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Curriculum

“Culture is to know the best that has been said and thought”

Matthew Arnold

At Mercia School, we believe all pupils, whatever their background or ability, have a right to access the best that has been said and thought. This includes a variety of writers, from all parts of the world, and thinkers from all the ages. If you would like to find out more about the curriculum, please email enquiries@merciaschool.com 

We proudly offer a full curriculum (outlined below) to all pupils, underlining the ambition and high expectations we have for each and every one of them. Crucially, pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEND) enjoy the full curriculum and are supported to access it where required.  Pupils are not withdrawn from the fascinating curriculum offered, they are supported to consume and enjoy it. As outlined below, the curriculum can be adapted in order to meet the needs of individual pupils. We are very proud of the high standards we have for pupils with SEND and delight in how well the SEND cohort access the curriculum on offer. As driven by the Equality Act 2010, Marcia School is committed to making reasonable adjustments where required to ensure full access to the curriculum for all pupils. 

Strategic Intent:

To develop and refine a whole school curriculum which:

  • Supports pupils to develop their understanding of the world we live in. The curriculum is designed to allow pupils to accumulate huge amounts of knowledge that allows them to thrive in modern Britain.
  • Enables pupils to encounter a broad and balanced curriculum in each and every subject. Every subject seeks to cover a wide range of content in Key Stage 3, before we specialise for a 2-year Key Stage 4 and 5. 
  • Provides all pupils with access to the academic EBACC suite of subjects – these subjects make up a significant part of the school’s curriculum and it is our intention that 100% of pupils are able to study EBACC GCSEs. This will ensure all doors are open for them as they move in to higher education and in to valuable careers of their choosing. We also recognise the need to make careful curriculum choices for a very small number of SEND pupils. 

  • Enables pupils to make well-considered links across subjects. For example, during the study of the Norman Conquest in history, pupils consider the exploits of Guillaume le Conquerant in French. This intention helps pupils to solidify and remember key knowledge in both subject areas.
  • Provides opportunities for pupil to commit knowledge to their long term memory through carefully planned opportunities to practice. 
  • Develops a love of learning within each subject. We are ambitious for our pupils and work tirelessly to develop the next great historians, geographers, writers, mathematicians, linguists, scientists, musicians and artists.
  • Designed to be remembered, not merely encountered. Pupils have not learnt anything unless they can remember it. Our intention is to ensure all pupils can remember a lot and then apply it to the disciplines on offer.

Curriculum Implementation: 

The school is relentless in its ambition that all pupils can learn and enjoy every single subject. The curriculum seeks to embed a significant amount of knowledge, whilst ensuring pupils are highly proficient in a skillset that is specific to the learning of each subject discipline on offer. Subject departments will often overlap content to help pupils remember and consolidate their learning. Pupils receive numerous opportunities to apply knowledge to larger, subject specific concepts on a regular basis. 

The implementation of the school's curriculum is aided by:

  1. Reading every single day. Pupils begin the day with 30 minutes of reading, a time when the encounter the very best novels and texts of our time
  2. Excellent behaviour. Pupils are able to work in a calm, motivating environment and pupils are explicitly taught character traits that help them develop as valuable citizens and good, honest people. 
  3. High-quality pastoral care. All pupils are supported in their learning by a Mastery Tutor, Head of House and Head of Year. Every child has the capacity to learn and grow, we support all to do just that every single day. 
  4. Superb enrichment. All pupils participate in high-quality electives that help to develop pupil creativity, expression and athleticism. We run educational visits, university trips and a wide variety of careers days to help break down any barrier to pupil achievement. 
  5. An inclusive environment. Whilst we expect the very highest standards in terms of behaviour and academic performance, all pupils are supported to thrive in the school. We support our SEND pupils through exceptional teaching and tailored, timely teacher-led intervention. Extra support is always on hand for our most vulnerable pupils.
  6. Mastery Time. This is a time in the day where pupils learn about a wide range of subjects such as; religious education, British Values, PSHE, careers education, classical music, LGBT education and much more. This time (30 minutes every day) helps us to ensure we meet our statutory obligations. 

Curriculum Subjects:

Please note that the school's curriculum in 2021-22 has been amended to prioritise essential knowledge and vital skills after the impact of school closures. The full GCSE curriculum is outlined here, with additional information available from the Exam Boards. All required website links are provided below, in each subject's section. 

English

  Year 7 Year 8 Year 9
Unit 1  Ancient Literature  Shakespearean Tragedy  The Late Plays 
Unit 2 Homer - Ancient Poetry Gothic Fiction  War Poetry 
Unit 3 Tragedy 19th Century Novel  War Literature 
Unit 4 Comedy Dickens  Modern Text 
Unit 5 Romantic Poetry Victorian Poetry  Modern Drama 
Unit 6 Romantic Novel  Victorian Novel  Representations in Literature

GCSE English Literature

Exam Board: AQA GCSE English literature (8702)

English Literature is the study of literary texts at an analytical level that allows pupils to develop a confidence in both reading and responding to challenging texts. The course allows for the development of personal voice and rewards pupils who have insightful knowledge and a passion for the subject. The course covers the main literary eras - from Shakespeare, to Dickens. The course also spans the genres of poetry and prose. Contextual understanding is key, as pupils are in a stronger position to really develop a firm understanding of what they are studying and essentially why it matters. Given our heavy influence on the canon, pupils are confident about the significance of literary greats and they will be able to exploit that knowledge throughout the course. Their prior knowledge is advantageous at this point.

The course spans the two years allocated and is taught in a combined way with English Language. The course is structured in units, based around each text. The knowledge cross over and application of linguistic terminology is similar to pupil experiences in Key Stage Three and  pupils will be very familiar with the writers and styles. 

