We offer a broad and progressive curriculum, taking into account the learning needs of each individual pupil.

Early Years Curriculum – Children take their first exciting steps into school life. Social, language and physical skills are rapidly developing, and are nurtured through play and game based activities. Underpinning the curriculum is an emphasis on promoting the Characteristics of Effective Learning: play and exploration; active learning and critical thinking. These are attributes which enable children to flourish as curious, resilient, independent learners.

Reception, Year 1 & 2 Curriculum – Reception builds on a firm foundation in Early Years. Inspired by a balance of play and more formal, adult-led learning, children’s Reading, Writing and Mathematical understanding takes off and soars. Children are encouraged to be active learners who do not give up when faced with challenge and are willing to have a go at new activities or experiences.

Year 3 to 6 Curriculum – Pupils in Years 3 – 6 enjoy a varied and exciting curriculum with lessons taught by their form tutor and subject specialists. Class sizes are small which enables children to be supported and challenged in a nurturing environment.

The Year 7 & 8 Curriculum – provides an important foundation for moving on to GCSEs, with a wide range of subjects offered and an emphasis on inspiring a love of learning and a thirst for knowledge.

In Years 10 and 11, all students study the core subjects of Mathematics, English, Science (Double or Triple) and Religious Studies. Students can choose up to four additional GCSE subjects that reflect their interests and abilities.
GCSE Options Booklet

The Sixth Form offers a broad curriculum of A Level subjects which are respected by universities and employers. The high level of in-depth study required at A Level ensures that students are adequately prepared for university. Students typically take three A Levels plus the Extended Project Qualification over two years.
Sixth Form Information Booklet

GCSE CORE SUBJECTS

English Language

Well-honed skills in both reading for meaning, and writing for different purposes and audiences, are essential for a successful life. Our students study a range of both modern fiction extracts, and nineteenth century and twenty-first century non-fiction extracts. Our students work hard on developing proficient writing skills in a range of styles. They sit two papers; explorations in creative reading and writing, and writers’ viewpoints and perspectives, as well as giving a 3-5 minute speech on a chosen topic.

Religious Studies

Religious Studies helps students develop knowledge and understanding of religions, non-religious beliefs, religious teachings, and sources of wisdom and authority. Our students engage with questions of belief, value, meaning, purpose, truth, and their influence on human life. Religious studies helps equip our students for life in a pluralistic society and global community. The course includes Roman Catholic Christianity, Judaism and  Philosophy and Ethics.

English Literature

Our curriculum is designed to give students a comprehensive exploration of literature in English, alongside a wide range of non-fiction texts and, importantly, honing those writing skills. The KS4 curriculum provides exposure to nineteenth century literature and non-fiction texts, creative and persuasive writing, poetry, drama texts and Shakespeare. We study the AQA English Language and Literature specifications; in addition at KS4 we ensure that the texts we explore and the skills we develop are clearly linked to KS5 English Literature.

Science

Science is investigative, relevant and dynamic. Our aim is to provide a sound foundation for all students and it is an essential qualification for over 30% of careers. Following science can lead to future work associated with genetic engineering, forensics, medical physics, nursing, telecommunications, biotechnology, engineering, technology and medicine. Furthermore, science enables our students to have a greater understanding of the world around them. Our students are prepared for the Combined Science: Trilogy Award (2 GCSEs), which is part of the compulsory core curriculum for all students. Alternatively, they can choose to take Triple Science (3 GCSEs) using one of their option choices. In each case there are 6 exams, two each of Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

Mathematics

Mathematics is about solving problems; either real world or abstract and algebraic.
Our students learn to develop fluent knowledge, skills, an understanding of mathematical methods and concepts and apply these mathematical techniques to solve problems and draw conclusions. The course content is broken down into four main areas, Number, Algebra, Geometry & Shape, and Probability & Statistics. Students will take part in the Junior and Intermediate Mathematical Challenge run by the United Kingdom Mathematical Trust. All students in year 11 will take the iGCSE in Mathematics. Some students will take a GCSE Further Mathematics qualification as well.

GCSE OPTIONAL SUBJECTS

Fine Art

GCSE Art is about having an adventurous and enquiring approach to the visual world and developing the skills to express it. Our students learn about past and contemporary art and design and are able to produce a personal response embracing a range of ideas. Our students develop the skills to investigate, analyse and experiment, as well as expanding their imaginative powers and the skills to express their ideas and feelings. They will also gain an understanding of the place of art, craft and design in history and in society. The GCSE course is made up of two parts, a personal portfolio in Art and Design and an externally set assignment.

