Curriculum Intent, Implementation & Impact

Our ambition for our pupils; how we achieve the best in everyone and foster respect, enthusiasm, ambition and determination (intent)

Our aim is to provide an excellent education for all our students; an education which brings out the best in all of them and prepares them for success in life.  

Our curriculum is designed to provide children with the core knowledge they need for success in education and later life, to maximise their cognitive development, to develop the whole person and the talents of the individual and to allow all children to become active and economically self-sufficient citizens.  

By teaching our curriculum well we develop pupils’ cultural capital: “the essential knowledge that pupils need to be educated citizens, introducing them to the best that has been thought and said and helping to engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.” (DFE National Curriculum, 2014)  

We draw on Michael Young’s distinction between ‘the knowledge of the powerful’ and ‘powerful knowledge’: “Powerful knowledge ensures that people are not trapped by the limits of their experiences.” Yet we also want all pupils to be able to see themselves in our curriculum. Our recent review into the Diversity and Inclusion of our curriculum included a commitment to this dual function of curriculum: that all pupils see themselves in our curriculum, and our curriculum takes all pupils beyond their immediate experience. This, and the other guiding principles for our curriculum, are stated here: 

  • Entitlement: All pupils have the right to learn what is in the United Learning curriculum, and schools have a duty to ensure that all pupils are taught the whole of it.  

  • Coherence: Taking the National Curriculum as its starting point, our curriculum is carefully sequenced so that powerful knowledge builds term by term and year by year. We make meaningful connections within subjects and between subjects.  

  • Mastery: We ensure that foundational knowledge, skills and concepts are secure before moving on. Pupils revisit prior learning and apply their understanding in new contexts.  

  • Adaptability: The core content – the ‘what’ – of the curriculum is stable, but schools will bring it to life in their own local context, and teachers will adapt lessons – the ‘how’ – to meet the needs of their own classes. 

  • Representation: All pupils see themselves in our curriculum, and our curriculum takes all pupils beyond their immediate experience.  

  • Education with character: Our curriculum - which includes the taught subject timetable as well as spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, our co-curricular provision and the ethos and ‘hidden curriculum’ of the school – is intended to spark curiosity and to nourish both the head and the heart. 

The links below provide an overview of the topics taught across each year group and further information about our wider curriculum; please visit each curriculum page for a full description of the programmes of study for each year group across each subject area.  

If you have any further questions about the curriculum at Irlam and Cadishead Academy please email:

  • Curriculum Implementation

    How we expose our pupils to powerful knowledge and provide education with character (implementation) 

    Subject specialism is at the heart of our curriculum and you will see differences in the way that the curriculum is constructed and assessed in different subjects. Standardised written assessments, for example, play less of a role in performance subjects such as music and physical education. The stability of our curriculum allows subject expertise to develop over time, and we are careful to provide sufficient time for teachers of the same subject to plan together and collaborate.  

    Further subject specialism is provided by United Learning’s subject advisers. These advisers are subject experts who help teachers link the subject discipline to our pupils’ daily experience in the classroom. Subject advisers meet regularly with Heads of Department across United Learning and provide curriculum resources to support the implementation of the subject curriculum.  

    As a mastery curriculum our pupils study fewer topics in greater depth. A 3-year Key Stage 3 provides pupils with the time and space to gain a secure understanding that builds over time in each subject. In our lessons we expect to see all pupils grappling with the same challenging content, with teachers providing additional support for pupils who need it. Rather than moving on to new content, our higher attainers produce work of greater depth and flair.  

    Our approach to teaching and learning supports our curriculum by ensuring that lessons build on prior learning and provide sufficient opportunity for independent practice. Our lessons typically follow a simple instructional core: 

    – Teach: Explanation and modeling  

    – Check: Check for understanding  

    – Practice: Independent Practice 

    The independent practice phase of the lesson is critical, for it’s in this phase that pupils think hard and produce work that is the product of their thinking.  

    Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction provide us with a shared understanding of the characteristics of effective teaching. These principles support the implementation of the curriculum by ensuring that pupils regularly recall prior learning. You will often see this at the start of our lessons. 

    We are particularly conscious of the role that literacy and vocabulary play in unlocking the whole curriculum. Our teachers explicitly teach the meaning of subject-specific language, and we expect lessons to contain challenging reading and writing. Knowledge organisers provide students with key information that they are expected to learn and recall with fluency, enabling them to develop their understanding of key concepts outside of their lessons. 

