St James School

KS3 Curriculum


English is a subject where we aim to give students the opportunity to explore and discuss ideas and to create their own interpretations of texts that we study. We aim to do this both inside the classroom and through enrichment activities.


In year 7 English students will cover a wide range of topics to help them build essential skills for progression to GCSE and beyond. The programme of study includes:

  • Cultural Stories: students take part in an introductory scheme of work based around stories from other cultures.

We will explore narrative forms, how texts can be transformed from one type of text to another and how to write our own stories.

  • An Introduction to Shakespeare: students are introduced to Shakespeare’s life and times. We explore his theatre, his most famous plays and look in depth at A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  • Time Travel: students explore famous historical places and people; they write about meeting Henry VIII; read about life in Victorian London and might even get a short visit to the Year 3000!
  • Nature Poetry: students will learn key poetry analysis skills, alongside getting to write their own nature poem.
  • A class novel, for example, ‘Private Peaceful’, ‘Millions’, ‘Skellig’ or ‘Whispers in the Graveyard’. We will read and explore key ideas and characters within the book though discussion, drama and essay writing.

In addition, students will take part in a reading challenge program throughout the year.


English is an increasingly demanding subject and from Year 7 we place real emphasis on extended writing – both in students’ own imaginative pieces and in their analysis of other texts. We ask students to become increasingly analytical when approaching a text; they no longer just explore what is happening, but also explore authors’ perspectives and language techniques. Students are encouraged to become increasingly independent in their writing as we ask them to generate ideas and plan independently. We also emphasise the ‘basics’ like paragraphing, sentence construction and punctuation throughout our teaching to ensure students keep developing these core Literacy skills. Alongside this, we still assess speaking and listening; an essential skill in English.


In English assessment happens in many ways. Books are marked regularly, with informal comments and target setting taking place. We also encourage students to peer and self-assess their own work. On a more formal basis, students are assessed against age related expectations in both reading and writing during every scheme of work. Given the move towards terminal examinations, assessments are often conducted in controlled conditions in class, and students will be given an exam at the end of Year 7. Spoken communication will be assessed two or three times over the year.


In Year 7, students are taught in ability groupings. These groups are based on KS2 scores and teacher assessments. We review groups regularly to ensure that students are in the best group, looking at recent assessment data and group dynamics. For those students who need some of the basics in Literacy reinforced, we do offer more hours of English as part of the Literacy fast track group.


Within the English department students are offered multiple opportunities out of the classroom. The department regularly publicises writing competitions for students to take advantage of and encourages students to attend Book Group, to shadow the Carnegie Book Awards, to take part in author visits, the Exeter wide Exetreme Imagination festival and to visit the theatre. Over the past two years we have also offered a trip to Harry Potter World and trips to the Northcott and Bikeshed theatres in Exeter.

Parental support

Outside of the classroom you can also take an interest in what your child reads. Reading widely, both fiction and nonfiction, is essential to develop wider skills in English. If you can discuss your child’s latest book, or even hear them read aloud, it will really improve their understanding and reading ability as well as help them to gain points in the St James

Reading Challenge programme. We also appreciate your support in encouraging students to take an interest in the news and important cultural issues; this helps students to formulate opinion and develop a deeper understanding of the world, an essential skill for text analysis and extended writing. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact


In years 7 & 8, students learn about the diversity of the world around them, combining content and knowledge across the three science disciplines: Biology, Chemistry and Physics. We deliver this through exciting and relevant lessons where students study a varied curriculum, such as chemical reactions, cells & digestion, energy and waves. Students are given opportunities to develop their scientific skills, investigating practically as well as planning, analysing and evaluating.


Students complete a wide range of assessment activities in every lesson, which may include structured practicals, analysis of experiments, discussion activities and tests. Students are regularly given opportunities to work individually and in groups, which means we utilise self, peer and teacher assessment. More formal assessment takes place every half term, where all students complete a skills activity and an end of unit test. This provides us with a detailed picture of how well your child is doing in Science. In Science we encourage students to reflect on their achievements regularly, to know exactly how to achieve a level that reflects their ability and to also offer clear strategies to help them improve.

