Curriculum at Cheney

The curriculum at Cheney School: thoughtful, relevant and rich

Intent: content and structure

Design and structure

Our curriculum has been carefully designed to reflect our school motto: ‘Think for yourself; act for others’ and to ensure that students benefit from a breadth of study from Years 7 to 13. It is thoughtful, relevant and rich and is frequently reviewed to ensure it stays that way. The curriculum captures our proudly comprehensive nature and reflects our students’ own experiences and interests while remaining traditional enough to ensure that students can access a wide range of post-16 and -18 options.

Our teaching staff are subject specialists who are ambitious for our students and who enjoy refining our curriculum during and after teaching, continually looking to improve the content and structure to best suit the needs and interests of our students.

Our school follows a three year Key Stage Three curriculum, a two year Key Stage Four curriculum and a two year Key Stage Five curriculum. We also have a small amount of internal Alternative Provision.

Cheney School follows a two-week timetable, with 5 hours of lessons and 30 minutes of tutor time each day. School starts at 8.30 and ends at 3.00 although some students may have ‘twilight’ lessons, clubs or revision sessions after 3.00pm.

Our Key Stage Three curriculum meets, and in some places, exceeds the National Curriculum. Students study from a range of eighteen subjects, including four Modern Foreign Languages and Latin, four Design Technology subjects and three Humanities subjects. Students in Year 9 also enjoy discrete Enrichment lessons which support our Personal Development curriculum. We have also made sensible adjustments to our curriculum to respond to the impact of the pandemic.

At Key Stage Four, students choose from seventeen options subjects in addition to English, Maths, Science, PE and PSHE. Fourteen of these courses are full GCSEs and there are also two BTECs and a Level 2 Technical award. The languages offer spans three modern languages and Latin; Design Technology includes three subjects and Humanities offers four. Most students gain 9 or 10 GCSEs.

Some students will be offered a different suite of qualifications, usually alongside GCSE. This ensures that students will get appropriate qualifications to move on to College, even if they do not get grade 4 or above at GCSE. We also offer some non-examined vocational courses (such as painting and decorating) which will lead on to apprenticeships and College courses, but don’t currently offer a formal qualification.

In the Sixth Form, students choose from twenty six A-level courses and six BTECs. Most students study three subjects, although some take four, and many also take on the EPQ and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

Ambitious curriculum highlights include:
English: the Year 8 “Language of argument and discourse” unit
Maths: entering the Junior, Intermediate and Senior Maths Challenges as well as participating in the local ‘Maths Feast’
Humanities: a range of Key Stage Three research projects, including studying Revolutions and our House Patrons
Science: the Year 8 Science Fair in the summer term, with students creating and carrying out their own scientific investigations, presenting them to peer
Creative Arts: the Year 7 pop-up Art exhibition
PE: a Key Stage Two Sports Day under Year 10 leadership
MFL: the Yr 11 Social and Global Issues in Languages around the world (Environment, Poverty and Charity topics) unit
DT: the Year 10 Food Technology ‘chicken project’

Alternative Provision

A small number of students follow a full or partial Alternative Provision curriculum, receiving nurturing support to keep them in worthwhile education. Internally, we offer the following tailored provision:
Cheney Plus: a long term provision akin to the resource bases in other schools, although not Local Authority funded. This is for students who often have EHCPs, diagnoses of autistic spectrum disorder, or significant trauma in their background. The unit oftens a nurturing environment, which provides them with a full suite of qualifications, including GCSE and ASDAN, to allow progression to post -16 courses.
School WIthin a School: this is a short term provision (generally one or two short terms) aimed at reducing exclusion and allowing successful reintegration into mainstream lessons. There is a lot of individual support, centred on self-regulation, positive relationships and self-worth, in addition to an academic curriculum delivered by subject specialists.
External alternative provision: in some cases, students are best served by following courses at other providers. This is done in the best interests of the child, on a case by case basis, with oversight from a consistent, named member of staff in school. There are established relationships with a number of providers, which have been quality assured both by school and by the trust.

Cultural capital

We build our students’ cultural capital by running engaging trips and visits, running competitions, hosting visiting speakers and events and supporting a strong reading culture across the school. The House system encourages broad and enthusiastic engagement with the rich opportunities on offer as it rewards and recognises participation. Our taught curriculum contains global, national and local references and we value the work of our Diversity and Environment teacher working parties which support Faculties to deliver a culturally rich curriculum.

Personal development and Citizenship

Students receive comprehensive personal development and Citizenship education through discrete lessons in Years 9 to 11, tutor time in Years 7 to 13 and through some Science and RE lessons. Our provision is carefully mapped to ensure we meet all statutory requirements and we are committed to meeting the Gatsby Benchmarks for Careers provision.

