Curriculum Description

The Hele’s curriculum is organised around 50 1-hour lessons per fortnight, the timetable being delivered as Week A & Week B. Below is an overview of subjects and their allocation as offered at each Key Stage:

Note:  From September 2017 Key Stage 3 will run for students in Yrs 7-8, and Key Stage 4 will run throughout Yrs 9-11. We believe this gives students access to a more challenging and engaging curriculum through increased opportunities to master their chosen subjects, and achieve even greater success at GCSE level.

Key Stage 3

Students largely follow a 3-year KS3 currently, making their choices for KS4  mid-way through Year 9 (and this year also Y8 as we move to our new curriculum model for 2017). Several subjects start GCSE work already in Year 9 so as to bridge the gap between the Key Stages.

Mixed Ability/ Setting?

We are committed to achieving a balance between setting by ability and mixed ability delivery so as to ensure students have a well-rounded experience yet are challenged and supported in equal measure.

In Year 7 each Tutor group is a mixed ability group. Science, Personal Development, Music, Art, Drama and Computing are taught in these groups in Y7, whilst English, Maths, Humanities and MFL set their classes from the very start of Term 1.  Setting decisions are informed by using Teacher Assessments from Primary colleagues, & then reviewed later in the term using an average of KS2 SATs results and internal assessment data. Opportunities for set changes occur throughout the year & are informed by internal assessment data and discussions between Heads of Departments, students and parents as appropriate.

Students are taught in single-sex groups in PE as they are in Technology, although these groups need to be much smaller than a Tutor group (no more than 22 students in a Technology group) to safeguard youngsters in practical delivery.

We offer French or German as a first foreign language to Year 7, known as the ‘core’ language. This is decided upon entry; 4 Tutor groups take French and 4 take German. Set 4 of 4 in each language receive 1 less hour per week for MFL. Instead, this group receive an additional hour of English/Literacy to ensure rapid progress is made and students are brought up to age-related expectations as quickly as possible. A minority of students are disapplied from MFL in Year 7 and instead follow the Read, Write, Inc course to develop literacy.

This model is followed through into Years 8 & 9, with one change;  Science classes  are set by ability.

Key Stage 4

Students currently follow a 2-year KS4 in option subjects, and make 3 choices from an extensive range of subjects on offer. We are committed to providing a strong academic core for all of our young people, and 85% of our students study their core language to GCSE level. We have maintained our curriculum integrity by staying loyal to GCSEs, although we do offer BTECs and vCerts for a minority of youngsters or courses, where this is more appropriate.

All students in Year 10 and Year 11 study English (English Language and English Literature ), Maths (top sets will also sit Statistics so can potentially achieve 2 Maths GCSEs by the end of KS4),Science (Core and Additional or with an option of Triple Science for the most able Scientists)*, Active Leisure (non-examined PE, with an emphasis on healthy lifestyles), Religious Studies,  plus 85% of the cohort study French or German GCSE. Those students who do not study MFL have Key Skills sessions which include study skills, a 1:1 mentoring programme and the European Computer Driving license. Students also receive enhanced CEIAG & vocational tasters to prepare them for post-16 progression. Students on this pathway are still able to access 3 full GCSE option subjects, ensuring that they have a blended learning experience of vocational & academic opportunities more than ever before.

A programme of Citizenship, Personal Wellbeing, British Values, Health Education (including drugs, sex and sexual health), Economic Wellbeing and Careers is delivered through targeted 20 minute slots during morning Tutor periods, supplemented by cross-curricular delivery and occasional collapsed curriculum days, known as ‘Stop the Clock Days’.

KS4 students follow 3 GCSE courses from the following list:

Art; Business and Communication Systems; Business Studies; Computing; Design and Technology: Resistant Materials; Drama ; Engineering ; Geography; Health & Social Care; History ; Food and Nutrition; Hospitality ; ICT ; Music ; Physical Education; Product Design: Graphics; Science (Separate Sciences)*; Sociology.

In addition to this offer, able linguists may opt to follow a GCSE Spanish in twilight time, able Scientists may access Astronomy GCSE as enrichment, and those who dance outside of school may access Dance GCSE after school.

*In the new 3-year KS4 model from September 2017, Triple Science will be removed as an Option and students will be put on a science pathway in Year 10 which best suits their needs. This pathway will be informed by internal assessment data and discussions between teaching staff, the Head of Department, parents and students as appropriate.