Independent study

Independent study will usually take the form of an extended learning project to complete over a half term. Projects have previously included tasks such as boat making, making soundproof boxes and growing plants. The independent study tasks have been designed to engage all types of learners, allowing students to manage their time well and spend time out of lessons completing meaningful science work. Students will also be expected to develop revision techniques and strategies at home in preparation for their end of topic tests and may also be asked to complete skills assessments out of lesson too.


During the academic year, students have the opportunity to visit many science attractions, including Paignton Zoo, the Festival of Chemistry, and the STEM Project day at Exeter University. We encourage keen scientists to get involved in other department clubs and activities, which will be made available through the year, including British Science Week.



In year 7 students at St James will master the core numeracy skills covered at primary school and develop them further through application in algebra, shape and statistics. Lesson content has been developed with Sparx and will be delivered using cutting edge technology. For more information on this technology, please visit


Students will be taught resilience when solving multi layer mathematical problems. They will learn to apply their mathematical skills in a cross-curricular and real life context.


Students will be assessed by a formal test within six assessment windows throughout the year, the result of which will be recorded on the school’s reporting system. They will also sit a ‘pre-test’ at the start of each of the examination cycles so that progress can be carefully monitored and intervention can be offered where necessary. Students will also have an end of year exam which will be used for setting in the next year. The mathematics department use a variety of additional formative assessment methods to monitor student progress including the ongoing performance data collected each lesson through the use of iPad. This data will inform bespoke independent study tasks tailored to each individual students’ needs. Compulsory maths independent study is set every week and it’s completion is absolutely vital to ensure the high levels of student progress we expect at St James. We also offer ‘optional’ and ‘target’ independent study packages to further support student progress . This is also an opportunity for students to earn merits and XP points which ensures they are rewarded for their hard-work.

Parental support

Parents can support their child’s learning by taking an interest in their son/daughters mathematics lessons, by talking positively about the subject and by making sure independent study is completed. We do also ask that every student has their own calculator. A scientific calculator is most cost effective as it can be used right through to GCSE. These are available from the library shop.


Throughout their time at St James students will have the opportunity to participate in numerous STEM events. We also give our most enthusiastic mathematicians the opportunity to participate in the UK Maths Challenge and various mathematical workshops in collaboration with Exeter Maths School, Exeter University and Plymouth University.


A high-quality computing education equips students to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world. Computing has deep links with Mathematics, Science and Design Technology, and provides insights into both natural and artificial systems. The core of Computing is Computer Science, in which students are taught the principles of information and computation, how digital systems work, and how to put this knowledge to use through programming. Building on this knowledge and understanding students are equipped to use information technology to create programs, systems and a range of content. Computing also ensures that students become digitally literate – able to use and express themselves and develop their ideas through ICT – at a level suitable for the future workplace and as active participants in a digital world.


In year 7 students will cover the following topics: school systems and e-safety, learning to learn with computers, block based programming using Kodo, text based programming using MicroPython on the BBC Microbits and an introduction to graphics.


St James was a specialist school in Mathematics and Computing and its state of the art building benefits from four dedicated ICT suites, in addition to an Apple Mac suite. Specialist Status has helped enhance the learning in ICT across the curriculum by providing a wide range of high quality equipment (digital cameras, scanners to the latest multimedia PCs, mobile technology and interactive whiteboards) to help deliver the curriculum in ICT classrooms. The school uses Windows 10 as a platform for the Microsoft Office 2013 Suite including: Word, Excel, Access, Power Point and Publisher. In addition to greater use of Web 2.0 technology and other open source software, the school uses Adobe Creative Suite 5 including: Dreamweaver CS5, Photoshop CS5, Illustrator CS5, Fireworks CS5, Flash CS5, Indesign CS5 and Flash Catalyst. All students have access to their own email account, user area and filtered Internet access.


Students are assessed on their practical based work which is evidenced in a number of ways including digital publications and final pieces of work. Each topic will follow a clear assessment framework so students know what level they are at and what they need to do to improve. These assessments feed into the assessment cycles providing an ideal opportunity to discuss with your child the work being taught and to identify strengths and areas for development.