Food Prep & Nutrition

Food Preparation and Nutrition is a starting point for many careers and a good foundation for further education courses concerned with nutrition and diet, food safety, quality control, product development and food science. This exciting course offers a wide range of food related topics for study and includes practical work. Both theory and practical skills are assessed during the course which ensures students develop a thorough understanding of nutrition, food science, food provenance and the working characteristics of food materials.

Geography

Geography is the study of Earth’s landscapes, people, places and environments. Geography at St Joseph’s harnesses the natural inquisitiveness of our pupils for the world around
them. It provides them with a toolbox of skills to interpret their world whilst being aware of their responsibilities as a global citizen. We create a welcoming, enjoyable environment that strives to make the outside world come alive within our community. Topics of study include climate change, poverty, deprivation, global shifts in economic power and the challenge of
sustainable resource use. Two days of fieldwork will be undertaken in contrasting
environments. The department is a member of both the Royal Geographical Society and the Geographical Association.

ICT

ICT gives students the essential computer skills used in the work environment as well as computer skills that can be used in their other subjects. ICT is a fast changing subject and the course has been revised to reflect the latest developments. The course is modern, has a high degree of practical work and is relevant to future studies and employment with the vast majority of jobs making use of computer technology. Students will learn practical ICT skills including website design, databases with relationships, spreadsheets, desktop publishing and mail merge. They will also learn about a range of computer hardware, computer networks, the internet and its impact on society. ICT students can enrol into the national Cyber Centurion competition, which is a cyber-security competition to defend network security.

Physical Education

Students who enjoy sports performance will thrive in this GCSE subject. The topics relate to students as performers and can help them understand how to train and perform better in their sport. Practical sessions will teach them more challenging skills and give them a wider range of sporting performance. The theoretical topics are, the human body and movement in

physical activity; physical training; health and well-being; sports psychology; sports technology and data analysis; sport in society. Practical sessions run alongside Senior games to include indoor climbing, netball or football and athletics or tennis. 

Computer Science

Computer Science develops our students’ understanding of the main principles of problem solving using computers. They will learn to develop computer-based solutions to problems using algorithms and a high-level programming language. Computer Science and ICT are not the same subjects; ICT teaches students how to use modern computer technologies whereas Computer Science teaches them how to design and develop computer-based solutions. Computer Science provides students with the underpinning knowledge required for many other subjects in science and engineering, and the skills learnt can be used in everyday life.;

French

The French GCSE course enables our students to understand the spoken and written language, and use it confidently to communicate with French-speaking people, in social and professional contexts. The course involves lively, challenging and motivating activities to enable our students to learn the vocabulary and constructions they will need. Listening, speaking, reading and writing are assessed at the end of the course, each by one examination. During the course there are opportunities to exchange information and views with students in our partner school in France, and to visit the country.

Graphic Communication

Our students are introduced to a range of graphic media, techniques and processes, both traditional and new technologies. They explore images, artefacts and resources relating to a range of graphic communication from the past and recent times, throughout the world. Students choose to study one or more areas of Graphic Communication, including communication graphics, design for print, advertising and branding, illustration, package design, typography, multimedia, motion graphics, signage and exhibition graphics.

Latin

Students studying Latin build on what they have learned of the Latin language and Roman civilisation in Years 8 and 9. They gradually extend their knowledge of vocabulary, grammar
and the way the Romans lived, and read some Latin literature. Students explore Roman civilisation by studying English translations of short Latin texts and archaeological evidence
of the way Romans lived, including on a visit to a Roman site.

Spanish

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world. Studying Spanish makes students stand out from the crowd when applying for university and jobs. Spanish develops students’ social, communication and problem-solving skills, and enhances their knowledge of Hispanic culture, people and lifestyle. Students are assessed on listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students studying Spanish at St Joseph’s attend a GCSE Spanish Conference in London and a residential trip to Spain, as well as extra-curricular events such as Spanish Film Club or Tapas and Friends.

Drama

Students studying drama will work with their peers to create theatre. They will study theatre as an art form; its cultural and historical relevance; the creative processes of significant drama practitioners, directors and theatre companies, and significant dramatic literature from the theatrical canon. Drama offers the chance to perform, create, direct and design, as well as developing crucial skills for the future, such as collaboration and personal reflection. Students will perform extracts from challenging texts; working on diction, expression, intonation and how to convey meaning and create impact, alongside developing character and stagecraft. Our drama students go on theatre trips and take part in at least one workshop with a visiting theatre company.