Knowledge in English

Pupils already have a firm foundation of knowledge in English. Essentially, their development of knowledge will continue at GCSE, as the more they know about writers and texts, the more they can apply this and excel. English needs a firm foundation of knowledge, so that pupils can apply analysis and evaluate in different contexts. We have built this throughout Key Stage 3 (Year 7-9). In Key Stage 4 (Year 10-11), pupils will be taught knowledge of:

  • Shakespeare - style, genre, language, context, literary significance and culture
  • 19th Century Writers - social concerns, development of style, knowledge of language use
  • A selection of Poetry, including Unseen Poetry - effects, purpose, meaning and expression, individual context
  • Modern Text - The importance of contextual influence, style, author aims and message

How Pupils are Prepared for GCSE

Pupils have read extensively at Mercia School and are happy to do so. As we have already read in excess of twenty-five high quality literary texts, this course will simply be an opportunity to develop what we know and embrace new texts. A firm grammatical knowledge is advantageous when exploring meaning and our approaches to planning already ensure that we have sustained writing. Our assessments have already prepared pupils for extended responses and we have developed pupils who have the ability to think, reflect and write with passion. We believe they will excel in this subject area and the content will feel familiar, due to how we have planned the whole course.

A Level and Beyond

We believe that Mercia pupils will be in a strong position to take English at A Level. English Literature is seen as a facilitating subject at university and offers a strong compliment to those studying history, or even as a passion for those studying mathematics and science. Given the academic nature and study, developing fluency and expression is a great cross over to all subjects and we think pupils who thrive in this subject will be supported in all their studies, with their skills of note taking, reading, analysis, planning and writing. Studied at university exclusively or as part of combined courses, studies in English make up over 22% of university courses. 52,540 students were studying English last year.

Course Specifics

More information about the GCSE course we have chosen, alongside assessment materials pupils can attempt, can be found here: 

https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/gcse/english-literature-8702

GCSE English Language 

Exam Board: AQA GCSE English Language (8700)

English Language is the close study of a range of texts at an analytical level that allows pupils to develop a fine level analysis and close understanding of author craft and effects. The course allows for the development of an analytical voice and rewards pupils who have perceptive ability and a confident writing style. The course covers the main literary eras - offering both prose and non-fiction texts spanning the 19th- 20th centuries. Terminology is key, as pupils are in a stronger position to really develop analysis of unseen texts when they have a confidence with the application of methods and a security in their comments on effects. Given our very academic curriculum, with a strong focus on grammatical knowledge, pupils are well prepared to tackle challenging unseen texts and meet the creative demands of writing for genre and purpose. Their prior knowledge is advantageous as pupils plan and write with confidence. We have worked on bettering reading skill and inevitably, better readers are better writers.

Knowledge in English

English needs a firm foundation of knowledge, so that pupils can apply analysis and evaluate in different contexts. We have built this throughout Key Stage 3. In Key Stage 4, pupils will be taught knowledge of:

  • Language and Structure - how writers create meaning and effects
  • Evaluation - how to critique the effectiveness and effects in texts
  • Creative Writing - knowledge of genres and forms and features of style
  • Summary and synopsis - linking texts, concise expression, detailed precision

How Pupils are Prepared for GCSE

We have already built a foundation of literary analysis and grammar knowledge, this course simply presents an opportunity to develop what pupils know and embrace new texts. A firm grammatical knowledge is advantageous when exploring effects and our approaches to planning already ensure that we have writers who think about what they want to communicate and how to do so. Our Assessments have already prepared pupils for extended responses, writing in depth, planning and of course the importance of accuracy. Our approach to quizzing and testing has also ensured that pupils have retained much needed terminology and will be able to apply this fitfully in the examinations.

A Level and Beyond

We believe that Mercia pupils will be in a strong position to take English at A Level. English Language is seen as a favourable A Level and is a strong compliment to those studying English Literature, History and Politics. Given the academic nature and study, developing fluency and expression is a great cross over to all subjects and we think pupils who thrive in this subject will be supported in all their studies, with their skills of note taking, reading, analysis, planning and writing.

Course Specifics

More information about the GCSE course we have chosen, alongside assessment materials pupils can attempt, can be found here: 

https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/gcse/english-language-8700

Mathematics 

  Year 7 Year 8 Year 9
Unit 1 Number 1: four operations, place value, negative numbers Working with ratios and percentages Algebra 3: inequalities and simultaneous equations 
Unit 2 Number 2: powers, roots, order of operations, rounding and estimation Circles and formulae Number: standard form and surds 
Unit 3 Fractions  and types of number Introduction to statistics and data Shape: Pythagoras and constructions 
Unit 4 Two dimensional shapes Introduction to probability Quadratic equations 
Unit 5 Algebra 1: equivalence and manipulation  Sequences and Graphs  Similarity, congruence and trigonometry 
Unit 6 Algebra 2: solving linear equations 3D shapes and transformations Direct and indirect proportion and non-linear graphs

GCSE Mathematics

Exam Board: Edexcel (1MA1)

Maths is at the heart of Mercia School’s traditional curriculum. It helps pupils make sense of the world around them - not just in terms of numbers but, increasingly, in more complex arenas: algebra, geometry, statistics and probability. Mathematical knowledge and skill opens the doors to deeper understanding in many more subjects – especially the sciences. Grappling with increasingly difficult mathematical challenges means pupils develop methods to solve problems even when solutions may not immediately seem obvious.

Pupils at Mercia School have built solid foundations of mathematical knowledge and skills throughout Key Stage 3. All pupils have become increasingly fluent in working with number. On top of that, the main principles of algebra, shape, proportion, ratio, probability and statistics have all been introduced. Whatever their starting point, Mercia pupils have made excellent progress – this has been down to their hard work as well as some of the extra aspects of maths at Mercia School, including: the Accelerated Maths programme; the Junior Maths Challenges; and optional enrichment in areas such as decision maths and puzzles.

The maths curriculum for Year 10 and 11 has been designed especially to build on and strengthen the knowledge and skills taught in Key Stage 3. Increasingly, pupils apply what they know to situations involving multi-step problems. They are expected to communicate as expert mathematicians. And they have to draw on their fortitude as learners when things get tricky (as they inevitably do!).

The content and structure of the curriculum will appear familiar to pupils. It will comprise a mix of number, algebra, shape, probability and statistics topics. These will become increasingly challenging – for example with the introduction of trigonometry, surds and algebraic proof. As always, Mercia School teachers introduce and explain new concepts carefully before pupils practice applying their newly-gained knowledge. This approach is very familiar to our pupils. 

