The Marlborough CofE School
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Curriculum Vision

The curriculum at The Marlborough School is deliberately designed to support our vision statement, in that “we are a learning community that is committed to excellence in all we do.

We believe in the enrichment of the whole person and that every individual has the right to the best possible education. We are ambitious, rigorous, uncompromising and academically outstanding, and make sure our young people are nurtured, cherished and cared for.”

As part of this ‘commitment to excellence’, we aim to deliver a curriculum that has one of our school’s core values at its heart: ambition.  This ambition is for all pupils to be stimulated, challenged and supported to achieve success whatever their background or individual context.  We see our ambitious and rigorous curriculum as an entitlement for all pupils, aiming to remove the impact of social disadvantage and ensure that every child, including those with SEND, thrives and flourishes at our school. Pupils receive thorough and wide-ranging careers education and go on to access a wide range of future destinations. 

We have planned our curriculum to: 

  • Be rich in carefully specified knowledge;

  • Be the result of expert sequencing;

  • Be supported by expert resourcing;

  • Be rich in carefully specified academic language and key vocabulary;

  • Include carefully selected texts, where appropriate, to encourage disciplinary literacy;

  • Include the expert use of assessment and feedback;

  • Be efficient and manageable for teachers. 

Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. Reading is a daily part of each student’s experience at our school: as a means to better understand our subjects, and as a part of our school’s cultural identity. We recognise the benefits, in terms of empathy and life chances, that reading brings for all members of our community. Whether this is enjoying a diverse range of books as part of our Tutor Guided Reading Programme, or as a key part of a lesson where core vocabulary is explicitly taught and practised. 

Across the school, our curriculum is broad, balanced and carefully sequenced.  We build on pupils’ prior knowledge and the statutory curriculum at KS2, and ensure we cover, and often go beyond, the specifications of the secondary national curriculum. We seek to allow pupils the opportunities to make connections between topics in each subject by carefully paying attention to where we teach and re-visit content over time. We plan for these schema-building connections, where pupils will ‘bump into’ and deepen their understanding of core concepts, both within each subject and between subjects, acquiring, over time, a deep body of knowledge. We structure our curriculum in a way that allows our pupils to go on the journey from ‘novice’ to ‘expert’. Understanding that knowledge is generative (sticky) means that our teachers and leaders are clear how they are delivering knowledge in a sequence that allows pupils to connect new learning to previous learning. 

Our use of assessment is clearly mapped to our curricula so that we can work responsively with our pupils to help them secure the key knowledge and skills in each subject into their long-term memory.

Curriculum Structure

At Marlborough, in Key Stage 3, we teach a fortnightly time-table of 5 one-hour lessons per day, that equates to 50 periods per fortnightly cycle.

We teach a broad, balanced and varied curriculum at KS3, which lasts until the final short term (Term 6) in Year 9. This means that all pupils have the opportunity to study the full range of subjects for almost three years, but have an additional 6 to 7 weeks of their GCSE courses during the final weeks of the summer term.

We provide a full range of subjects at Key Stage 3. This is characterised by:

  • Core subjects of English, Maths and Science: all subjects have 6 allocated hours every year, whilst Maths has an additional hour allocated in KS3 to help deliver the ‘mastery’ curriculum;

  • Humanities subjects, History and Geography, are taught separately and given 3 p/p/f, reflecting their status as key EBacc subjects;

  • The vast majority of pupils all study two Modern Foreign Languages on entry to the school for the whole of Year 7 (French and German). A small number of pupils study one language in order to receive additional reading support (see below).  In Year 8, pupils will choose to continue with one language for the remainder of KS3;

  • A full range of creative and active subjects across all three years: Art, Drama, Music and PE (2 hours each in every year);

  • A broad range of Design and Technology subjects, taught by specialist teachers, including 3-D Graphics, Textiles, Food and Resistant Materials 3 p/p/f in Year 7, increasing to 4 p/p/f in Years 8 and 9;

  • ICT/Computing taught in Years 7, 8 and 9 for 1 p/p/f to prepare pupils for Computer Science GCSE;

  • Personal Development taught in discrete lessons for 1 p/p/f for the whole of KS3, delivered by a specialist team of trained staff;

  • An Electives programme that provides a rich and broad experience for all pupils, delivered in 4 p/p/f in Year 7 and 2 p/p/f in Years 8 and 9. 

A distinctive feature of our Key Stage 3 curriculum is that we have specifically and deliberately changed our English curriculum to explicitly teach reading. The aim of this reading strategy is to ensure that our full curriculum offer is accessible for all pupils, including those disadvantaged and those with SEND. Through the careful structuring of our time and the allocation of specialist teachers, we provide a curriculum that is both ambitious and inclusive.

We implement a deliberate and structured reading intervention programme that identifies those pupils whose reading level acts as a barrier to accessing the ambitious curriculum, and ensures that they make rapid progress to catch-up with their peers. We recognise that reading is the foundation stone of knowledge and use a synthetic phonics model reading programme (Read, Write Inc Fresh Start) to address the challenges experienced by our early readers in Years 7 and 8.