Geography

Geography is the study of Earth’s landscapes, people, places and environments. Geography at St Joseph’s harnesses the natural inquisitiveness of our pupils for the world around them. It provides them with a toolbox of skills to interpret their world whilst being aware of their responsibilities as a global citizen. We create a welcoming, enjoyable environment that strives to make the outside world come alive within our community.

Students study the AQA GCSE course. This exciting and relevant course studies Geography in a balanced framework of physical and human themes and investigates the link between them. Students will travel the world from their classroom, exploring case studies in the United Kingdom (UK), higher income countries (HICs), newly emerging economies (NEEs) and lower income countries (LICs). Topics of study include climate change, poverty, deprivation, global shifts in economic power and the challenge of sustainable resource use. Students are also encouraged to understand their role in society, by considering different viewpoints, values and attitudes.

Two days of fieldwork is undertaken in contrasting environments. The department is a member of the Royal Geographical Society and the Geographical Association. The department regularly attends the Mountain and Ocean Film Festivals at the Hexagon and has a very active eco-committee.

History

History enables students to study different aspects of the past, so they can engage with what drives change and how the past influences the present. Students will study Germany 1890-1945; democracy and dictatorship and The wider-world; conflict and tension 1918-1939 for Paper 1. Paper 2 will focus on Health and the people in Britain; c1000 to the present day and Elizabethan England, c1568-1603. The History Department offers a visit to Berlin to assist in enriching the syllabus, and opportunities to visit London on study days where available. History Club is available to all students who wish to deepen their understanding of any topic, not just those taught in lessons.

Music

GCSE Music is for students who enjoy music and have an aptitude for it. The course consists of three components: listening, performing and composing. Listening includes not only traditional styles but also film and popular music. All musical tastes are explored and students are encouraged to develop their own musical interests. Students will perform instrumentally or sing, both solo and in small ensembles. The course is designed for candidates of all abilities so everyone is able to participate at their own level. We run termly trips to concerts and lunchtime recitals.

Systems Control in Engineering

This GCSE subject enables students to find out how electronic products, computers and gadgets work, understand how they were designed and then build on this experience by developing their own electronic systems and products. This course is a great introduction to the world of engineering for any prospective engineer or scientist. Students learn about a wide range of electronic components including digital electronics, Peripheral Interface Controllers (PICs) and Integrated Circuits (ICs). St Joseph’s has a well-equipped technology room, which includes PCs with CAD software, a PCB Engraver, Laser Cutter and 3D printer in addition to hand tools for making circuits.

A LEVEL SUBJECTS

Art and Design

Art and Design develops students’ abilities to appreciate the visual world and to enable them to respond in a personal and creative way. The course encourages students to refine their technical skills, trust their creative instincts and investigate the work of varying artists enabling their personal style to evolve. The course aims to foster an enquiring mind, enjoyment and appreciation of Art and Design as a visual language. The structure of the course offers rich opportunities for students to pursue their own interests within Fine Art, Art, Craft and Design or Graphic Communication.

Chemistry

The course provides a practical experience for students to increase their enjoyment and understanding of Chemistry, along with the skills to study the subject at a higher level. Through studying selected topics in Organic, Physical and Inorganic Chemistry, students have the opportunities to make observations, critically analyse results and use their problem solving skills. Different aspects of contemporary chemistry are included such as pharmaceuticals and alternative fuels. The Chemistry department has close links to Reading University and students have the opportunity to visit the Spectroscopy suite.

Drama and Theatre Studies

This course explores theatre as an art form; developing students’ understanding of the cultural, social and historical context, their skills in a range of theatrical mediums: acting, directing, design and theatre technologies, and enabling them to think creatively, work collaboratively and respond analytically. There are three components; Drama and Theatre, Creating Original Drama – devising a piece of theatre, and Making Theatre – the performance of three theatrical texts. Regular theatre visits are undertaken and workshops are held within and outside school. Students are invited to help with lower school productions, as well as participating in their own senior and whole school performances. Students can also take
optional Speech and Drama lessons (LAMDA).

