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Raising the achievement of All

Curriculum Overview

Curriculum Vision and Values


The curriculum at Icknield High School encompasses every aspect of a young person’s learning; everything we do is underpinned by our overriding philosophy of ‘Raising the Achievement of All’. To this end, we have purposefully designed our curriculum so it is cohesive, challenging and knowledge-based. This allows for strong academic rigour, whilst also recognising the importance of developing students’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural skills which are vital for their life beyond the school’s gates.

At Icknield High school we encourage students to immerse themselves in their studies and choose subjects which cater for their potential and capability. In order to give students a broad and balanced experience, we cover the whole of the statutory national curriculum at key stage 3, and continue to offer a wide range of subjects at Key Stage 4 (KS4). We encourage students of all abilities to follow the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) pathway and are pleased to see a rising number of students accessing this pathway.

 As a school we also value the creative arts and believe that every student should be given the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills in this area. As such, every student studies the core principles of Art and Design at Key Stage 3 (KS3), before choosing either Art and Design, Graphic Communication, Film or Textiles to study in greater depth at KS4. We are proud of the fact that all of our students leave us with a GCSE in a creative arts subject and the majority of students excel in this area.

Our curriculum is designed around fifty one hour lessons over a two weekly cycle. In addition to this, all year groups begin the day with a 30 minute session with their tutor group. At Icknield the role of a tutor is extremely important and recognised as being crucial in supporting our students’ development, both academic and personal.

Key Stage 3


The curriculum at KS3 is designed to build on learning undertaken at Key Stage 2 (KS2). We address any evident gaps in knowledge when students join us in year 7. We work very closely with our main feeder schools to ensure we understand their curriculum and outcomes so no time is wasted.

There is a strong focus on literacy, reading and Mathematics for students of all abilities, but in particular for the many students who have outcomes below national average when they first arrive at Icknield. The decision to include an extra literacy period in the KS3 timetable is as a result of this, and we are confident that our KS3 curriculum provides students with the foundation knowledge needed to access the academically challenging KS4 programmes of study.

At KS3 all of our students have access to all statutory national curriculum content. The hours allocated for these are as follows:


Lessons per fortnightly cycle in Years 7 and 8

Mathematics and English




Geography, History and Modern Foreign Languages (French, German or Spanish)


Visual Arts and Physical Education


Computing, Ethics and Philosophy, Music, Design Technology and PSCHE


Literacy/Extra English



Key Stage 4


At KS4 the curriculum builds upon the foundation work undertaken at KS3. We do this by ensuring that students develop a deeper and more insightful understanding of the core knowledge underpinning their subjects. Whilst academic rigour is at the heart of our curriculum, we also recognise the importance of students continuing to access the wider curriculum beyond the restraints of the GCSE specifications. As a result, we offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities which enables us to foster a love for learning outside the classroom.

There continues to be a strong focus on literacy, reading and Mathematics for students of all abilities at KS4. Where students have been identified as at risk of failing their English or Mathematics GCSE, they are guided to study extra Mathematics or English in place of one of their GCSE option subjects. We do this as we know it gives these students the best possible life chances and opens more opportunities for them at post-16 level. Unlike many schools in the local area, we also offer four GCSE option choices to the majority of our students.

Our students begin their KS4 courses at the beginning of Year 9. The primary reasons for this are:

  • We value the creative arts subjects and are proud of the fact that all students leave the school with a GCSE in this area. Offering a three year KS4 curriculum allows us to ensure that students have the maximum possible exposure to creative subjects. As we know that our community tends to favour more scientific-based subjects, this is an important consideration in ensuring that students have a broad and balanced subject portfolio.
  • Unlike many schools locally, students still have a choice of four GCSE option subjects. Therefore, students maintain the breadth of curriculum for longer; we do not narrow or homogenise our KS4 offer to accommodate extra time for repeated exam practice.
  • A greater proportion of our students are taking the EBacc at KS4, and the government have identified languages and humanities as being more difficult than other GCSE option subjects. The three-year KS4 model enables us to achieve outstanding outcomes at grades 9-5 for students who study the full EBacc.
  • Our careers programme across KS3 is fully personalised, enabling students to make informed choices when picking their options subjects at the end of year 8.
  • Feedback from our key stakeholders, particularly parents, indicates they would prefer for children to continue to pick their option subjects at the end of year 8 to allow their children to specialise early.
  • Since the introduction of the new, more rigorous GCSE specification, we have seen a significant rise in referrals from doctors for students suffering from stress and anxiety. Whilst we have put into place numerous strategies to support students with dealing with exam pressure, we believe that delivering KS4 over a three year period allows our students to feel more secure when sitting their terminal examinations at the end of year 11.
  • Our wider curriculum offer is being taken up by the vast majority of students to develop their cultural capital.

At KS4 all students follow a core curriculum which includes: English, Mathematics, Science, Ethics and Philosophy, Core Physical Education, PSCHE and a Visual Art subject of their choice.

The following option subjects are also available for students to select: Business Studies, Computer Science, Food Technology, Health and Social Care, Sports Studies, French, German, Spanish, History, Geography, Music and Design Technology.

The hours allocated for these is as follows:


Lessons per fortnightly cycle in Years 9, 10 and 11

Mathematics and English

8 hours


6 hours in Year 9;  8 hours in Year 10 and 11

Visual Art

5 hours

Options x3

5 hours

Core Physical Education

4 hours in Year 9 and 10;  3 hours in Year 11


2 hours in Year 9;  1 hour in Year 11

Ethics and Philosophy

2 hours


Curriculum impact


As a result of investing in staff subject knowledge and curriculum design, as well as shaping lessons around Rosenshine's Principles of Effective Instruction, we ensure the curriculum in all subjects is challenging, clearly sequenced, and effective in preparing students for their terminal exams at the end of year 11.

We are pleased to report that our school achieved a Progress 8 score of +0.40 in 2019, demonstrating that our students are thriving and make excellent progress during their journey at the school. The 2019 outcomes mean that we are amongst the top 17% of schools nationally in terms of performance. The school outcomes for last 3 years have been judged to be above average based on the criteria set by the Department for Education.

All students are fully prepared for the next stage of their educational journey and effectively prepared for the wider world. This is validated by our destination figures with over 96% students remaining in sustained education and training compared to 93% nationally. This reflects the huge amount of work carried out by the careers coordinator in ensuring students apply for the most appropriate pathway for them.

The proportion of our students achieving a grade 4 and above in both Mathematics and English is 12% above national average, which places the outcomes in the top 5% of the country. Our students achieving a grade 5 and above in mathematics and English is 13% above national average and places the outcomes in the top 8% of the country, and the highest in Luton. This is important to us as it allows students in this community to move onto appropriate post-16 education and training. 

We are committed to ‘Raising the Achievement of All’ and look to ensure all students make significant progress, irrespective of their starting points across all their subjects. The school is justifiably delighted that outcomes for all ability groups on entry are positive.