Independent study

Independent study tasks will consist of three projects during the year. Each project will include half a term of research/design and half a term of making. Each of these projects will help students increase awareness of how to use computers responsibly. Opportunities to complete ICT independent study using school computers are available before and after school, at break and at lunch.

Parental support

Outside of the classroom your child can watch BBC Click, either live or via the BBC iPlayer, to keep up-to-date with new technology and their developments. You can also encourage your child to complete activities from, www.codecademy.comand build projects via the Scratch website


We offer a range of enrichment opportunities with ICT rooms being available during lunchtimes and at the end of the day for an hour. In addition, there are a range of ICT clubs that include animation, photography, web creation and mobile app development.


Students will study one or two languages in year 7 depending on whether they are placed in the E or X band.

Students in the E band will study both French and Spanish and students in the X band will study French.

Learning – themes and skills

In both French & Spanish, year 7 students will study a variety of topics through a range of skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing but also translation and transcription. In year 7 various teaching methods are used and opportunities are created for students to develop their cultural understanding about France and Spain and French and Spanish speaking countries, as well as learning the language. There is a particular emphasis on speaking – communication and pronunciation. Lessons are based on promoting a fun learning environment where good effort and achievement is recognised and rewarded and it is not always about being right.

Students will learn a range of skills as mentioned above but they will also develop their understanding of literacy including use of resources and dictionaries and writing for a variety of purposes. Students will also develop their collaborative and team work skills alongside problem-solving techniques.


Assessment is based on a variety of skills mentioned above. Assessment formats may vary such as spoken presentations, vocabulary tests, listening tasks and reading or writing tasks. Teachers will assess learners’ French and Spanish regularly through translation and exams, alongside effort, behaviour and independent study according to the school’s assessment cycle and this information will be reported to parents.

Parental support

Help your child learn words by heart, ask him/her to tell you what has been learnt recently and encourage him/her to revise what they have learnt that week. Even if you don’t speak French or Spanish, you can really help your child by using their exercise book to test them on different words.

Students are lucky enough to have access to a wealth of online support nowadays and sites such as Memrise and Pearson ActiveLearn can be very helpful. All students will be provided with the school’s username and password for ActiveLearn in September. Encouraging your child to find out more about foreign countries as well as developing a thirst for travel will support their enthusiasm for the subject.

French and Spanish are among the most spoken languages in the world and provide an excellent opportunity for students to widen their horizons.


Learning in Geography

Students start the year studying what Geography actually is and the key skills needed to become a good geographer.

They learn the three types of Geography, to read and understand a range of maps, and the skills needed to be able to use these maps effectively, including four and six figure grid references, measuring distances, understanding and recognising symbols and interpreting the landscape by studying contour lines. This is all done in practical lessons that try to simulate real life situations where they might be asked to use those skills outside of school and in the workplace. Later on in the year students will look at weather and climate and particularly what affects the climate of the UK, which will involve some fieldwork based around the school. How to care for our environment and our impact on it will be covered through a scheme of work on the 3Rs (Reduce Reuse Recycle). Students will also study for a hypothetical African expedition which gives them an in-depth understanding and knowledge of the tropical environment, from the landscapes and climates, to the people and wildlife, as well as all the major issues that affect that part of the world.


Students will develop key geographical skills such as map reading and grid references alongside key concepts and processes operating in our day to day life (e.g. why we get the weather we do). Students will develop the ability to identify, describe and explain and tie in learning within the classroom to the outside world.


Students will be assessed in a range of ways involving both pupil and peer assessed tasks as well as teacher led and marked work. Tasks and activities assessed will be varied and range from group presentations to traditional tests to model making, all designed to cater for every learner’s strengths.

Parental support

Parents are encouraged to use Class Charts to monitor students out of class learning and to aid students with some of the longer tasks such as making waste pizzas. Parents’ experience of the world will undoubtedly help with understanding Geography and the sharing of these experiences is strongly encouraged.

