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Intent, Implementation and Impact


Thornden School aims to develop effective learners who are challenged to have high aspirations, develop the knowledge and skills to appreciate and understand the world around them, and achieve ambitious outcomes that form the foundations to access opportunities for further, more specialised learning in the future. We strive to support our students to develop into confident, happy, successful young adults who have empathy towards and an understanding of others. Our rigorous academic curriculum aims to provide the breadth and depth of knowledge and learning to create confident and resilient learners who actively participate in the variety of learning experiences open to them, and enjoy the demands associated with learning.  



Our curriculum has always been designed to offer a broad and balanced education providing challenge for all students. Its academic focus aims to open doors for all students, regardless of differences in prior attainment, and is tailored to meet the needs of certain individuals for whom extra support and vocational opportunities are required to help access challenging content. We place great emphasis on building positive relationships in school, amongst the students themselves and between staff, students and parents/cares.

Deep learning in each subject is facilitated by a spending quality time in Years 7-9 ensuring that students have a grasp of key concepts so that firm foundations are in place ahead of making informed choices regarding GCSE subjects and other qualifications in Years 10-11. All subjects from Years 7-9 are available at GCSE with the addition of a few new subjects which extend options further. Routes at GCSE leave subjects open to all students within a framework that supports and promotes academic achievement. At GCSE level, the core subjects are supported by 4 options, two which are broadly EBacc* and two free choices. Effective learning strategies are used across the school and shared with students to ensure they master key techniques to support learning. *(English Baccalaureate – English, maths, 2 sciences, humanity and modern foreign language). Within the curriculum, subjects such as PSHE (including Citizenship) and RE have particular links to SMSC, however all subjects and areas of school life contribute to the students’ SMSC development at Thornden. The curriculum is further enriched by a variety of wider cultural opportunities including clubs, trips, productions, and competitions providing wider social learning experiences and helping to support a sense of belonging and achievement.

Groupings are tailored to each subject to promote a culture of high expectations and challenge, with the majority of subjects being taught within mixed ability classes from Years 7- 11 (History, geography, R S, technology, art, music, dance and drama. English is mixed ability with an extension set at GCSE). Other subjects introduce broad and flexible setting which relates only to that subject (science and languages) as students move through school. On entry, most subjects are taught as tutor groups to support a smooth transition into our school. 

Our curriculum is aspirational and holds challenge for students. Some subjects have a spiral, cumulative curriculum structure whereby knowledge and understanding of concepts is built from repeated exposure to a variety of different examples. Other subjects have a curriculum structure that is more hierarchical whereby the knowledge and understanding of concepts is developed by the mastery of components step by step. Our curriculum is implemented through lessons which support the development, long-term retention, and application of knowledge. This is achieved by the regular review of material, use of questioning, providing modelling and scaffolding, and guiding deliberate practice. Assessment and feedback is tailored to each subject, with a focus on teachers checking students’ understanding day to day in the classroom to inform their teaching and planning. Summative assessments are strategically placed to support students in developing and independently applying the effective learning strategies modelled to them in lessons, to assist the long-term retention and transfer of knowledge, and to help teachers to monitor the progress of individual students in developing their subject specific schema.  

The ethos at Thornden combines a focus on achievement with a strong concern for the social development, physical and mental health, and the wellbeing of each individual. All students are valued as individuals and are supported through our pastoral system, their teachers and tutors, the learning support department and through engaging with the parents of individual students.



Our students work hard, they believe they will do well and go on to achieve very strong academic outcomes at Thornden and beyond. They are confident and understand themselves in the world around them. Students develop skills, knowledge and an understanding which makes them ready for their next stage of education, whether this be college followed by a Russell Group University or an apprenticeship leading into employment.