Key Stage 3 (Years 7 and 8)
All learners follow a rigorous, statutory Curriculum taught by specialist teachers. Subjects taught are:
English, Maths, Science – 3 hours per week. A literacy and numeracy lesson sits alongside this core learning to develop and enhance functional maths and English.
History, Geography, Modern Foreign Languages, PE – 2 hours per week
Computing, EPR (Ethics, Philosophy and Religion), Art, Performing Arts (music and Drama) and Technology– 1 hour per week
Darwen Vale offers alternative provision for targeted groups of learners across all year groups where a mainstream Curriculum is not accessible. Additional reading and language support is managed by specialists. In Year 9, pupils select and begin to study aspects of their Key Stage 4 courses in preparation for GCSE.
Key Stage 4
Tailored pathways are offered to ensure that all learners have the opportunity to achieve 8 good GCSE’s or equivalents.
All learners continue with English, Maths, Science, Computing and PE, but they can then choose to study:
Art and Design, Drama, Music, Dance, PE, Computer Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Spanish, German, French, History, Geography, Food Technology, Graphics, Product Design, Engineering and RE.
The English Baccalaureate is offered through a combination of History, Geography, French, German and Spanish and Sciences.
Alternative provision is offered to select learners, combining GCSE with vocational learning.
For further information please contact the Head of Department:
English, at Darwen Vale High School, fulfils the requirements of the National Curriculum for English, but relates directly to the GCSE English Curriculum, providing a route for progression throughout Key Stage 3, in preparation for Key Stage 4.
English Literature, at Darwen Vale High School, offers a wide range of texts which present a dynamic and innovative perspective allowing our students to explore cultural and historical context through time. From pre-nineteenth century literature, including works by Mary Shelley and Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, to more contemporary novels by William Golding and Susan Hill, our course of study transcend the skills required and offer an enriching experience for readers of all abilities.
We, at Darwen Vale High School, believe that the study of English and English literature is more than an academic measure as they encompass the life skills needed to grasp and enjoy their environment today.
Why study Computing?
All students who choose to study GCSE Computing will follow the OCR GCSE Computing course. This course will encourage students to be challenged and inspired whilst developing those essential skills to solve problems using programming.
OCR GCSE Computing takes you a long way into understanding how to solve problems by using computers. At its heart is the understanding of algorithms and how to write computer programs based on well-planned algorithms.
Computing is an extremely diverse subject where you can find yourself developing the next big mobile application, the latest wearable electronic fashion, providing technology evolutions to solve a medical issue or even making sure that our country is safe from hackers.
Computing is valued highly by colleges and universities and opens the door to many exciting and well-paid careers. This course has been developed to encourage independent thinkers, develop collaborative learning and problem solving skills. You will acquire and apply creative and technical skills, knowledge and understanding of Computing in a range of contexts.
What will students learn?
The GCSE Computing course is divided into three units:
Unit A451: Computer Systems and programming:
This unit covers the basic principles behind computer science as well as practical aspects. Students will prepare for a single 90 minute examination worth 40% of the marks.
The topics you will cover are:
• Fundamentals of computer systems.
• Computing hardware.
• Representation of data in computer systems.
• Computer communications and networking.
Unit A452: Practical Investigation:
This is a practical unit based on one of several scenarios that made available by OCR. It requires you to do some background research to find a solution to the specified problem taking into account how your solution affects real-life computing developments. (30% of the final mark)
Unit A453: Programming Project:
This practical unit requires you to solve a problem by writing program code. The programming language you will use will be Python and you will produce a working product that you will then evaluate. (30% of the final mark)
Both Unit A452 & A453 are collectively worth 60% of your final GCSE grade with Unit 451 (exam) making up the final 40%.
The aim of Computing is to develop confident digital citizens who understand the power of their digital world. It uses accessible, challenging and engaging projects that empower students and promotes the productive use of ICT.
Within Computing, we want students to feel able to ‘tinker’ with technology, to understand how it works and how to make it work for them; they should feel in control.
All students should have the opportunity to write their own programs, produce their own Apps or create professional quality digital products.
Students should feel safe when using technology and the web. They must learn what their rights and responsibilities are, as well as how legislation such as The Protection from Harassment Act and The Computer Misuse Act can affects them.
Finally, our young people must understand how to utilise the power of the cloud. Understand what services are available and that the cloud can be a powerful collaborative tool.
Computing at Key Stage 3
All students have 1 lesson of computing a week and complete a variety of projects.