Knowledge in Maths

Pupils at Mercia have made excellent progress in their maths, and have become fluent in the most crucial knowledge. In Key Stage 4, pupils are taught new areas including:

  • Trigonometry
  • Advanced proportional reasoning – including direct and indirect proportion
  • Quadratic equations and their graphical representations
  • Vectors
  • Congruence and similarity

Pupils are also given extended practice in applying the knowledge gained in Key Stage 3 to more advanced problem solving and reasoning situations.

How Pupils are Prepared for GCSE

Pupils  continue to complete many ‘low stakes’ quizzes in maths to ensure that new knowledge and skills are practised until they are mastered. Teachers still lead from the front – showing examples, explaining reasoning and correcting misconceptions when they arise. Assessments follow a similar structure to Key Stage 3, but they gradually incorporate longer and more challenging multi-step questions.

As our pupils are keen to tell us, they don’t just practise until they get something right; they practise until they can’t get it wrong. Maths is perhaps the subject where practise pays off most obviously. Pupils are explicitly encouraged and guided to revisit and practice areas that they have found difficult. They often choose to re-do assessment papers, looking to make significant improvements following feedback. 

A Level and Beyond

Pupils at Mercia School are in a good position to study maths at A Level. Maths continues to be the most popular A Level chosen in the country, and with good reason – it demonstrates a willingness to work hard, a dedication to precision and a commitment to improve analytical and quantitative skills. A Level Maths is not just for those wanting to study the subject at university – it opens doors in a huge range of academic and employment areas: from science to finance and economics; from engineering to architecture.

Mercia School will also offer Further Mathematics at A Level for those developing even more of a passion for the subject and aiming for the very top university places in maths, engineering, economics or the sciences.

Course Specifics

More information about the GCSE course we have chosen, alongside assessment materials pupils can attempt, can be found here: 

https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/edexcel-gcses/mathematics-2015.html

Science

  Year 7 Year 8 Year 9
Unit 1 The Scientific Method  Respiration and Photosynthesis Biology 1: Cell Biology
Unit 2 Organelles to Organisms Energy  Biology 2: Photosynthesis
Unit 3 Matter and Mixture Periodic Table and Reactions Chemistry 1: Atomic Structure and The Periodic Table 
Unit 4 Forces Electricity Chemistry 2: Structure and Bonding 
Unit 5 Reproduction and Genetics Waves Physics 1: Energy and The Particle Model 
Unit 6 Metals and Reactions Earth  and The Universe Physics 2: Electricity in Action 

GCSE Combined Science: Trilogy 

Exam Board: AQA GCSE Combined Science: Trilogy (8464)

Importance of Science

Human progress throughout history has largely rested on advances in science - from our knowledge of gravity to cutting-edge medicines, students of science have shaped our modern world. All of these advances can trace their origin back to individuals learning about science as pupils. That’s why it is in the interests of governments, companies and wider society to promote science as a subject at schools; it ensures the next wave of progress in all of the fields that affect our daily lives. A strong scientific understanding is imperative in order to understand the world in which we live.  

Structure of GCSEs

The Combined Science: Trilogy GCSE is the core, compulsory science offer for all pupils. The Trilogy set of GCSEs gives pupils 2 GCSEs in science, however all three disciplines of Biology, Chemistry and Physics are taught and examined. Pupils study each science discipline with a specialist teacher and sit two GCSE papers per discipline. There are 21 required practical activities which are also assessed in the examinations with questions relating to these practicals accounting for 15% of marks.

How Pupils are Prepared for GCSE

All Mercia pupils have a depth and breadth of secure scientific knowledge. At Mercia, we have taught the core foundational knowledge, as well as the rich knowledge around the edges of the disciplines. This forms the springboard to further study, opening the doors for a bright future at A Level and beyond. Pupils have mastered many of the required practical activities. They will continue to apply their strong knowledge to different situations around these practicals in order to deepen their understanding of practical technique.

A Level and Beyond

We believe that Mercia pupils have the strongest possible foundations to be highly successful in the sciences at A Level. Our teachers’ extensive and varied scientific experience has been utilised to carefully craft a science curriculum that seamlessly prepares pupils as scientists from day one. Pupils with science qualifications are in demand across all employment sectors. Science is a prerequisite for a career in medical professions, the pharmaceutical industry, technology and engineering sectors and many more.

Course Specifics

More information about the GCSE course we have chosen, alongside assessment materials pupils can attempt, can be found here: 

https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science/gcse/combined-science-trilogy-8464

GCSE Separate Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics)

Exam Board: AQA GCSE Separate Sciences: Biology (8461), Chemistry (8462), Physics (8463)

What is Separate Sciences?

Separate Sciences (also known as ‘Triple Science’) is an option choice available to all pupils with a love of science. This enables pupils to gain 3 GCSEs; in Biology, Chemistry and Physics. By choosing the Separate Science route, pupils are prepared for the transition into A Levels in Biology, Chemistry or Physics. 

Topics covered in Separate Science

There are some fascinating topics included in the GCSEs for Biology, Chemistry and Physics. In Biology, pupils study topics including the brain, eye and kidneys with increased opportunities for dissection, monoclonal antibodies and their medicinal use, plant diseases, cloning, genetics, ecology and farming.

In Chemistry, pupils learn about nanoparticles, polymerisation, amino acids, DNA, analytical Chemistry and industrial methods and much more. This is an invaluable foundation for Chemistry and a career in the medical, pharmaceutical or engineering professions.

In Physics, pupils study the additional topics of radioactive isotopes, nuclear fusion and fission, mechanics, waves, lenses, sound technology and the endlessly fascinating space Physics! 

Increased Practical Content

Pupils carry out 28 required practicals. These are assessed in the examinations with questions relating to these practicals accounting for 15% of marks.