Wider and extra-curricular

All students are encouraged to take part in a wide range of extra-curricular activities and opportunities and we are ambitious for all students to do so. Our offer spans sports, creative arts, languages, creative writing and film, with clubs often set up in direct response to student and staff interest. More formalised are our extra-curricular Classics, debating, Duke of Edinburgh and Cadets activities. We are also very fortunate to house the UK’s first certified museum in a school, the Rumble Museum, which puts on breakfast talks and all-day themed events throughout the year, as well as enabling students and staff to benefit from artefact-based teaching and learning.


Homework is part of our curriculum and is used for extending students’ knowledge, completing work begun in subject lessons during the school day, preparing for future lessons and supporting exam preparation and coursework. Homework is always set on Googleclassroom and can take a variety of forms including: reading; research; revising; learning vocabulary and spelling; completing or continuing coursework; completing corrections following feedback from the teacher; written work; or an extended piece of work to be completed over several weeks. We aim to only set meaningful and useful homework. Not all homework is written work and our Homework Policy provides more detail about our shared approach.

Implementation: the quality of teaching and learning

Classroom practice

High quality teaching and learning is at the heart of the implementation of our curriculum. Our teachers work with our Teaching and Learning Handbook which outlines our shared approach to classroom practice:

Strand 1: Information and knowledge - our teachers are subject experts who use clear instructions and stimulating resources
Strand 2: Support and access - our teachers understand and overcome students’ barriers to learning
Strand 3: Success and achievement - our teachers support students’ achievement by modelling, effective task setting and recognising success
Strand 4: Assessment and adjustment - our teachers know how to assess students’ progress and how to adjust their teaching accordingly
Strand 5: Feedback and progress - our teachers provide feedback which has an impact on students’ progress

The quality of our practice is strengthened by a carefully delivered programme of professional development, including internal coaching, a detailed process for Early Careers Teachers and enthusiastic engagement with local subject and Trust networks and exam board training. All teachers focus on professional development as part of their appraisal process.

We are also committed to assuring that our classroom practice is consistently strong and we take care to conduct regular learning walks and work scrutinies and to provide feedback and challenge when necessary.

SEND and Intervention

Students with SEND are further supported by a range of in-class strategies and adjustments to ensure they are able to access the curriculum and some may also work with Teaching Assistants and receive additional small group provision. Targeted interventions, including literacy and EAL support, are also provided for students who are most in need. In addition, we offer ‘Star’ and ‘Up’ classes at Key Stage Three which support some students with their literacy, numeracy and SEMH needs.


Assessment at Cheney School is formative and summative and is thoughtfully planned into the curriculum at all Key Stages to ensure that teachers understand the progress students are making and students receive regular, useful feedback about how to improve. Regular assessment also enables teachers to review the effectiveness of the curriculum and to make adjustments when necessary. There are 3 Assessment Points in each school year where progress data is collected and analysed and reports sent home to parents.

Library and reading

Our popular library supports the implementation of our curriculum: it is well-stocked and well-used and provides a wide range of books and online resources which reflect the topics taught in class. The library also supports the school’s strong reading culture, further enhancing our students’ ability to access the curriculum.

Impact: the success of the curriculum and student outcomes and destinations


The success of our curriculum can be seen in the outcomes for our students which are strong at GCSE, BTEC and A-level. At the end of Year 11, the significant majority of students remain in education, many in our Sixth Form. At the end of Year 13 our destinations data is equally strong, reflecting many students who achieve places at Oxbridge and Russell Group universities and on competitive courses such as Medicine and Law.

Quality assurance

The impact of the curriculum can also be seen through our internal and external quality assurance processes. We engage with regular self-review, with reviews through our Trust partner schools and with frequent Governors’ visits, all of which recognise the strength of our curriculum and high levels of student engagement and enjoyment. We analyse internal and external performance data, and benefit from intra-Trust moderation. Heads of Faculty and subject leaders take part in structured professional discussions which review the success of the curriculum, agree adjustments and monitor impact.

Student engagement

Levels of student engagement are indicative of the success of our curriculum. Internal monitoring and external reviews note that behaviour is calm and attentive in lessons and relationships between staff and students are warm and respectful. Students take part in lessons and in extra curricular activities with enthusiasm and enjoyment.

To find out more about our curriculum, please contact Deputy Head, Louise Marsh 

Please click here for a list of courses studied in Years 10 and 11.

For our BTEC Policies, see our Policies page.