We welcome the majority of our Year 11 learners on into our Sixth Form, and attract many applications from students across the city at this stage of their education. We offer two distinct pathways for Post 16 Learners, ensuring we are inclusive and can cater for the needs of individuals.

Pathway A: AS & A level courses

A wide range of courses are available in the brand new Sixth Form Centre. AS (I year course) /A Levels(2 year course) receive 9 hours of direct tuition from a subject specialist per fortnight, and 1 hour a fortnight of timetabled Independent Study which is to support wider reading & research around the subject by the students. The A Level subjects are divided into 5 teaching blocks, and students may only choose one subject from each block. Selected students are encouraged to make 4 choices for the first year of their Sixth Form programme. Some will be guided towards either Self Supported Study as a fourth option (i.e. curriculum ‘catch up’ time, with remote supervision and mentoring by the Pastoral Support Manager), or to the Extended Project at Level 3, Employability Award, or Work Experience. The most able youngsters will be able to make 4 A Level choices, as well as opting for Further Maths as a twilight option, or the Extended Project at Level 3 to further extend learning if appropriate.

A number of subjects are also provided on a consortium level, with a minority of students travelling to another school in the Plym Consortium to access a course. This collaboration not only provides consortium solutions to resolve potential clashes for young people but it also allows sharing of staff/resources/expertise to maximise efficiency, as well as the prospect of offering a broader range of courses and opportunities for Plym learners with appropriate, localised progression pathways.

All students follow a programme of personal development activities. There is a mentoring programme for students to consider higher education and employment. The Employability Award is used as a framework to capture, track and accredit broader learning and experience. Community development, personal development and voluntary work form important strands of this in-house award, and show a commitment to the holistic development of the learner.

Pathway B: Advanced level BTECs/ A levels/ GCSE retakes

We can offer packages such as the BTEC Level 2 in Sport and Leadership through Discovery College, or a mixture of courses such as BTEC in Applied Science alongside 2 A levels. For students who have not achieved a grade C in English or Maths at GCSE, this will form part of their Study Programme and may reduce the number of courses they select at Level 2.

Pathway C: Level 1 & 2 vocational courses

A one-year vocational study programme is offered through a variety of local off-site training providers as a stepping stone on to employment and apprenticeships. This is an individually negotiated programme giving students the opportunity to acquire nationally recognised vocational qualifications alongside work experience in an extensive range of areas, widening their employment and further education choices. Many of these students access provision at Hele’s to continue working towards GCSE English and Maths, and their timetable is shaped to suit their individual requirements. Students are encouraged and supported to gain work experience for one day a week. Some students return for a second year working at Level 2.


Extended Curriculum

There is a broad range of extra-curricular activities offered to youngsters of all ages, abilities and aptitudes. Many of these are subject-specific (e.g. PE clubs; Animal Club; Street Dance, etc.) although there are also cross-curricular and leadership programmes to engage learners on a more spiritual or social level (e.g. Christianity Club; Mindfulness; Duke of Edinburgh; CCF; Sports Leaders; Language Leaders; Literacy Leaders, etc.)

Our annual ‘Aspiration Week’ is an action-packed enrichment week for Years 7-9, whilst Year 10 and Year 12 are on work experience. During this week, the normal school timetable is suspended & replaced by an extensive menu of activities to suit all interests, giving all young people the chance to try new things or improve their skills & knowledge in hobbies or interests outside school, & to work with other young people across the age range. There are opportunities for residential experiences, sports, outdoor & adventure activities, creative and arts-based activities, science, technology and nature experiences , and of course this gives opportunities to improve or to try new hobbies and interests.

Work Experience remains an integral part of our curriculum guarantee to young people, despite the withdrawal of the statutory entitlement to Work Experience at KS4. All Year 10 learners have an opportunity to undertake a week of Work Experience with local employers during Aspiration Week. Post-16 students are actively encouraged and supported to undertake Work Experience throughout this week also. Those Year 10s not engaging in Work Experience follow an in-house programme around ‘Preparation for Working Life’ instead. Delivered in partnership with Training Providers, local Employers & Colleges, this programme has its emphasis on employability skills, CEIAG & First Aid

Curriculum Pathways

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