    Teach Like a Champion (TLAC) techniques such as ‘cold calling’ and ‘no opt-out’ are the practical application of the Rosenshine Principles in the classroom. The Rosenshine Principles and the TLAC techniques are not intended to be a checklist for every lesson. Barak Rosenshine describes his principles as an articulation of the ‘general pattern’ of teaching, while Doug Lemov (author of Teach Like a Champion) describes his approach as a ‘recipe book’ and ‘not an instruction manual’ 

    To allow the mastery approach to be effective (i.e. children learn what they are expected to in the year they are expected to), early catch-up is essential: we aim to promptly identify and support pupils who start secondary school without a secure grasp of reading, writing and mathematics so that they can access the full curriculum. 

    Everything from which children learn in school – the taught subject timetable, the approach to spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development, the co-curricular provision, and the ethos and ‘hidden curriculum’ of the school – are to be seen as part of the school curriculum. Our principle of ‘Education with Character’ is delivered through the curriculum in this broadest sense. 



  • Curriculum Impact

    How we measure and secure continuous improvement for all (impact)


    With thousands of pupils across United Learning following the same curriculum, we have been able to develop common assessments in most subjects. These are summative assessments which allow pupils to demonstrate their growing understanding of their subjects and enable teachers to assess the impact of their teaching. These summative assessments are typically taken once or twice a year, meaning that the majority of assessment that pupils experience is formative assessment from lesson to lesson (i.e. responsive teaching, as teachers systematically check for understanding of the components of each subject and adjust their teaching accordingly).

    The culmination of our curriculum is that pupils leave our school with the ambition and determination to thrive. We know our pupils as individuals which enables us to provide curriculum guidance and careers guidance throughout their time with us. We expect all pupils to leave our school with the grades required to progress to their desired destination, and the character required to flourish once they get there.

    By teaching our curriculum well, and delivering education with character, we bring out the best in everyone.

  • KS3 Overview

    Key Stage 3


    The curriculum is designed to provide a coherent, broad and balanced education at all key stages. Students study the full range of courses at KS3 which then narrows slightly into KS4 when options are taken. However, during the options process the full range of courses are available to students in the open choices part of the curriculum to ensure a broad and balanced provision.


    (Fortnightly timetable, 50 periods)

    • 8 English
    • 8 Maths
    • 7 Science
    • 3 Geography
    • 3 History
    • 4 MFL (French)
    • 2 PRE
    • 2 Computing
    • 2 Art
    • 2 Drama
    • 2 Music
    • 2 Technology (carousel)
    • 2 Music
    • 4 PE
    • 1 PSHE



    Our reading programmes include tutor time guided reading and DEAR (drop everything and read) which are designed to ensure our students take enjoyment from reading and are exposed to a variety of texts which challenge and inspire them. All of our students at KS3 complete Bedrock Vocabulary as their weekly literacy homework to further enhance and develop their personalised literacy needs. They experience creativity aimed to enthuse through subjects such as Art, PE, Drama, Music and Technology. High quality PSHCE, RSE and health education ensures every student is equipped with the knowledge, skills and understanding to prepare them to play a full and active part in society. 

    With an emphasis on aspiration and comprehensive CEIAG provision, by the end of Key Stage 3 students will be able to make sensible subject option choices because they know what they enjoy and excel at, but also what they might need later on in life because they have an emergent idea of what area they want to study in or work in later in life.  

  • KS4 Overview

    Key Stage 4


    A child of Key Stage 4 will have developed the respect, enthusiasm, ambition and determination required in order to prepare them to make a success of their lives. They will have experienced a broad variety of topics at KS3, but also studied many in-depth, developing expertise in a range of subject specialisms which will enable them to make informed decisions as to what to study beyond key stage 4.  

    The structure of the curriculum for Year 10 and 11 students has 2 distinct parts:


    Part 1


    The core curriculum is compulsory for all students:


    • English Language and English Literature for 8 periods per fortnight


    • Mathematics for 8 periods per fortnight


    • Science for 10 periods per fortnight. Students will be directed to one of two pathways in Science. This will depend on their performance in Year 9:


      • Triple Award Science: Students can opt to take this via part two of the curriculum and via additional lessons will take three separate GCSEs in Science - one in each in Biology, Chemistry and Physics, or
      • Combined Science (Trilogy). This course is made up of separate Biology, Chemistry and Physics modules. A double grade from 9-9 to 1-1 will be awarded.