Course Specifics

More information about the GCSE course we have chosen, alongside assessment materials pupils can attempt, can be found here: 

GCSE Biology: https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science/gcse/biology-8461

GCSE Chemistry: https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science/gcse/chemistry-8462

GCSE Physics: https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science/gcse/physics-8463

French

  Year 7

Year 8

(Rennes and Bordeaux)

Year 8 

(Marseille)

Year 9
Unit 1 Present Tense (-er, irregular) All About Me 

Conditional tense

Si j’étais maire …
Present tense (-er, irregular) All About Me

Transactional speech

Planning a trip to Réunion
Unit 2 Present Tense (-er, -ir and -re, irregular) All About Me

Conditional tense

Si je gagnais à la loterie
Present tense (-er, -ir and –re, irregular) All About Me

Transactional speech

Staying in Paris

Work experience
Unit 3

Imperfect Tense

All About Me

Present tense reflexive verbs

School, all about me
Imperfect tense
All About Me

Conditional/Conditional Perfect

Work
Unit 4

Imperfect tense

Jeanne d’Arc, Guillaume le Conquérant, Le Trésor de Tikoulou, l’environnement

The near future tense

School, holidays

Conditional tense

Si j’étais maire

Si je gagnais à la loterie

Simple future tense

Pour sauver la planète
Unit 5

Conditional tense

Si j’étais maire …

Perfect tense (avoir)

La revolution francaise, Napoléon Bonaparte

Present tense reflexive verbs

School, All About Me

Narrative speech/passive voice

Deuxième guerre mondiale

Charles de Gaulle
Unit 6

Conditional tense

Si je gagnais à la loterie

Perfect tense (avoir and être)

All about me, Local area

The near future tense

The near future tense

School, holidays

Mixing tenses

School

Aspirations

GCSE French

Exam Board: Edexcel GCSE French (1FR0)

In the first three years of study at Mercia School, pupils have learned about the cultural and historical events that make France and the French language so important and vibrant. They have learned about Réunion - an island in the Indian Ocean, which is actually part of France. They have studied Joan of Arc, the speeches of Charles de Gaulle and literature from Mauritius. As well as this, they have developed a superb knowledge of the grammar that binds the French language together.

The final two years of their French studies provides an opportunity for pupils to use their grammatical and cultural understanding to express a range of nuanced opinions on a range of topics. They develop their skills in the four examined areas of study: reading; writing; listening and speaking.

The programme of study in GCSE French is split broadly into five central themes:

Identity and culture (who am I, spare time, celebrations); Local area, holiday and travel (my area, dream holidays, food and weather); School (my school; school rules; future plans); Future aspirations, study and work (career choices, hopes and dreams; the importance of languages; applying for jobs); International and global dimension (the planet; the environment; volunteering).

Knowledge in French

Pupils already have a superb foundation of grammatical knowledge in French. This is developed over the course of GCSE study. They need to use this knowledge in new contexts as they are exposed to new vocabulary. They develop knowledge of a range of basic and higher-level vocabulary that use with their knowledge of grammar such as tenses and mood. In Key Stage 4, pupils are taught knowledge of:

  • Grammar – tenses; pronouns; subjunctive mood
  • Vocabulary – in line with the themes in the course of study
  • Listening and reading skills- how to pick out key concepts in extended sequences of speech
  • Speaking in French – register; asking and answering questions; idiomatic phrases

How Pupils are Prepared for GCSE

Pupils in French at Mercia School have prepared well for success at GCSE. Our focus on grammatical fluency has meant that pupils are able to use various grammatical structures in several contexts, both spontaneously and with meticulous planning. Their grammatical knowledge thus far means that the pupils have already mastered the majority of high-level grammatical structures expected from GCSE pupils. We always use proper grammatical terminology at Mercia School and stress the importance of grammar to give pupils the tools to express themselves properly in written and spoken French. Our assessments have helped pupils become adept at writing extended pieces on a range of topics and they have had chance to practice speaking scenarios, like Role Play, which will appear in their GCSE exam. By creating our own listening, reading and translation activities, we have exposed pupils to much more high-level vocabulary and structures than their peers in other schools by this time. Our approach to quizzing and retrieval has meant that the fundamental, non-negotiable, every lesson vocabulary has been embedded well in our pupils and they are able to use this readily and with verve.

A Level and Beyond

We believe that our approach to French at Mercia School, and our desire to make our pupils into great linguists will put them in a strong position for A Level study. Languages are always changing and as such, the study of a language facilitates a huge breadth of other subjects at A Level and university. Research shows that a qualification in a foreign language can increase your salary by up to 20%.

Several Russell Group universities have said that they look favourably on applicants with an A Level in a language when comparing with similar pupils without any language qualifications. Given the academic nature of the subject, French study will be a benefit to a large number of other subjects, dealing as it does with fluency, analysis and communication.

Course Specifics

More information about the GCSE course we have chosen, alongside assessment materials pupils can attempt, can be found here: 

https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/edexcel-gcses/french-2016.html

History 

  Year 7 Year 8 Year 9
Unit 1 Ancient Rome The English Reformation First World War 
Unit 2 Anglo-Saxon England Crown and Parliament  World between Wars: USSR and USA
Unit 3 Norman England Empire, Slavery and Abolition World between Wars: Nazi Germany 
Unit 4 Islamic and Christian Worlds Age of Revolutions Second World War and Holocaust
Unit 5 Medieval Kingship Industry and Reform Civil Rights in the USA
Unit 6 Reformation and Discovery The Victorian Empire  Post-War Britain 

GCSE History

Exam Board: AQA GCSE History (8145)

Pupils taking GCSE History at Mercia School gain an advanced understanding of British and international history, and build upon the strong foundational knowledge they acquired in Years 7, 8 and 9. The course is divided into four elements, comprising two units which focus on British history, and two which focus on the wider world. The broad coverage of wide-ranging time periods and places makes the course fascinating and varied: pupils study all time periods from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century, and while they will certainly deepen their understanding of Britain’s past, they also explore diverse places and regions from Berlin to Budapest; from Cuba to Korea.

Throughout the course, pupils analyse authentic historical sources, including photographs, cartoons, video footage, diaries, and newspaper reports, and interrogate and evaluate the scholarship of leading historians. They also write extended answers to challenging but fascinating questions about historical causation, change and continuity, and the similarities and differences between different time periods. 

