background or geographic location.

Our Geographers are curious and want to develop a wide interest and knowledge beyond their immediate experiences. They confidently use images and information to help them gain an understanding of people and concepts that they acquire from various media. We provide our Geographers with a wide variety of fieldwork opportunities at a range of scales, from examining local habitats to exciting international destinations.  The dynamic nature of Geography provides us with opportunities to stretch and challenge all our pupils with up to the minute learning. Our Geographers are exposed to a plethora of desirable and transferrable skills, which will open up employment opportunities for them in the future.

A GCSE ready History student will be semi-independent and engaged learners with a passion for not only History, but also the world around them. We aim to develop an understanding of key historical events that have shaped the modern world; including a grasp of circumstances that can lead to intolerance and cruelty, but also the lighter and inspiring side of humanity. The purpose of studying in History is to make students engage with how their immediate and broader environment functions and how different groups within it relate to each other. With this is mind, History at KS3 begins the transition to a future of insight and provides opportunities to enrich their experience through educational visits, something which we hope will inspire students to choose the subject at KS4. However, paramount to the success of all students is engagement, enjoyment and, above all, positive relationships.

Technically, students will be able to harness and utilise a range of historical skills that will help them progress through KS4 and beyond. Amongst the broad range of skills and critical thinking History equips students with are; interpreting source and evidence-based materials and being able to shape them around an enquiry, questioning the utility of different evidence and being able to articulate their ideas, producing semi-independently structured work and applying a range of contextual knowledge to demonstrate understanding and enhance arguments, amongst others. This will be supported with a range of language and terminology which is specific to the topics they study and learners will be confident in deploying this language effectively. KS3 History at Cottingham High aims to produce technically minded, inquisitive and motivated learners with global awareness of the past and some understanding of the present.

A GCSE ready RE student will be able to communicate their ideas, beliefs and opinions confidently and coherently. The study of world religion throughout KS3 provides students with opportunities to develop an understanding of what it means to be committed to a religious tradition and have respect for other peoples’ views. It also allows students to celebrate the diversity in British society and be able to reflect on their own experiences as well as to develop personal responses to the fundamental questions of life.

Students will practice investigative and research skills that enable them to make reasoned judgements about religious and moral issues. They will focus on Philosophical, Ethical, Religious and Humanist approaches to a range of experiences in life; provoking curiosity and broadening their cultural capital. Students will be provided with the essential skills to examine, critically analyse and evaluate perspectives and belief systems that shape the world in which we live. The nature of this subject and all that it encompasses is to prepare students for the future and encourage tolerant, responsible citizens. They will also engage with a variety of texts and arguments presented by Theologians, Philosophers and Ethicists which will help to extend their vocabulary as well as providing challenge to students, thus promoting academic progression. 

The KS3 PSHCEE curriculum, which includes timetabled lessons, tutor activities, the assembly programme and Alternative Curriculum Days, aims to prepare students for life in modern Britain effectively, developing their understanding of the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, tolerance and respect. It promotes equality of opportunity and diversity effectively so that students learn to engage with views, beliefs and opinions that are different from their own in considered ways. It provides students with meaningful opportunities to understand how to be responsible, respectful, active citizens who contribute positively to society. It teaches them about healthy relationships and healthy lifestyle choices. It prepares them for future success in education, employment or training. The Gatsby Benchmarks are used to develop and improve the school’s careers provision and enable a range of education and training providers to speak to students in all years. It ensures that they receive unbiased information about potential next steps, high-quality careers guidance and good-quality, meaningful opportunities to encounter the world of work.