    • Core Physical Education for 3 periods per fortnight



    Part 2


    We offer different option pathways to each student according to how well we feel they will achieve on the courses in that pathway. Students can select from:



    • Triple Science
    • Computing
    • History
    • Geography
    • French
    • Performing Arts
    • Childcare
    • Art or Textiles
    • Catering
    • Engineering
    • Sports Studies
    • Religious Studies
    • Music



    The EBACC award is available to all students regardless of ability. For further details regarding options and the EBACC qualification, please follow the Options tab on our website.


  • Assessment at ICA


    Assessment and curriculum go hand in hand. We view the curriculum as the progression model, which means that each subject’s curriculum ‘sets out the journey that a child goes on to get better at the subject’ (Fordham). We therefore seek evidence of progress not in spreadsheets or exam rubrics, but from speaking to pupils and looking at their work: have they learnt the things we’ve taught them? 

    Assessment is carried out regularly utilising formative assessment techniques such as low stake quizzing, questioning, do it now and self-assessment techniques.  

    In practical subjects, students are assessed by on-going assessment of practical and investigative skills.   

    Students demonstrate their knowledge though how they articulate their learning through oracy, and teachers use evidence from written work and extended writing (Big Write) to review understanding of key knowledge and skills. 

    Utilising a range of formative assessment, teachers reflect on each student’s level of understanding, reflect on the effectiveness of what has been taught and make appropriate amendments to planning.  

    Summative assessment is provided in our curriculum through our common assessments:  

    • Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9: Mid Year and End of Year Assessments in English, Maths, Science, History, Geography and French.  
    • Year 10: Mid Year and End of Year exams in English, Maths, Science, History, Geography and French. 
    • Year 11: We provide 2 series of common mocks in all subjects our students are studying. 

    From our pupils’ perspective, the vast majority of the assessments that they experience will be in-class formative assessment, focusing on the specific components of each subject. This responsive teaching is what the Rosenshine principles are all about: teaching things in small steps and routinely checking the understanding of all pupils as they work towards fluency and independence. 

  • Year 9 Options

    At Irlam and Cadishead Academy, our aim is to bring out ensure our students leave school demonstrating respect, enthusiasm, ambition and determination. As our Year 9 students begin to make important decisions that will affect their future, we aim to ensure that each child has the right guidance to put them on a path to reach their full potential. 

    In preparation for choosing their options, students participate in a range of CEAIG activities to ensure they have guidance regarding their future career pathways. (Please see our CEAIG area for further details of our provision). 

    GM Higher’s Parent & Carer guide includes a section on Choosing GCSE subjects as well as the student Uni&Me guide which outlines Do’s and Don’ts for choosing GCSEs (You may also find the What Can I Study - Part 1 - Introduction - GM Higher video useful). 

    As we approach the time of year where students will select their options, we provide a range of assemblies with Q&A as well as more bespoke support for those students who are uncertain about their choices. Our Year 9 Parents’ Evening and Options presentation evening provides a further opportunity for parents/carers to speak to subject specialists regarding their child’s next steps. 

    The contact details for all of our curriculum leaders can be found in the options booklet if you have any subject specific enquiries, whilst Mrs. Davies, our Head of Year 9, is available for any general enquiries:

    The ICA options booklet can be downloaded below. 

  • A Diverse and Inclusive Curriculum

    The curriculum has the power to bring us together, to take a child beyond their own world and into something bigger. We want all pupils to be able to see themselves in our curriculum. But we also want our curriculum to open up new worlds – to expose them to knowledge, understanding and skills as well as beliefs, people, places and values, that they would not otherwise encounter.


    Diversity and Inclusion in Each Subject

    Please refer to each specific subject area on our website for more specific details.





    Our revised curriculum ensures that diverse voices are heard through the chosen texts, both in terms of authorship and characterisation, as well as guidance for teachers on teaching specific texts such as contextual background on colonialism for Treasure Island and how to manage the presence of racist and sexist language in Of Mice and Men.





    Our updated curriculum ensures that names of people used in mathematical problems are appropriately diverse. Classroom and corridor displays are used to promote diversity in Maths. This includes resources that highlight maths in historic periods and through ancient architecture and resources that highlight worldwide contributions to mathematics, as well as resources that present prominent people from diverse backgrounds who use Maths in their work or studied Maths at an advanced level.





