An Aspirational Curriculum

At Toot Hill School we endeavour to teach pupils the value of investing in their own future by working hard in every lesson and every day. Pupils are set personalised and challenging academic targets in every subject. These targets allow staff to recognise and celebrate the progress made by hard-working pupils, regardless of their comparative attainment. Targets are set using ‘Fischer Family Trust Aspire’ estimates that consider a pupil’s prior attainment, gender and month of birth. These targets support our aspiration that all Toot Hill pupils will do at least as well as their peers studying in the top 5 % of schools nationally. Teachers are expected to help pupils work towards these targets by planning and teaching lessons that cater for all pupils, and by marking pupils’ work regularly and providing feedback that helps them to improve.

Pupils receive a report every term with grades and scores for attainment, attitude and homework. Attainment grades are coded either blue, green or red, depending on whether teachers judge a pupil to be ‘above’, ‘on track’ or ‘below’ when comparing the current attainment level to the aspirational target.

Working hard enables pupils to fulfil their potential and hence fosters self-knowledge, self-esteem and self-confidence. It connects pupils with their own personal and academic development, and teaches them that everyone can achieve, if they are prepared to invest their time and effort. It also helps pupils to understand the need to respect the rights of every pupil to learn in a calm, focused and supportive atmosphere.

Curriculum Intent Statements

SMSC in the Curriculum

All schools are charged with developing pupils’ knowledge and understanding of spiritual, moral, social and cultural issues and themes. Subject leaders complete an SMSC audit of their taught curriculum, and identify opportunities for teachers to engage pupils in wider debate. Our staff promote a sense of social conscience, empathy and appreciation of the diverse nature of modern Britain.

Some elements of SMSC education are delivered through bespoke activities such as themed days, assemblies, charity events, tutor set activities and the work of our student council. These activities provide pupils with opportunities to learn about their rights and responsibilities in society, based upon the qualities we value at Toot Hill School: hard work, honesty, good manners and consideration for others.

Our students are encouraged to regard people of all faiths, races and cultures with respect and tolerance. Students have regular assemblies on these themes.

School Day

Our school day starts at 8.30 a.m., with a 15 minute Tutor Period, and finishes at 3.30 p.m. (2.10 p.m. on Fridays). Pupils have a 15 minute break in the morning and a 45 minute lunch break. In Years 7 to 11, pupils are taught eight 40 to 45 minute lessons a day. In some subjects some lessons are ‘doubles’ that last 1 hour 30 minutes. This enables teachers to plan a range of different activities, including those of a practical nature, and allows greater flexibility and more effective use of our resources.

Key Stage 3 Curriculum

In Years 7 and 8 pupils follow a varied curriculum that is prescribed for them and largely the same for all pupils:

Lessons Per Week
Subject Year 7 Year 8
English 6 7
Maths 5 5
Science 6 6
Geography 2 2
History 2 2
French, Spanish or German 4 4
Art 2 2
Drama 1 1
Music 2 1
Technology 2 2
Philosophy & Ethics 1 1
PE and Games 4 4
Total 38 38

Note that a relatively small number of pupils in year 7 and 8 have a reduced modern foreign language period allocation to allow them to access extra lessons in English.

Key Stage 4 Curriculum

Core Curriculum

All pupils continue to study English (GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature), Maths and Science through Key Stage 4. In Science pupils follow either separate GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics or GCSE Combined Science which is two GCSE qualifications.

Every student has to study GCSE Geography or History although students can elect to study both of these courses.

All pupils continue to have ‘core’ PE lessons every week.


In the spring term of Year 8 pupils are offered an open choice of subjects to follow at Key Stage 4. We ensure that pupils make informed choices through the structured use of assemblies, tutor set activities, parents’ evenings, open evenings and one-to-one interviews. Pupils are asked to choose options from the following list:

  • GCSE French
  • GCSE German
  • GCSE Spanish
  • GCSE Geography
  • GCSE History
  • GCSE Art & Design
  • GCSE Business Studies
  • GCSE Computing
  • GCSE Citizenship Studies
  • GCSE Drama
  • GCSE Economics
  • GCSE Fashion & Textiles
  • GCSE Food Preparation and Nutrition
  • GCSE Media Studies
  • GCSE Music
  • GCSE Philosophy & Ethics
  • GCSE Technology
  • BTEC Engineering
  • BTEC Performing Arts (Drama or Dance)
  • BTEC Sport
  • Cambridge National Child Development
  • WJEC Hospitality and Catering

Note that students are assigned a differing number of option subjects dependent upon the ability band that they are taught in. For example, in the current year 9 students study the following number of option subjects:

Teaching Band Year 9 Years 10 and 11
a 3 including one modern foreign language and following GCSE separate sciences 3 including one modern foreign language and following GCSE separate sciences
b 3 including one modern foreign language 4 including one modern foreign language
c 3 3
d 3 3

Note that the number of options for each band is reviewed every academic year for the new year 9 cohort. Students then adhere to this option structure throughout KS4.

Key Stage 5 Curriculum

Toot Hill College has general entry requirements which all students must meet in order to study here. For the academic year commencing in 2018, these are at least a grade 4 in GCSE English Language and a grade 4 in GCSE Mathematics.

There are also subject-specific entry requirements which students must meet in order to study particular courses; these are outlined in the college prospectus which can be found on the Toot Hill School website. The courses offered by the college are listed below.

A Level Courses

  • Art and Design
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computing
  • Drama and Theatre
  • Economics
  • English Combined
  • English Language
  • English Literature
  • Geography
  • Government and Politics
  • History
  • Law
  • Mathematics
  • Further Mathematics
  • Media Studies
  • French
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Music
  • Philosophy and Ethics
  • Photography
  • Physical Education
  • Physics
  • Product Design
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Textile Design

Vocational Courses

  • Cambridge Technical Business (Single Award)
  • Cambridge Technical Business (Double Award)
  • BTEC Information Technology (Single Award)
  • BTEC Applied Science (Double Award)
  • BTEC Sport (Single Award)
  • BTEC Sport (Double Award)

In addition to the courses presented here, students are presented with a wealth of enrichment opportunities including:

  • Extended Project Qualification
    Well-respected and recommended by top universities, College students at Toot Hill College are offered the opportunity to research and write a 5,000 word project on a topic of their choice.
  • Silver and Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (D of E)
  • Toot Hill College Passport
    A unique Toot Hill College programme that accredits students for 100 hours of volunteering in the school and local community
  • Students’ Union (Senior Prefects)
    An active Students’ Union enables greater autonomy for students in the creation of a ‘higher education’ ethos and provides opportunities for consultation regarding key college decisions.
  • World Challenge
    Students complete a two week expedition abroad as a team, including a community project, a challenging trek and a sight-seeing element.

August 2020


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