Learning in History

Students will be looking at a curriculum based around the concept of “Shaping the Nation”. In Year 7 this will span a time period of 1066-1745. This part of the curriculum will look at the themes of “Conquest” (Hastings/crusades), “Everyday Lives” (Medieval towns, Black Death, witchcraft & religious tension and Medieval monarchs) and “The Struggle for Power” (The English Civil War, including a local study). In Year 8, “Shaping the Nation” looks at 1745 until 1945. This course looks at “The Changing Face of Britain” (empire & the Industrial Revolution), and “Challenges to Britain” (Suffrage, WW1, the interwar years including the rise of the dictators, WW2).


Students will work on their analytical skills and their ability to evaluate and judge evidence. They will be taught to weigh up their evidence in order to reach judgements of their own. Students will develop their written skills with a great focus on literacy in the classroom, as well as the ability to express themselves verbally. Students will develop the ability to identify, describe and explain and tie in learning within the classroom to the outside world.


Students will be assessed in a range of ways involving both pupil and peer assessed tasks as well as teacher led and marked work. Tasks and activities assessed will be varied and range from group presentations to traditional tests to model making, all designed to cater for every learner’s strengths.

Parental support

Parents are encouraged to use Class Charts to monitor students out of class learning. Parents’ experience of the world will undoubtedly help with understanding History and the sharing of these experiences is strongly encouraged. Greater links between the History department and parents is a focus in the coming years as it will be of fundamental importance that student, department and parent/carer alike can contribute to student success.

Learning in Religious Studies

Students will start the year with a topic on Philosophy and Thinking Skills, which will focus on ‘Big Questions’, identity, moral decisions and creation stories. This topic allows students to explore difficult questions in an open and safe environment and gets them discussing their own views in a more meaningful way. Next students will study the topic entitled ‘Jesus: Man or God’ which will look at the historical evidence on Jesus and his life as well as Christian beliefs.

This topic allows students to explore different types of evidence, miracles, parables and the resurrection, all with a focus on evaluation and answering the title question at the end. The final half term will be split into two sections, the first half term students will explore Sikhism; beliefs and practices and how these help to shape the Sikh community and the final half term will be spent on the NATRE Spirited Arts competition where students will be guided through a set theme (this changes every year) and then create a piece of art work, which could be submitted into the competition to win a prize. This is an excellent way to end the year as students are given a little more freedom to express their interests within a given theme.


Students will develop important skills within Religious Studies that will also be transferrable across other subject areas. Students will learn to describe and explain religious and philosophical beliefs and analyse the impact of these beliefs on a person’s everyday life. They will begin evaluating beliefs and looking at how to form detailed arguments supported by evidence. It is also important that students are skilled in expressing their own opinions while respecting the opinions of others.


Students will be assessed in a range of ways involving both pupil and peer assessed tasks as well as teacher led and marked work. Tasks and activities assessed will be varied and range from group presentations to traditional tests to model making, all designed to cater for every learner’s strengths. In Religious Studies students will have three formal assessments a year that are modelled on GCSE style assessments. These allow students to become familiar with the structure of a formal assessment and also means that the skills needed later on are fully embedded before beginning GCSE studies.

Parental support

Parents are encouraged to use Class Charts to monitor students’ out of class learning. Parental support is key when maintaining a student’s positive attitude towards Religious Studies as it is a thought provoking subject that can, at times, lead to the discussion of some difficult or sensitive topics so it is essential that students are able to extend their learning and understanding at home by continuing these discussions with the people closest to them.

Design & Technology


Students spend each term in mixed ability classes with specialist teachers. They learn to solve design problems through a variety of media including food, wood, metals, plastics and electronics. They learn to communicate and develop their ideas through designing and making prototypes. In Design & Technology we develop knowledge of sustainability and environmental issues, compare designs across cultures and learn how to use a variety of tools, machines and equipment. Year 7 develop their knowledge and confidence in all of these areas over the course of the year.


Year 7 students will develop the following skills in Design & Technology: teamwork, effective listening and observation of demonstrations, product analytical skills, practical confidence, hand/eye co-ordination, use of tools and processes, problem solving through design and modelling, evaluating skills and essential life skills.