    Our updated curriculum ensures that data and working scientifically tasks are representative of a wide range of countries and cultures. We also use a diverse range of names and images in questions and tasks throughout the Science curriculum. Furthermore, as a result of the review we make appropriate reference (names and images) to the contributions of ethnic minority scientists to the resources used in lessons and ensure that career slides showcase modern scientists from diverse backgrounds.





    Our revised curriculum includes additional core units that are grounded in diverse content. Y7 begin with ‘Worldviews in 1000’ and also includes a study of Medieval Mali; Y8 culminates in a study of the British Empire as well as the existing unit on the Transatlantic Slave Trade; Y9 now includes a depth unit on British Civil Rights post WWII. The chronological coherence of the history curriculum has been retained, but the lens has been widened.





    Our revised curriculum ensures a balanced and detailed representation of a variety of places from around the world, including additional place focused lessons, which help to challenge misconceptions and the single story which might exist for some countries in certain continents.





    Our revised KS3 curriculum begins with a visual overview of the demographics of French speaking nations from around the world. This helps to challenge Eurocentric representations and enables teachers to discuss with pupils the reasons for the international spread of European languages, such as empire and migration. Throughout our curriculum we ensure that units on family, holidays, education and poverty benefit from balance and diversity.





    We have embedded diverse and inclusive musical source material within our common curriculum, ensuring increased representation of ethnic minority performers and composers in all topic areas, not only western popular music and ‘world’ music, but also drawing on a wide range of artists that typify musical styles across history and contemporary repertoire. A new unit in Y8 - ‘Black Music in America’ (the Creative Musician) - tells the story of the development of western popular music genres, alongside immersive performing and composing opportunities: from spirituals, ragtime, blues, jazz, soul - leading to contemporary urban music.



    Philosophy, religion and ethics


    As a newly developed common curriculum, we have ensured from the outset that it is sufficiently diverse and inclusive. It features units on Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as the Abrahamic faiths, and includes an Equality unit which tackles issues of racism, gender, sexuality and disability directly.



    Whilst some subject areas lend themselves more to exploring diversity and inclusion, all subject areas at Irlam and Cadishead Academy take every opportunity to celebrate and promote our rich and diverse culture. For example, art explore a range of artists and artistic styles representing ethnic minorities, computing actively promote the Ada Love lace day with competitions etc.

  • Tutor Time and Assemblies

    The assembly and tutor programme at ICA provides a chance to reaffirm the school’s culture and ethos, and to provide meaning for pupils beyond the subjects they study. Our Assemblies and tutor time are used to enable our school community to reflect on events taking place beyond the school, both current affairs and key moments in the year, such as religious festivals. They work in synchrony with each other; tutor time and PSHCE promote opportunities for reflection, discussion and application of themes presented in assemblies.

    Every opportunity is taken to promote our local and wider community assisting in students understanding their place within the wider world and further promoting our ethos of respect, enthusiasm, ambition and determination.


    Whole School Reading

    Our tutor time reading programme presents further opportunities to represent diverse voices, both in terms of authorship and the people and places in the texts themselves. We have selected a range of age-appropriate texts designed to promote discussion and cultural capital, whilst also further developing students’ literacy.


    Year 7  

    The Pearl 

    John Steinbeck 


    The Diary of a Young Girl 

    Anne Frank 

    1947 NF 

    The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas 

    John Boyne 


    The Graveyard Book 

    Neil Gaiman 


    Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief  

    Rick Riordan 



    Year 8 

    Chinese Cinderella 

    Adeline Yen Mah 


    Sophie’s World 

    Jostein Gaarder 


    The Ruby in the Smoke 

    Phillip Pullman  


    Mud, Sweat and Tears 

    Bear Grylls 

    2011 NF 

    The Subtle Knife 

    Phillip Pullman  


    Touching the Void 

    Joe Simpson 

    1988 NF 


    Year 9 


    Daphne Du Maurier 


    Noughts and Crosses 

    Malorie Blackman 


    Oliver Twist 

    Charles Dickens  


    The Book Thief 

    Marcus Zusak 


    Of Mice and Men 

    John Steinbeck 



    Year 10 

    I Am Malala 

    Malala Yousafzai 

    2013 NF 

    The Woman in Black 

    Susan Hill 


    Never Let Me Go 

    Kazuo Ishiguro 


    The Hate U Give 

    Angie Thomas 


    Life of Pi 

    Yann Martel 


    To Kill a Mockingbird  

    Harper Lee 


ICA Whole School Long Term Plans

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