French

As well as learning more French, students will learn about how French speakers live, think and feel. This course is rooted firmly in the French-speaking world and aims to broaden, enrich and inspire. In Year 12 students discover young French speakers’ experience and opinions of music, cinema, family and society. Students also study one film, novel, or play and learn to share their own views engagingly in French. In Year 13 students explore social and political issues, study a novel or play and research a topic of personal interest.
Sixth Form linguists enjoy opportunities to visit France and see French films, plays and exhibitions closer to home.

Information Technology

This course sees students develop a wide range of IT skills together with an in-depth knowledge and understanding of IT. Students learn about: data, information knowledge and processing, hardware and software, monitoring and control, e-safety and health and safety, the digital divide, networks, expert systems, spreadsheets, database and file concepts, sound and video editing, emerging technologies, role and impact of IT in society, project management, system life cycle, graphics creation, animation, mail merge and programming for the web (JavaScript).

Psychology

This course offers an engaging and effective introduction to Psychology, covering the fundamentals and enabling the development of skills valued by Higher Education and employers, including critical analysis, independent thinking and research. The course covers: 1. approaches and methods related to the core areas of Psychology – cognitive, social, biological, developmental, individual differences and research methods, 2. explanations from different perspectives, along with psychological issues and debates; and 3. a range of attractive topic options to ensure that students experience an interesting, diverse and coherent course of study.

Philosophy, Ethics and Religion

This course develops an interest in a rigorous study of religion and belief and the ability to relate it to the wider world. It encourages students to adopt an enquiring, critical and reflective approach to the study of religion and develop their own values, opinions and attitudes in the light of their study. The course comprises the Philosophy of Religion, Religion and Ethics; and Developments in Religious Thought. Year 12 have the opportunity to take part in the CAFOD Youth Leadership scheme.

Biology

This course helps students develop a number of skills such as collecting and evaluating data, investigating facts and using deduction, communicating a point of view effectively and developing independent learning skills. The course is made up of eight topics; Lifestyle, Health and Risk, Genes and Health, Voice of the Genome, Biodiversity and Natural Resources, On the Wild Side, Immunity, Infection and Forensics, Run for your Life and Grey Matter. The course includes visits to Reading University to see their Electron Microscope and Bayer to perform complex experiments in a research environment. Our weekly Café Scientifique gives students an opportunity to hear external guest speakers.

Classical Civilisation

This course provides students with a broad and rewarding study of the classical world. Students have the opportunity to study elements of the literature, visual/material culture and thoughts of the classical world while acquiring an understanding of their social historical and cultural contexts. The course is made up of three modules; The World of the Hero, an in-depth study of one of Homer’s epic poems and Virgil’s Aeneid; Culture and the Arts; and Beliefs and Ideas, a study of Greek Religion and the role it plays in society, alongside the functions and layout of famous temple complexes.

Economics

In Economics you will look at issues which affect our lives, such as economic scarcity, employment, prices, international trade and poverty. Economists often debate over these issues and it is this controversy which makes Economics lively and interesting and which allows students to form their own opinions. The course involves three modules; Markets and Market failure, National and International economy, and Economic principles and issues. Economics is a versatile subject that helps students in a number of careers.

Geography

Studying the AQA course, students are encouraged to recognise the complexity of the relationship between people and their environment, engage as knowledgeable, questioning citizens, who realise that the values, attitudes and circumstances of people impact upon their decisions in the world. The course includes a variety of Physical and Human topics, which reflect current world issues and themes. There are four days of fieldwork incorporating the use and analysis of graphs, maps, statistics and digital data. The department regularly attends study days at the Royal Geographical Society, the Mountain and Ocean Film Festivals at the Hexagon and has a very active eco-committee.

Mathematics

6th Form mathematicians will further develop the techniques introduced in years 7 to 11. Students will develop mathematical skills, coherent arguments and logical reasoning and apply these to increasingly complex and multi layered problems. The A Level in Mathematics is split between Pure Mathematics, Mechanics and Statistics. The main components of Pure Mathematics include Algebra, Geometry, Calculus, Proof and Trigonometry. The Mechanics and Statistics component covers Kinematics, Newton’s Laws, Probability, Statistical Distributions and Hypothesis Testing.

A Level Further Mathematics is a separate qualification to Mathematics and can be taken as a fourth A Level option. Half of the Further Mathematics course is Pure Mathematics and introduces Complex Numbers, Differential Equations and Matrices amongst others. The other half can be chosen from Mechanics, Statistics, Decision Mathematics or more Pure. Students will take part in the Senior Mathematical Challenge run by the United Kingdom Mathematical Trust.