History is a highly valued subject that opens doors to a wide range of pathways, both for further academic study at A Level and university, and for future employment. Pupils studying GCSE History at Mercia develop skills of communication, critical analysis, and evaluation which are essential for diverse fields of study and work. Crucially, they build a treasure trove of memorable knowledge and stories that illuminates their study of other academic disciplines.

Knowledge in History

The History GCSE strikes a fantastic balance between familiar content that builds on periods that Mercia pupils have already studied, and new content that will enthuse and inspire our historians.

GCSE historians at Mercia School study the following components:

  • Germany, 1890-1945. In this period study, pupils learn about the development of Germany during a turbulent half century of change which saw the development and collapse of democracy, and the rise and fall of a Nazi dictatorship.
  • Conflict and tension between East and West, 1945-1972. This wider world depth study covers the causes and events of the Cold War. It explores the rivalry and conflict between the USA and the USSR in locations including Berlin, Hungary, Cuba and Vietnam.
  • Power and the people, c.1170 to present day. This British thematic study focuses on the changing relationship between people and the state since the Middle Ages. Pupils explore the roles played by war, religion, the economy, ideas, and important individuals in challenging authority and enhancing people’s liberties and rights.
  • Elizabethan England, c.1568-1603. In this British depth study, pupils gain an advanced understanding of the major events of Elizabeth I’s reign, and explore the changing experiences of ordinary people during the Elizabethan ‘Golden Age’. 

How Pupils are Prepared for GCSE

The Key Stage 3 History curriculum at Mercia School has been carefully designed to prepare our pupils for the challenges of GCSE study. Our GCSE historians find reassurance in recognising many familiar characters and stories from history, from Henry VIII to Hitler; from the Spanish Armada to the Suffragettes. Our prior curriculum has also been designed to give pupils the necessary foundational knowledge for GCSE content that they have not previously studied. In short, our pupils’ rich knowledge base allows them to adapt to the GCSE course with confidence.

Similarly, our lessons and prior assessments have equipped Mercia historians with the disciplinary skills necessary for GCSE success. These skills include extended writing, analysis of authentic historical sources, and engagement with historical scholarship and interpretations. Crucially, our knowledge-rich approach means that pupils already feel confident in studying, recalling, independently revising and applying large bodies of historical knowledge. 

A Level and Beyond

We hope that many pupils who take GCSE History will go on to study History at A Level, or even at university. Success in GCSE History will certainly prepare pupils for the additional demands of A Level study, which requires more advanced proficiency in writing extended essays, analysing authentic source material, and engaging with the work of professional historians.

History qualifications are highly valued by universities and employers because they develop a wide range of desirable skills. These include the ability to assess large bodies of evidence, and to evaluate conflicting interpretations – crucial in a digital age overflowing with information and misinformation – as well as excellent skills in written communication and constructing persuasive arguments. Mercia pupils, who go on to study History at university, will find it a versatile degree that opens doors to future pathways in diverse fields, including law, journalism, politics, business, education and academia.

Course Specifics

More information about the GCSE course we have chosen, alongside assessment materials pupils can attempt, can be found here: 

https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/history/gcse/history-8145

Geography 

  Year 7 Year 8 Year 9
Unit 1 Continents and Oceans Tectonics Climate Change
Unit 2 Settlement  Global Inequality Population Management
Unit 3 Weather and Climate Rivers UK Economy 
Unit 4  World Trade  Population Environments 
Unit 5 Glaciers  Coasts Resources
Unit 6 Ecology  Cities  Sustainability

GCSE Geography

Exam Board: OCR Geography Specification (J384)

Geography is the academic subject of the kinder and better future to come. The subject explores issues combining the understanding of our physical world and the human-made world. As such, the geography course at GCSE gives pupils opportunity to use their knowledge from a range of subjects. For example, science and mathematics are linked to different engineering solutions that can be chosen to improve places; and geographers use literacy and analytical expertise to express their ideas. As a result, Mercia’s young geographers will be the next important decision makers for Planet Earth’s future.

Our GCSE course is based on enquiries into eight topics, all related to contemporary debates and fieldwork opportunities. Examples include choosing the most appropriate management strategies for UK coastlines prone to flooding and erosion; critiquing governments and businesses when studying reasons for global inequalities and climate change; evaluating the impact of urbanisation and economic growth on our quality of life and our ecosystems; predicting future conflicts based on food and water security; as well as recognising how earthquakes and volcanoes can both create and destroy our environments.

Through decision making exercises, pupils learn which sources of information and methods of data representation are most appropriate in specific situations. Through using this detail, pupils are challenged to compare and contrast different opinions about places. Pupils at Mercia also recognise that local and global issues are interconnected and interdependent. GCSE Geography is their next opportunity to explore how ‘everything is connected to everything else’.

An enthusiasm for fieldwork is crucial to success at GCSE. Mercia pupils must be committed to participate fully in our fieldwork opportunities so that they can apply ideas for how real-life enquiries can be conducted. In physical geography, pupils work at coastal locations, to collect data exploring processes and features. In human geography, qualitative and quantitative research methods are used to ascertain the quality of life in urban areas. This also includes the interpretation of computer based geographic information systems.  

Knowledge in Geography

Our pupils have an exceptional range of geographical knowledge. In Key Stage 3, studies have been linked to major geographical concepts, which is important for accessing the GCSE course. These include:

  • Physical Processes: natural systems creating our environment
  • Interdependence: the flows and interconnectedness of life on Earth. Due to globalisation, everything is connected to everything else
  • Diversity: including socio-cultural backgrounds shaping opinions and decisions
  • Sustainability: the need to meet the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs
  • Place: spatial locations with attributed meaning

How Pupils are Prepared for GCSE

Due to their hard work in Key Stage 3, our pupils already possess excellent knowledge of key words in all of the 8 topics explored at GCSE. They have also developed a strong understanding of the key physical and human processes shaping our Earth today. Mercia’s approach to regular quizzing is ensuring that our pupils have a strong long term memory for this terminology. Geography assessments at GCSE continue to place a high value on pupil confidence in these areas of strength from Key Stage 3.

Pupils have also encountered a number of place based examples related to GCSE questions. Examples include mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the impact of natural disasters in Haiti. This means that our pupils are ready to investigate case study examples in greater depth at GCSE.

