Bedminster Down School

KS3 Curriculum

The KS3 offer

We believe that, in order to flourish, students need to have access to a broad range of subjects, right up until the end of KS3. This gives our students time to develop in all areas so that they are well prepared for completing the options process in Year 9. We therefore run a traditional three year KS3 model, with a two year KS4. Students continue to study all subjects across their first three years with us; the only exceptions to this are in Modern Foreign Languages and Design in Year 9.

Whilst we want every student to have access to all subjects in the curriculum we do not believe that everyone should be required to continue with MFL throughout KS3. Instead we offer approximately a quarter of the year group the chance to study additional English in Year 9. We believe this gives students a chance to improve their comprehension skills, which are so vital to their success in a range of subjects in KS4. No student is required to drop their Modern Foreign Language; we simply want to give a select few students and parents the opportunity to focus more on the core curriculum in order to give them the best chance of achieving the qualifications that they will need in order to be competitive in the workplace or in further education post 16.

In Design, the school operates a ‘two from five’ options model in Year 9. Students narrow their focus from the suite of five subjects they study in Years 7 and 8. By the start of Year 9 we believe that students are ready to narrow their focus in order to develop the skills that they need to thoroughly prepare for Key Stage 4 subjects in Design. We don’t prevent students from choosing new Design options in Key Stage 4, but we do advise that they continue with one of the two subjects they have chosen to specialise in during Year 9.

As well as the importance of the curriculum in developing young people to pass their exams, we also see it is a vital means of giving students new and exciting experiences and opportunities to develop spiritual, moral, cultural and social values. We make sure that every student in KS3 has timetabled lessons in PSHE and Religious education in order to develop a sound understanding of fundamental British values. In Year 9 every student takes part in a two day residential trip to Dartmoor National Park called ‘Challenge 24’. Students camp in a new environment, cook their own food on a stove and push themselves physically.


Setting by Ability

All of the research we read says that setting based on ability in the first couple of years of Secondary school is damaging for the progress of the majority of students, in every subject. We therefore keep students in mixed ability groups in all subjects in both Year 7 and 8. We know that the jump from Primary to Secondary school can be big for a lot of students, and not setting by ability means that we can keep students in the same group for the majority of their subjects in Year 7. This makes sure that students get to know a group of people in their year exceptionally well and provides them a safe and comfortable environment during their first year with us.

In Year 9 we begin to group by ability more, with students placed into sets for their English, Maths, Science, MFL and Humanities lessons.

For the full list of subjects we teach in KS3, and the number of lessons we give to each one, please click here.