Students will have a design book where they keep their ideas and a record of project development. Assessment for Learning linked to National Curriculum levels will also be recorded here. Teachers will set short term targets and monitor whether they are being met. The curriculum will be mapped out so we ensure a full and wide range of knowledge is experienced. This means that students can appreciate that you do not have to be an absolute specialist to succeed across all the different material disciplines.


Parents can support their child’s learning by regularly asking them what is being learnt in Design & Technology. Please monitor and take an interest in independent study and encourage them to use practical skills where possible. Please praise work that comes home, and lastly, it would really help if you could provide your child with firm shoes for workshop sessions.


PSHE (Personal, Social & Health Education) is a subject that promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of students alongside their academic studies.

In years 7 & 8 students will acknowledge and address the changes that learners are experiencing, beginning with transition to secondary school, the challenges of adolescence and their increasing independence. It teaches the skills which will equip them for the opportunities and challenges of life. Students will be encouraged to manage diverse relationships and the increasing influence of peers and the media.

The three core themes within PSHE are:

Health and wellbeing

  • How to manage transition
  • Maintain physical, mental and emotional health wellbeing including sexual health
  • Assessing and managing risk to stay healthy and safe
  • Respecting equality (racism, homophobia, ethnicity)


  • Develop and maintain a variety of healthy relationships
  • Recognising and managing emotions within a range of relationships
  • How to deal with risky/negative relationships including all forms of bullying, abuse and other violence and online encounters
  • To respect equality (racism, homophobia, ethnicity)
  • To identify and access appropriate advice and support
  • Develop an understanding of issues surrounding sex such as pornography, sexting, consent and grooming; as well as cultural issues such as FGM (Female Genital Mutilation).

Living in the wider world

  • Rights and responsibilities as members of diverse communities, as active citizens and participants in the local and national economy.

Physical Education

In year 7 students follow a varied programme that includes: Hockey Dance, Badminton, Basketball, Gymnastics, Football,

Fitness, Rugby, Netball, Athletics, Tennis, Rounders, Outdoor Education and Cricket. Year 7 have three hours a fortnight of PE lessons and will be set regular independent study each half term. We teach in single-sex groups and all students are expected to take part in all lessons. Any ill or injured child needs a note, but is still expected to bring the correct kit to wear so that they can participate in some aspect of the lesson, whether it be officiating or taking a controlled active part. Students are encouraged to make the most of the vast extra-curricular programme run by the PE department that takes place after school. These clubs are a way of developing sporting ability, growing in confidence, making new friends and most importantly making an active and positive contribution to life at St James.


Students are assessed in a range of ways involving self and peer assessed tasks as well as teacher assessed work. Students receive written and verbal feedback from teachers highlighting strengths and areas of good work as well as areas for development. Each new module of work students peer assess their level and highlight how they can improve to progress further.

Parental support

Parents can support their child’s learning by actively encouraging their child to attend an extra-curricular club or team.

The Arts – Art & Design

The Art department provides opportunities for all students to develop their ability to be confident visual communicators. The KS3 Art & Design course challenges students to produce high quality artwork, and develop their confidence and understanding regardless of ability.

We offer the opportunity for students to enjoy, explore and experiment with a range of Art, media, technology and imagery through practical projects and critical studies. Students are encouraged and learn to explore how Art can be used expressively, descriptively and objectively and acknowledge the importance of Art and its wider social and cultural implications for the individual, society and the environment.


Students learn and develop first hand observational skills and how this is applied to a range of drawing techniques, painting and printing making and 3D artwork. Students are introduced to and develop a knowledge and understanding of the formal drawing elements such as line, shape, texture, tone form and composition. They will develop their control and use of a range of drawing tools such as pencil, charcoal, line & wash, watercolour and acrylic painting. Every student will experiment with a broad range of materials, process and tools such as drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, graphic design and sculpture. Students are encouraged to investigate, evaluate and question artworks and artists from historical and contemporary periods of art history.


Students are assessed in a range of ways involving self and peer assessed tasks as well as teacher led marked work.

Students receive written and verbal feedback from teachers highlighting strengths and areas of good work as well as areas for development.