A Level and Beyond

Geography has a long-established reputation as a hugely popular and highly regarded academic subject. At A Level, pupils will continue to engage in contemporary issues relating to the state of the Earth, and draw upon the work of prominent thinkers in the field. A Level pupils also have the opportunity to conduct their own chosen fieldwork enquiry, allowing them to explore specific questions important to their interests. Previous enquires have ranged from investigating how ethnic identities shape a sense of place; to exploring potential carbon sinks to mitigate against climate change.

Course Specifics

More information about the GCSE course we have chosen, alongside assessment materials pupils can attempt, can be found here: 

https://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/gcse/geography-b-geography-for-enquiring-minds-j384-from-2016/

Art and Design 

  Year 7 Year 8 Year 9
Unit 1&2 Formal Elements Futurism and Printmaking Architectural Drawing
Unit 3&4 Aerial Perspectives and Landscapes Cardboard Sculptures Mexican Folk Art and Ceramics
Unit 5&6  Portraiture Textural Painting  Human Figure

GCSE Art, Craft and Design

Exam Board: AQA GCSE in Art and Design (8201)

GCSE Art allows pupils to thoroughly explore their own interests and ideas. During the qualification, they study a range of topics/themes, developing and refining their own artwork through research, experimentation and workshops. Pupils are able to work in and experiment with drawing, painting, mixed-media, sculpture, printmaking and ceramics.

The duration of the course is 2 years and is 100% practical. For component 1, pupils create a portfolio of work based on a sustained project, for example, portraiture. A pupil’s work develops over time in response to investigations around the subject area and the materials/mediums they experiment with. The creation of a final piece illustrates how pupils realise their intentions through investigations. For component 2, pupils independently choose a starting point/theme from the exam board’s paper. They use knowledge and techniques to produce a creative response within a 10-hour supervised time limit. 

At Mercia, all pupils have an exceptional ability in evaluating their own work, which is beneficial to the reflective element of the GCSE. Art is a valuable asset, as employers look for people who have the ability to think creatively and critically. The course allows pupils to be self-expressive and explore their own passions within art. Excellent artists are able to see the world in different ways, they use original thought and vision to create unique pieces. This process is highly stimulating, develops creativity and builds confidence.

Knowledge in Art

Mercia pupils already have specialist knowledge, having studied practical techniques, the work of related artists, movements, art styles and history. Pupils are able to explain artwork in detail, referring to the artist’s choice of media, and drawing on knowledge about key characteristics and history of relevant art movements.

Knowledge of the Formal Elements underpins all work produced at Key Stage 3. At GCSE, pupils use the Formal Elements confidently, and experiment and explore them in order to produce visually strong quality pieces of work. Mercia pupils understand composition, and this helps pupils understand why artists use composition to strengthen their artwork.

How pupils are prepared for GCSE

Mercia pupils work extremely hard during their art lessons. All pupils have created final pieces of work in response to a project (e.g. printmaking and architectural drawings), and have taken time and effort with the presentation of their work in sketchbooks. All of the knowledge and techniques covered throughout Key Stage 3 are built upon in GCSE Art.

Drawing is a fundamental part of GCSE Art. During Key Stage 3, pupils have developed a variety of drawing skills. This includes three-dimensional drawing and perspective drawing. Previous lessons have focused on exploring a wide range of techniques, preparing pupils for the next phase of learning.

A Level and Beyond

GCSE Art gives pupils the absolute confidence to aspire for a career in any art-related field. The knowledge and skills achieved through the course provides a substantial platform for the progression of studying A Level Art or a further educational pathway. The creative arts industries are a very popular career choice and are a huge part of the economy. If pupils wish to study Art at university, they will be required to study it at A Level or equivalent. Some universities may wish for pupils to have a foundation diploma in Art and Design. Studying Art can lead to powerful careers in architecture, design, art history and teaching.

Course Specifics

More information about the GCSE course we have chosen, alongside assessment materials pupils can attempt, can be found here: 

https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/art-and-design/gcse/art-and-design-8201-8206

Music 

  Year 7 Year 8 Year 9
Unit 1 Musical Elements Celtic Music Minimalism 
Unit 2 Notation  Programme Music Programme Music
Unit 3 Fanfare and Instruments Gamelan and Indian Music Film Music
Unit 4 Music and Mood African Music Popular Music
Unit 5  Programme Music Blues Music Celtic Music
Unit 6 Musical Theatre Blues and Jazz Blues and Jazz

GCSE Music

Exam board: Edexcel Music (1MU0)

GCSE Music provides pupils with the opportunity to advance their knowledge and understanding of the breadth of the subject, while enabling them to experience what it is to be a performer and composer. As such, it is perfect for those pupils who have a keen interest in creating and listening to different styles of music and who wish to broaden their experience and musical understanding.

When studying specific set works, pupils gain an insight into the background of the composition and composer. Pupils also build on their understanding of the musical elements and specific compositional devices. Through listening and evaluation of these significant works in the musical canon, pupils gain the knowledge required to apply this to other examples and excel in the course.

In composition, this knowledge of key pieces and devices is then applied to their own ideas, responding to a brief creatively as composers do, researching and refining creative ideas in a final project. They are able to write music in any style, playing to their strengths as musicians, while also developing a detailed understanding of genres they love.

The performance aspect of the course allows pupils to develop their technical ability on their chosen instrument, understanding what it is to develop a performance both as a soloist and as part of an ensemble. Over the two-year course, pupils gain experience of presenting themselves in a variety of contexts, building confidence in this key life skill. Those pupils who choose GCSE Music are expected to attend ensemble groups in the department such as bands, choirs and other groups, as well as contribute to showcases and shows. These groups and events are of great benefit to their continued development of musicians, as well as deepening their understanding of the industry itself.