Curriculum and Teaching (Implementation)

Our curriculum principles align with our Teaching and Learning Framework (Appendix A) to ensure that our carefully planned and sequenced curricula are implemented in the most successful way by all our teachers for all our learners.

The emphasis here is on clarity: of task design: of explanation; and of modelling, so that all pupils have the opportunity to learn the ambitious content that we have planned in each subject and apply their knowledge and skills.

Curriculum and Assessment

By linking our assessment process explicitly to the content of the curriculum, we are able to ensure and assure ourselves that our pupils know more, can remember more and are able to do more. Through carefully-planned, regular low-stakes assessment, teachers are able to identify gaps in pupils’ knowledge and skills and adjust their teaching to ensure these gaps are filled and misconceptions addressed. 

Overall Aims of our assessment model

  • To ensure our assessment and reporting system reflects our work on curriculum development so that all stakeholders: pupils; parents; teachers; leaders; and governors can understand the links between our curriculum and the assessment of it. The curriculum is the progression model.

  • To ensure we have a system that assesses and reports on whether pupils are secure in our carefully specified core knowledge and skills.

  • To provide information on standards to leaders, governors, RLT and our Support and Challenge Partner so that they can provide effective challenge to the school.

  • To provide insight into the quality of education, which leads to continuous improvement.

  • To provide insight into individual student performance, which leads to individual improvement.

  • To allow us to define ‘progress’ in terms of pupils knowing more and remembering more of the school’s own curriculum.

Reporting to parents: the KS3 banded descriptor model.

This way of reporting assessment has been developed in line with secondary schools across the River Learning Trust and is consistent with the Trust-wide approach to assessment. It was refined during summer term 2022 through consultation with all Curriculum Leaders at the Marlborough School. 

The advantages of this system are:

  • simple and clear for staff, pupils, governors and parents to understand;

  • wide bands reduce extent of student-to-student comparison;

  • allows all subjects to maintain internal assessment processes which make sense to them (%s, tests, essays, practical work);

  • promotes developmental dialogue between Curriculum Leaders and the Leadership Team about the quality and impact of the curriculum over time;

  • ‘Secure’ can be used as a benchmark to compare standards with other schools during moderation.

It is an effective model that provides valuable information, whilst remaining manageable and sustainable for all staff. 

Curriculum and Pupils with SEND

Our curriculum is inclusive by design. We have taken deliberate steps to ensure that our ambitious curriculum is accessible for all pupils, particularly this with SEND and our disadvantaged. 

Evidence of this in all lessons:

  • Implementation of strategies within student profiles (SEND) and EHCP plans ensure that individual barriers are removed;

  • Intentional seating plans remove distractions and allow teachers to closely monitor engagement and understanding of SEND pupils;

  • Commitment to excellence removes distractions and creates a calm, safe and focussed learning environment;

  • Silent DNAs are used for regular retrieval practice to embed key content in long-term memory;

  • New material is presented in small steps (‘chunking’) to reduce the risk of cognitive overload;

  • Modelling of tasks helps pupils to better understand the thinking and processes that underpin tasks;

  • Targeted hands down questioning allows teachers to carefully check the understanding of SEND pupils.

Other deliberate approaches include:

  • Models for access and excellence in extended writing support pupils to identify and apply the features that represent quality;

  • High value tasks ensure that pupils are focussed on deepening understanding of key content and reduce the cognitive load associated with task instructions;

  • Scaffolding of tasks increases their accessibility e.g. sentence builders in MFL.

The next steps for our inclusive curriculum implementation are:

  • Pre-teaching of new subject specific and Tier 3 vocabulary:

  • Disciplinary reading strategies e.g. reciprocal reading where text is used in lessons to deliver content;

  • Structured paired discussion e.g. ‘think/pair/share’ used to allow pupils to articulate and organise their thoughts before completing written activities.

We make sure behaviour for learning is of the highest possible standard. We do not tolerate low-level disruption or off-task chatter. The visible learning behaviours we expect from our pupils are captured and described in our ‘Commitment to Excellence’ (C2E) (Appendix B) and our Ready to Learn Expectations (Appendix C documents. These are communicated in Year Assemblies, Whole School Assemblies and key messages, and are in every classroom across the school.   

Curriculum Impact

The impact of our curriculum is seen in the broad range of high-quality destinations achieved by our young people over the past three years, at both KS4 and KS5. 

These include:


Progress 8 2022: +0.42

51%: Students attending Sixth Form (any): 

41%: Students attending College

4%: Students apprenticeships

4%: Other destination e.g Forces

0.01%: NEETS: 

SEN outcomes and destinations: 

SEN progress -0.05; 

SEN Destinations: 99% firm destination of college, apprenticeship or Sixth Form

Ormerod destinations: 100% (college or The Marlborough 6th form)


5% Oxbridge

34% Russell Group

71% University (83% First Choice University)

13% Apprenticeship 

4% Other HE Institutions

11% Gap Year

1% Direct Employment

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