Our curriculum - broad and balanced

sewingNorton Hill School offers a broad and balanced curriculum throughout Key Stage 3. 

Unlike many schools, nearly all students take a language at GCSE as we believe in both the academic and cultural opportunities it offers.

All students are given the earliest opportunity to choose subjects they wish to specialise in:

  • Year 8 - students pick 2 subjects from The Arts, and two subjects from Technology which they wish to pursue in greater depth in Year 9.
  • Year 9 - students are supported in choosing their options.
  • We also offer a computing and Robotics course in Year 9 for students who have shown an aptitude for maths and computing.

Curriculum Overview and Towers

Please click here to access the KS3 overview and curriculum towers.

Assessments at KS3

At Key Stage 3, there is both a formal assessment every 7 to 14 weeks, as well as informal assessment through classwork and homework. The formal assessments lead to an equivalent GCSE grade to help track progress and inform parents.

After each assessment, students are given a ‘WWW’ (What Went Well’ and an EBI (Even Better If). These help the students understand where they have been successful, and what they need to do to improve. The EBI leads to an improvement in their work – such as using paragraphs to order an argument. – and is written in purple pen, to make it stand out as work that shows progress.

In Y9, the Core subjects start their GCSE courses during the year. Maths finish KS3 in February, and Science and English finish KS3 in April.

New grades:

New GCSE grades will now be used in KS3 to report attainment, instead of Levels. These GCSE grades will now be in the form of 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 & 1, with 9 as the highest grade, and a 5 equivalent to a high C. We will use the letters ‘a’, ‘b’, & ‘c’ to further divide these number grades, with ‘a’ showing students who are at the ‘top end’ of the grade, ‘b’ showing students who are in the ‘middle’ of the grade, and ‘c’ showing students who are at the ‘lower end’ of the grade.

The ‘old style’ GCSE grades of A*to G will be phased out of KS4 exams over the next two years. This will mean that you will be able to see what you are achieving in terms of a new GCSE grades of 9 to 1.


  •  Students receive 2 Progress reports and 1 Full School Report each year.
  • Parents also have the opportunity to attend a Parents evening.
  • Staff and HOH are available throughout the year if issues or concerns arise.

IAG - Information, Advice and Guidance

computersStudents are given many opportunities to decide which subjects are best for them at KS4, in tutor time, PSHE lessons, assemblies, an options evening, and 1-2-1 sessions with members of staff.

  • Information is given to students in November of Y9
  • PSHE lessons begin dealing with choices in Y9.
  • Options evening usually take place in January of Y9, quickly followed by a Parents evening, so students can see how they are getting on in subjects.

Working with primary schools to develop better assessments

We are presently working with local primary schools to ensure that the standards we expect by Y7 are in line with what students achieve in Y6 at Primary school, and that this is consistent across Primary schools in our Federation.

Settings in Y7
The average of Maths and English scaled scores are used to decide on lower and higher bands for both subjects. Each subject then sets individually.

Students are placed in the same sets for: English, French, History, Geography, P&B, IT, Science. These sets are determined primarily by their level of literacy. For the first year of science, we are ensuring that all students have covered the core areas of Biology, Physics and Chemistry before we set them for Y8.

In Y7, students also follow a very similar curriculum regardless of the sets, until we are able to set them more confidently in Y8.

In Y8 and 9, the settings are as follows:
Students are placed in the same sets for: English, French, History, Geography, P&B, IT. These sets are determined primarily by their level of literacy, but are also influenced by the progress they are making in the other subjects as well.

Students are set separately for Science, and for Maths.

Subject options in Y8
In Y8, students are asked to opt for greater specialism in the Arts and Technology. This allows students to have increased time to study fewer subjects, and master them at greater depth – producing more sophisticated outcomes.

If you require further information about the curriculum, please contact Mr Phillips, Deputy Head, at the school.