Knowledge and Practical Techniques in Music

Musicians need a firm understanding of the musical elements and their knowledge from Key Stage 3 is built on further during their studies in Key Stage 4 in the following areas:

  • Performance – both as a soloist and as part of an ensemble
  • Composition – structuring original ideas and developing these using techniques
  • Appraisal – analysis and evaluation of key features and devices and relating these to context and purpose
  • Listening – identifying key features aurallY

How Pupils are Prepared for GCSE

Throughout the units in Key Stage 3, pupils have developed a strong understanding of the musical elements, and are familiar with studying specific pieces and composers, analysing key features and devices, building a foundation of musical vocabulary and knowledge in their evaluations. Our approach to quizzing and testing has ensured that pupils have retained vital terminology. Assessments have already prepared pupils for both the appraisal and coursework aspect of the GCSE.  Mercia pupils have been given a range of performance opportunities throughout Key Stage 3, as well as during their academic music lessons. In composition, pupils have already successfully used a number of key compositional devices in their own pieces, developing their understanding of the compositional process. They know and appreciate the importance of structure, development of ideas and the use of musical elements, all factors that are crucial to success at GCSE.

A Level and Beyond

If Mercia pupils wish to take their study of Music further, the academic and disciplinary knowledge developed in this qualification will provide a strong foundation for A Level. Music is an academically rigorous subject, while also allowing pupils to develop their creative and technical ability on their chosen instrument(s) and in compositions. This combination of creative and academic study is recognised by universities and provides a good step towards degrees in a wide range of subject areas including sciences, mathematics, languages, humanities and the arts.

Course Specifics

More information about the GCSE course we have chosen, alongside assessment materials pupils can attempt, can be found here: 

https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/edexcel-gcses/music-2016.html

Physical Education

*Where there are 2 options, boys' PE is emboldened, girls' PE is not. 

    Year 7 Year 8 Year 9
HT 1 Sport 1

Basketball 

Basketball 

Basketball/Netball 

  Sport 2 Football  Football  Football 
  Sport 3 Hockey  Hockey  Hockey
  Sport 4 Rugby/Netball  Rugby/Netball Rugby 
HT 2 Sport 5 Table Tennis Table Tennis  Table Tennis 
  Sport 6 Rounders Rounders Volleyball 
  Sport 7 Cricket Cricket  Rounders
  Sport 8  Dance Dance Cricket/Dance 
HT 3 Sport 9 Gymnastics Gymnastics Gymnastics
  Sport 10 Trampoline  Trampoline  Trampoline 
  Sport 11 Athletics Athletics Athletics
  Sport 12 Cross - Country Fitness Components  Fitness Components

BTEC Award in Sport

Exam Board (2023 Leavers): Pearson BTEC Award Sport, Activity and Fitness

https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/btec-tech-awards/sport-activity-and-fitness.html

Exam Board (2024 Leavers onwards): Pearson BTEC Tech Award Sport 

https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/btec-tech-awards/sport-2022.html

The BTEC qualification in Sport provides an insight into the sport sector. The course incorporates key aspects of the industry, such as different types and providers of sport and physical activity, equipment and technology available, anatomy and physiology, fitness testing and training for sport and exercise, practical sports performance, analysis and sports leadership. The vocational nature of this course allows pupils to apply their knowledge through the experience of real-life work situations.

Knowledge in Physical Education and Sport

Pupils at Mercia School already understand the importance of fitness as a performer in a variety of sports as well as the benefits of exercise for physical, social, and mental health and wellbeing. Physical activity has been the main priority throughout Key Stage 3, with pupils focusing on practical performance. In comparison, this course has a much greater emphasis on theoretical knowledge. Pupils complete three components:

  • Preparing participants to take part in sport and physical activity
  • Taking part and improving other participants sporting performance
  • Developing fitness to improve other participants performance in sport and physical activity

A Level/BTEC Level 3 and Beyond

If Mercia pupils are interested in taking their study of sport further, the subject specific knowledge and skills developed in this qualification will provide a strong foundation for academic or vocational study at Level 3.

Sport is an increasingly popular career sector, with demand for higher level expertise in performance analysis, business management, and community engagement, as well as hands-on participation. Universities and colleges offer several qualifications in sport including; sports administration and governance, coaching and physiotherapy, and sport and exercise science.

Religious Education 

  Year 7 Year 8 Year 9
Unit 1 Judaism - History and Belief Buddhism - History and Belief  Christianity - History and Belief 
Unit 2 Judaism in the Modern World  Buddhism in the Modern World  Christianity in the Modern World 
Unit 3 Christianity: The Old Testament (Genesis) Christianity: The Old Testament (Exodus)  The Philosophy of Religion Part 1
Unit 4 Christianity: The New Testament  Christianity: The New Testament (The death of Jesus Christ) The Philosophy of Religion Part 2
Unit 5 Islam - History and Belief  Hinduism - History and Belief Sikhism 
Unit 6 Islam in the Modern World  Hinduism in the Modern World  Ethics

GCSE Religious Studies

Exam Board: AQA GCSE Religious Studies A (8062)

The importance of Religious Studies (RS) cannot be understated. Mercia’s high-quality provision allows pupils to develop knowledge of world religions and to make sense of the cultures in the world around them. The course of study provokes challenging questions about meaning and purpose in life, beliefs about God, ultimate reality, issues of right and wrong, and what it means to be human.

GCSE RS equips pupils with knowledge and understanding of a range of religions and world views, enabling them to develop their ideas, values and identity. Pupils learn about the part that religion has to play in some of the key social and moral issues of the present day. This is rooted in the study of religious scripture, looking at the Old and New Testaments and the Qur’an. Excitingly, this provides pupils with the knowledge that they need to engage in theological discussion, and to move on to discuss the historical dimensions of religion in both the past and present.

The course spans the two years allocated and is taught in a logical, coherent way. This allows pupils to develop and refine a strong understanding of Islam, Christianity and each religion’s attitude to a wide range of social issues. The chosen course feels very familiar to pupils, given their exposure to both Abrahamic faiths and other moral/ethical questions, notably during Year 9. GCSE RS includes the following areas of study:

Year 10: Study of Religions

· Christianity: Beliefs and Teachings - pupils study Christian beliefs on the nature of God and key theological teachings including beliefs about creation, life after death, salvation and the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

· Christianity: Worship and Practices - pupils explore how Christians put their beliefs into practice through worship and prayer. The growth of the church, Christian mission and evangelism will also be studied.

