The Curriculum at St Christopher’s School

The whole purpose of education is to replace an empty mind with an open one”- Malcolm S. Forbes


What is an independent school?

In the United Kingdom independent schools have an excellent reputation for high standards of teaching and learning and almost all pupils go on to prestigious universities when they leave.


How does our curriculum relate to the National Curriculum?

In England and Wales, the government implements the National Curriculum. This provides a framework for education between the ages of 5 – 18 which focusses on achieving a national expected standard. Since 2015, National Curriculum tests (SATs Tests) indicate whether a student has attained the expected national standard or not.

St Christopher’s School aims to cover key elements of the National Curriculum, but to exceed it in important respects. Our aim is to track ability and attainment over and above the national expected standard. Our teaching in English and Maths is heavily influenced by the Independent Schools Examining Board curriculum, which we believe is more challenging and geared to 11+ exam criteria.  We also teach and practise exam skills through standardised tests and ISEB exams as well as verbal reasoning and non verbal reasoning tests. Finally our assessment system is based on standardised scores which track each student’s ability and indicate how they have exceeded the expected national standard.  We expect most of our students to exceed the expected national standard.

We have also made a conscious decision to base our assessment on academic tests in exam conditions, which better prepare our students for the 11+ system.


How does National Curriculum work?

The National Curriculum is constructed in Key Stages:

  • Key Stage 1- Years 1 & 2 for pupils aged between 5 and 7 years old
  • Key Stage 12- Years 3 & 6 for pupils aged between 8 and 11 years old

Compulsory National Curriculum subjects at primary school are:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Design and Technology
  • History
  • Geography
  • Art and Design
  • Music
  • Physical Education (PE)
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

Schools can develop thier own ICT curricula or follow the programmes of study. They must also provide Religious Education (RE)

Schools often also teach:

  • Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHEE)
  • Citizenship
  • Modern Foreign Languages

Basic skills teaching continues into the Main School at age 5 +. Every child is heard to read aloud every day. A good handwriting style is encouraged and because basic maths forms part of everyday’ s timetable, pupils learn to handle numbers in an easy and confident way. There are short weekly tests in both spelling and mental arithmetic and children can earn House Points for effort and achievement, both academic and personal.

At this stage of education, it is important that every pupil continues to receive individual attention. This not only helps them to discover and develop their personal strengths, but also to uncover any areas of weakness. Once those strengths and weaknesses are recognised then an appropriate curriculum plan can be tailored.

The curriculum in the Preparatory School includes English, Mathematics, Science, ICT, History, Geography, RE, MFL (French), Music, Art and Sport. Continuous assessment, both formal and informal, takes place throughout the age range including the introduction to the concept of formal examinations.