These projects include:
• E-safety allowing the students to understand how to keep safe when using technology and the web. This project also includes teaching the students their rights and responsibilities and how different legislation affects them such as The Computer Misuse Act.
• Using programming software such as Scratch, Python and HTML. These projects allow the students to explore the different programming languages that are available.
• Creating professional quality digital products using a variety of software and exploring different design techniques needed for the relevant application.
A high-quality PE curriculum enables all pupils to enjoy and succeed in many kinds of physical activity. They develop a wide range of skills and the ability to use tactics, strategies and compositional ideas to perform successfully. When they are performing, they think about what they are doing, analyse the situation and make decisions. They also reflect on their own and others’ performances and find ways to improve them. As a result, they develop the confidence to take part in different physical activities and learn about the value of healthy, active lifestyles. Discovering what they like to do, what their aptitudes are at school, and how and where to get involved in physical activity helps them make informed choices about lifelong physical activity.
PE helps pupils develop personally and socially. They work as individuals, in groups and in teams, developing concepts of fairness and of personal and social responsibility. They take on different roles and responsibilities, including leadership, coaching and officiating. Through the range of experiences that PE offers, they learn how to be effective in competitive, creative and challenging situations.
Pupils find out about the history of their community, Britain, Europe and the world. They develop a chronological overview that enables them to make connections within and across different periods and societies. They investigate Britain’s relationships with the wider world, and relate past events to the present day.
As they develop their understanding of the nature of historical study, pupils ask and answer important questions, evaluate evidence, identify and analyse different interpretations of the past, and learn to substantiate any arguments and judgements they make. They appreciate why they are learning what they are learning and can debate its significance.
History prepares pupils for the future, equipping them with knowledge and skills that are prized in adult life, enhancing employability and developing an ability to take part in a democratic society. It encourages mutual understanding of the historic origins of our ethnic and cultural diversity, and helps pupils become confident and questioning individuals.
Geographical enquiry encourages questioning, investigation and critical thinking about issues affecting the world and people’s lives, now and in the future. Fieldwork is an essential element of this. Pupils learn to think spatially and use maps, visual images and new technologies, including geographical information systems (GIS), to obtain, present and analyse information. Geography inspires pupils to become global citizens by exploring their own place in the world, their values and their responsibilities to other people, to the environment and to the sustainability of the planet.
Music education encourages active involvement in different forms of music-making, both individual and communal, helping to develop a sense of group identity and togetherness. Music can influence pupils’ development in and out of school by fostering personal development and maturity, creating a sense of achievement and self-worth, and increasing pupils’ ability to work with others in a group context.
Music learning develops pupils’ critical skills: their ability to listen, to appreciate a wide variety of music, and to make judgements about musical quality. It also increases self-discipline, creativity, aesthetic sensitivity and fulfilment.
Working in stimulating contexts that provide a range of opportunities and draw on the local ethos, community and wider world, pupils identify needs and opportunities. They respond with ideas, products and systems, challenging expectations where appropriate. They combine practical and intellectual skills with an understanding of aesthetic, technical, cultural, health, social, emotional, economic, industrial and environmental issues. As they do so, they evaluate present and past design and technology, and its uses and effects. Through design and technology pupils develop confidence in using practical skills and become discriminating users of products. They apply their creative thinking and learn to innovate.
At Darwen Vale, pupils learn either French or German at Key Stage 3. Pupils can then opt to continue their language studies at GCSE level. GCSE Spanish is also an option at Key Stage 4. We follow the Edexcel GCSE syllabus and have a variety of modern resources that enthuse and stretch our pupils.
Education for economic well-being and financial capability aims to equip students with the knowledge, skills and attributes to make the most of changing opportunities in learning and work. Through their learning and experiences inside and outside school, students begin to understand the nature of the world of work, the diversity and function of business, and its contribution to national prosperity. They develop as questioning and informed consumers and learn to manage their money and finances effectively.
Learning and teaching activities in EPR contribute to the achievement of curriculum aims for all children to become
• successful learners who enjoy learning, make progress and achieve
• confident individuals who are able to live safe, healthy and fulfilling lives
• responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to society
EPR enhances pupils’ awareness and understanding of religions and beliefs, teachings, practices and forms of expression, as well as of the influence of religion on individuals, families, communities and cultures.
EPR has an important role in preparing pupils for adult life, employment and lifelong learning. It enables pupils to develop respect for and sensitivity to others, in particular those whose faiths and beliefs are different from their own. It promotes discernment and enables pupils to combat prejudice.