· Islam: Beliefs and Teachings - pupils study Islamic beliefs on the nature of God and key theological teachings including beliefs about life after death, angels, prophethood, the imamate and the Sunni/Shi’a divide.

· Islam: Worship and Practices - pupils explore how Muslims put their beliefs into practice through the Five Pillars of Islam. Pupils also examine beliefs about jihad and significant festivals.

Year 11: Thematic Studies

· Relationships and Families - pupils consider the nature and purpose of the family in the 21st century, including religious attitudes towards divorce and remarriage.

· Religion and Life - pupils examine the origins and value of the universe, the use and abuse of the environment including animal rights and attitudes towards issues of life and death, including abortion and euthanasia.

· Religion, Crime and Punishment - pupils explore the causes of crime and the aims of punishment within the context of the British legal system. Pupils also discuss different views on the debate around the death penalty and the effectiveness of prison as a form of punishment.

· Religion, Human Rights and Social Justice - pupils consider the fair treatment of people including issues of religious freedom, prejudice, discrimination, the status and role of women, wealth and exploitation of the poor.

Knowledge in Religious Studies

During the GCSE, pupils are challenged to deepen their already impressive knowledge of Islam and Christianity. If pupils understand the explicit teachings of each religion, they achieve well.  Pupils are required to study religious teachings and relate them clearly to a wide range of philosophical, ethical and social issues. The stronger their knowledge of Islam and Christianity, the better. We have built this throughout Key Stage 3, especially in Year 9. 

How Pupils are Prepared for GCSE

Pupils have had an intellectually rigorous, chronologically designed RS curriculum during Key Stage 3. By the time they begin their GCSE course, pupils have a strong understanding of world religion.

By building on their already excellent knowledge, pupils understand the history, teaching and role in modern society of several religions. This means pupils have huge potential to succeed and achieve well in GCSE RS. Pupils have been challenged since they arrived at Mercia to write effectively, most notably in English and History. The skills learnt in these subjects are directly transferrable to the demands of the RS course. We are exceedingly confident that pupils have been well-prepared for the rigour and demands of GCSE RS.

A Level and Beyond

A Level RS is a popular choice nationally. It is a strong option that combines well with most A Level options, perhaps most notably History, Geography and English. Given that the A Level specification insists upon a deep knowledge of a world religion, and philosophy and ethics, RS would be a useful A Level in reading degrees in History, English, Law or Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE). RS is a versatile subject and useful for entry into many careers, including, but not limited to: medicine, law, law enforcement, politics, marketing, and education. 

Course Specifics

More information about the GCSE course we have chosen, alongside assessment materials pupils can attempt, can be found here: 

https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/religious-studies/gcse/religious-studies-a-8062

Drama 

  Year 7  Year 8 Year 9
Unit 1 Greek Theatre Contemporary Theatre Contemporary Theatre
Unit 2 Contemporary Theatre An Inspector Calls The Crucible
Unit 3 Twelfth Night Death of a Salesman A Midsummer Night's Dream

GCSE Drama

Exam Board: Eduqas GCSE Drama (C690QS)

Using theatre as a tool to express thoughts and opinions, GCSE Drama allows pupils to use the excellent knowledge gained across all areas of the school, not only to become accomplished dramatists, but also confident, articulate individuals who will excel in performance.

The world around us is forever evolving and changing. Our response to that can be seen through the mediums of the creative arts such as; theatre, film, literature, music, art and countless more. As Brecht noted, “Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape the world.” The benefits of studying GCSE Drama and theatre are significant. Using theatre as a tool to express thoughts and opinions, pupils not only become accomplished dramatists, but also confident, articulate individuals who will be ready to flourish in modern society.  

Analysis and evaluation are at the heart of this GCSE course. Pupils will not just study performing techniques. By the end of the course, they have excellent understanding and appreciation of theatre as a whole and are able to comment on how and why they were influenced by it. GCSE dramatists will become directors, designers and performers in their own right. Due to the academic rigour of our school, Mercia pupils are well prepared to deliver mature and creative responses to theatre.

Practising live performances is essential to success in the GCSE course. As such, the expectation is that pupils taking GCSE Drama must play key roles in any school productions or showcases. Pupils are expected to be involved as either performers, assistant directors, lighting, costume, and sound design and stage management.  Participating in these events is an excellent opportunity for pupils to advance their knowledge of theatre and show their commitment to the subject.

Knowledge and Performance Techniques in Drama

Our pupils already have a firm foundation of knowledge and key dramatic terminology. During this course, their knowledge and understanding continues to grow at speed. They are taught knowledge of:

  • Theatre Practitioners - Stanislavski, Brecht, Berkoff and Artaud
  • Theatre Makers and their specific techniques – performer’s movement and vocal techniques, directors and rehearsal techniques, production design such as costume, lighting, set and sound
  • Analysis - examining performance techniques, dramatic conventions and styles of theatre in order to interpret it
  • Evaluation - making judgement on their own and others use of performance or design techniques in terms of finding ways to better improve their work and of professional theatre to question and respond in a creative way

How Pupils are Prepared for GCSE

During the GCSE course, our pupils harness the knowledge and performance techniques they have studied and explored during Key Stage 3. Pupils have a firm understanding of essential performing techniques and dramatic conventions. Pupils have a strong understanding of dramatic terminology and vocabulary, they apply this successfully in the written coursework and exam. In terms of performance techniques and skills, our pupils are accustomed to performing in front of an audience and are becoming confident performers. Our assessments have already touched upon the level of commitment needed by pupils to prepare appropriately for a performance. This level of dedication helps pupils be successful at GCSE level and beyond.

A Level and Beyond

After GCSE Drama, pupils would look to A Level Theatre Studies to continue their study. The A Level is seen positively by many universities, as it strongly complements other subjects such as English and History. The academic and creative nature of the A Level enables pupils to practically explore new content, as well as develop their existing knowledge base. Pupils who have an A Level in Theatre Studies are most likely to complete degrees in theatre and film, performing arts, media and journalism and theatre/design.  

Course Specifics

More information about the GCSE course we have chosen, alongside assessment materials pupils can attempt, can be found here: 

https://www.eduqas.co.uk/qualifications/drama-gcse/#tab_overview