Physical Education

This course allows students to play to their strengths in performing their main sport to a high level. Theoretical content offers a deeper understanding of how the mind and the body of a performer change and adapt to the varying demands of training and competition. The course content includes Applied Anatomy and Physiology, Skill Acquisition, Sport in Society, Exercise Physiology, Biomechanics, Sports Psychology, Sport Technology in Society, and Practical Performance or Coaching in one sport. Students have the opportunity to develop their skills beyond the classroom in a variety of ways: organising and running their own sessions, coaching junior teams or taking part in structured activities with staff.

Spanish

A Level Spanish helps students develop confident, effective communication skills in Spanish and a thorough understanding of the culture of countries and communities where Spanish is spoken. It develops an interest in, and enthusiasm for, language learning and encourages students to consider their study of the language in a broader context. The course covers; Hispanic Society, Artistic culture in the Hispanic world, Political life in the Hispanic world, Literature: La Casa de Barnarda Alba, and Film: Ocho Apellidos Vascos. Extracurricular opportunities include residential trips to Spain, attendance at exam skills conferences, theatre visits, trips to the Flamenco Festival, tapas evenings, Spanish film nights/cinema outings and access to Spanish media.

Business Studies

This course aims to generate enterprising and creative approaches to business opportunities, problems and issues. It encourages students to be aware of the ethical dilemmas and responsibilities faced by organisations and individuals, and to acquire a range of relevant business skills. The course content includes meeting customer needs, marketing, managing people, entrepreneurs and leaders, raising finance, financial planning, resource management, business objectives and strategy, business growth, assessing competitiveness, managing change, globalisation, global markets and industries, and business expansion. Opportunities include running a business through the Young Enterprise scheme and taking part in ICAEW’s National Business Accounting and Skills Education competition.

Computer Science

The course content includes Computer Systems; processors, input, output and storage devices, software development, data exchange, data types and structures, legal, moral, cultural and ethical issues; Algorithms and Programming; computational thinking, problem solving and a Programming project (non-exam assessment). Students will be expected to analyse a problem, design, develop, test, evaluate and document a program. The program must solve the problem and should be written in a suitable programming language. Students will have the opportunity to take part in the CyberCenturion Cyber Security Challenge.

English Literature

The aim of this course is to foster a love of, and appreciation for, a range of literature and to encourage students to pursue their own independent study into an area of literature they especially enjoy. It also aims to broaden their knowledge and encourage wider reading of texts that have shaped our own and other cultures. The course involves exploring poetry and prose pre 1900 and a Shakespeare text, discovering modern day texts post 1945 and an independent critical study where students research texts of their own choice. Students go on a wide variety of theatre trips and also take part in conferences.

History

History aims to develop students’ expertise in analysing and evaluating documents and acquiring knowledge of a wide range of topics in British and World History. Units comprise of the study of Alfred the Great and the making of England, Italy from 1896-1943 and Popular Culture and the Witchcraze of the 16th and 17th centuries. The final module is completed independently by the student and can be on a topic of their choosing from virtually any time period. This acts as a forerunner to a dissertation they are likely to complete at university and can be hugely rewarding.

Music

A Level Music aims to extend the skills required to take part in, and appreciate making, music, developing each student’s musical interests, encouraging lifelong learning and providing access to music-related and other careers. A Level Music offers an exciting combination of performance and composition alongside listening and appraising. Apart from regular concert trips, A Level students participate in most extra-curricular activities within the College as well as running Junior Wind Band and A Capella. They can benefit from recitals, masterclasses and lunchtime concerts from professional musicians, and take part in musical productions such as Little Shop of Horrors and Sister Act. Students can also travel abroad with our biennial music tours to Europe.

Physics

This course provides a smooth pathway to university courses in physics and other subjects in which physics is a key component, whilst developing students’ interest and enthusiasm. The course includes an interesting range of topics for both theory and practical study, such as Mechanics, Waves, Nuclear and Particle Physics, and Electric Circuits. The Physics department has two well-equipped laboratories and has very good technical support. Students regularly carry out experimental work to understand theory better and develop their practical skills. Pupils get to see the most advanced research in Particle Physics during a trip to CERN in Geneva and Gas Physics is illustrated by a Scuba Diving initiation. Each year, teams enter the very successful F1 in Schools Challenge.

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