Parental support

Parents can support their child’s learning by taking an interest in their Art and by discussing and evaluating the work seen in sketchbooks. We also appreciate your support in encouraging your child to take an interest in the Arts and important local and national cultural issues; this helps students to formulate opinion and develop a deeper understanding of Art and its importance in the world. We would also appreciate that you encourage your child to complete independent study to a high standard showing care and consideration for the work produced.

The Arts – Music


Students follow a musically diverse curriculum, which aims to build rounded musicianship and develop essential social and teamwork skills. Music is approached very practically with the emphasis on creating and devising music first. There are three strands of musical learning: performance, composition and listening and appraising. These are developed during Key Stage 3 as these are the skills needed for the GCSE Music course.


Students will learn a variety of musical skills and knowledge starting in Y7 – reading music; playing a large variety of instruments like guitars, piano and drums; learning how to develop compositional skills such as creating live performances and also work to create soundtracks to film and performances for musical theatre, working closely with drama.

Music curriculum

  • Musical elements and program music
  • Reading music and keyboard skills
  • Pop arrangement
  • Soundtrack project
  • Stomp – musical theatre

Grouping and assessment

Students will work in various different groupings – solo, pair, small groups (4-5) and as a whole class ensemble. They will be assessed in a variety of ways throughout each unit. They will peer assess each other frequently as this is embedded into class work and a valuable way that students learn how to get better. They will also self-assess themselves and evaluate the unit at the end of studying it, logging their progress and setting weekly improvement targets in collaboration with teacher targets.

Parental support

All students have the option to learn an instrument with specialist teachers at St James. If your child already learns an instrument at their primary school, please contact our Head of Music in advance of September to ensure a smooth transition and continuation of their learning. For more detailed information on music at St James please visit: Students will also have the chance to take part in workshops at the Devon School ‘Mix Festival’ and to take part in trips to concerts/musicals which may involve a small cost to cover transport.

The Arts – Drama

Learning and skills

Students will build their confidence and self-esteem in, and through, performance work and working as a team. Drama at St James is approached through practical devised work using a range of techniques, lighting, music and sound effects.

All students are introduced to the basic skills of group work, improvisation and different ways of working with a script or text. All students enjoy this practical subject that helps develop their creative thinking and negotiation skills and their ability to work as part of a team. Our aim is to build students’ self-esteem, emotional intelligence and confidence through specifically themed projects that involve individual exercises and movement work, group improvisations and class performances.

Drama Curriculum

The Curriculum at KS3 begins to develop the skills which are needed for the Drama GCSE. Students will focus on characterisation, voice, gesture, stage and stage through a variety of projects. Not only will they rehearse scenes from published scripts, students will also create scenes from using a variety of stimuli. Below is a sample of scripts and stimuli which have previously been used:


  • Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare
  • A Midsummer Nights Dream – William Shakespeare
  • Gizmo – Alan Ayckbourn
  • Machine Gunners – Nick Hern
  • The Last Resort – Chris Owen


  • Poems
  • Pictures
  • Music
  • Newspaper articles


Students are assessed within the school assessment cycle using the Arts Council Drama level descriptors. Students regularly peer-assess their performances to revise and improve work in progress.


The Drama department frequently arranges visits to the theatre specifically for KS3 students which can either be local performances or a residential trip to London.

Extra-curricular activities

There are lots of opportunities for students to take part in extra activities and clubs outside lessons. Here are some examples:

  • Sport

The school has a thriving sports department and there many sports teams such as Football, Rugby, Hockey, Netball,

Cricket, Badminton, Tennis, Dance, Rounders and Athletics. Anyone can join, regardless of ability.

  • Art

After school sessions that allow students the opportunity to cultivate new skills and develop class work using traditional and new technologies.

  • Drama

The university drama department run drama workshops after school in the Autumn term and there are regular trips to the theatre arranged throughout the year. There is also a school production each year.

  • Music

The Music department offers a wide range of musical experiences and opportunities including Jazz band, the Pitch Perfect singing club, Piano club and Guitar club.

  • Geography

Young Explorers club runs every Thursday, looking at geography around the world.

  • Fairtrade

Explores how students can raise the awareness of fairtrade within the school and wider community; the group encourages others to buy more ethically.