Curriculum Overview


The core values that underpin our curriculum at PHS are the following:

  • Academic excellence
  • Holistic development
  • Increased life chances for all

At PHS we see the curriculum as the organisation of the knowledge we seek to impart on students during their time at the academy. Our ambitious curriculum reflects our high expectations that all students at Penketh High School are capable of accessing a suite of subjects that prepares them well academically, exposing them to the best of what has been thought and said in each subject discipline. We also recognise the importance of developing our student’s cultural literacy. This means knowing who we are and where we come from, the great ideas from the past and the foundations of scientific discovery.  We also recognise the importance of allowing students to engage with big ideas and concepts and to apply and combine knowledge.

At Penketh we believe that the best opportunity for our students to achieve academic excellence is to ensure that they are prepared to undertake the academically rigorous English Baccalaureate suite of subjects. In 2019 the school achieved its best ever Progress 8 outcome (-0.09) with 68% of students undertaking the English Baccalaureate.  This is significantly higher than the local authority average entry of 35.2 % (2019 provisional DfE data) and a national average of 36.5% (2019 provisional DfE data). This increased pattern of entry is set to continue with 84% of our current year 11 students undertaking the English Baccalaureate.

The school also recognises the importance of the curriculum in supporting students from all backgrounds, including those who are disadvantaged, in order for them to be able to access a high quality, knowledge rich curriculum. The school believes strongly in providing disadvantaged students with a curriculum that enables them to reach the academic standards of their non-disadvantaged peers. This means that upon leaving school they are able to take part in what Michael Oakeshott describes as ‘the great conversation of humanity’. This focus on providing a curriculum that enables our disadvantaged students to develop their knowledge and cultural literacy has resulted in the school significantly improving outcomes for disadvantaged students over the last two years against that of their non-disadvantaged peers.  The progress made by disadvantaged pupils at the end of Key Stage 4 in 2019, represents the best outcome ever achieved by the school.

At Penketh High School we have undertaken a significant project around ensuring that our students have a strong and coherent curriculum that is sequenced in order to maximise students’ knowledge and cultural literacy. Students undertake a three Year Key Stage Three and two Year Key Stage Four in all English Baccalaureate subjects. Furthermore, our curriculum provides bespoke pathways to ensure SEND students have equality of opportunity. Consequently, our 2019 SEND progress is the best in the history of the school.

The research that has informed our curriculum vision and curriculum enactment is referenced below.

Additionally, this core academic learning experience will be supplemented with curricula for holistic development in order for students to be more self-aware, to build relationships and have a tolerance of difference. We also recognise the importance of the curriculum in supporting our students to develop ethically. We also believe in providing our students with intellectual, artistic and physical nourishment, to have opportunities to be creative and have an appreciation of the arts and culture.

Curriculum enactment

Our core purpose as teachers is to ensure that students ‘know more and remember more’ through evidence based teaching practice.

Simple memory model, Willingham; Why don’t students like school?

Willingham’s memory model sits central to teacher development so that teachers have a clear knowledge of how students learn new material and then are able to retain this material to use in new contexts.

Our curriculum is sequenced so that knowledge is built over time, with new knowledge built upon existing knowledge so that schema can be developed sequentially. Our teaching approach through classroom practice is grounded in Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction, whereby teachers develop and implement techniques which support knowledge retention. Effective questioning, checking for understanding, modelling, scaffolding, chucking, regular reviews and stages of practice all support the delivery of a knowledge rich curriculum.

Furthermore, form this year student homework is based on the use of knowledge organisers. These have been created for students to utilise at home and are centered on the core knowledge they are expected to know in order to be successful in the topics being delivered across each term, in each subject.

In setting out the core principles of our curriculum intent and its enactment (pedagogy) we have utilised some key ideas derived from the following texts:


  • Curriculum-Athena versus the machine by Martin Robinson
  • Make it Stick by Peter C. Brown & Mark A. McDaniel
  • Why Don’t Students Like School? by Daniel T. Willingham
  • The Curriculum by Mary Myatt
  • The Learning Rainforest by Tom Sherrington
  • Making Good Progress? The future of Assessment for learning by Daisy Christodoulou
  • The Secondary curriculum leader’s handbook by Roy Blatchford and various contributors
  • Changing the subject – The Sutton Trust

 Enactment (pedagogy)

  • Rosenshine’s Principles in Action by Tom Sherrington
  • Closing the Vocabulary Gap by Alex Quigley
  • Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov
  • Unleashing Great Teaching by David Weston and Bridget Clay
  • Practice Perfect by Doug Lemov
  • Ethic of Excellence by Ron Berger
  • Principles of Instruction by Barak Rosenshine
  • Making Every Lesson Count by Shaun Allison and Andy Tharby
  • Leadership for Teacher Learning by Dylan Wiliam
  • Embedded Formative Assessment by Dylan Wiliam
  • Strengthening the Student Toolbox by John Dunlosky

Developing student vocabulary

 “Closing the vocabulary gap between our ‘word poor’ and ‘word rich’ students could prove the vital difference between school failure and success”

Alex Quigley- closing the vocabulary gap

The school recognises that vocabulary is a good proxy for school success. At Penketh we are committed to ensuring that curricular provision helps develop student’s vocabulary so that they are able to develop a greater awareness of words supporting their academic and cultural development. We also recognise that strategies should be used to ensure that students improve the breadth and sophistication of their vocabulary on a whole school level and within individual subjects. Furthermore, the school is committed to ensuring that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are given an opportunity to improve their vocabulary in order to close the gap on disadvantaged peers. The school has invested in opening a new Library in 2019 that will be used for a range of activities that further support students to develop their reading and vocabulary.


The curriculum is organised into 25 periods per week comprising 5 x one-hour sessions each day. Years 7, 8 & 9 form part of a Key Stage 3 study and Year 10 and 11 are when students are fully beginning GCSEs across the full suite of subjects. The curriculum is tailored to meet the needs of individual students and maximise their achievement. The school believes in equality of opportunity for all students and that all students are capable of success.

Additional Information

For further information on the curriculum you can contact : Mr. Adam McMillan, Vice Principal –


In order to help support our vision for students at PHS and to further help develop student’s skills and confidence the school offers a comprehensive enrichment programme. This is run at lunchtimes and after school.  Over 85% of students in the school have attended at least one enrichment session while 62% of students have attended more than one of these sessions.

Further to these non-academic enrichments are our after school academic sessions.  

Please see below a complete breakdown of our enrichment programme. 


Art ClubFilm Club
Band WorkshopFoodie Club
Year 7 Basketball ClubYear 9 GCSE Drama
Year 8 Basketball ClubGeography Club
Year 9 Basketball ClubGeneral Knowledge Quiz
Beginner's LatinGirls Design & Engineering Club
Board GamesGolf Club (PE)
Orchard Board GamesHarmonix
Boys ChoirHistory Homework Club
Card GamesLego Club
Chess ClubMandarin Chinese
Chamber ChoirMindfulness
Colouring ClubMusic Tech Club
Countdown ClubPercussion Workshop
Craft ClubPhotosynthesis Club
Dance Work SpacePuzzle Club
Dan's ArmyRunning Club
Dead Poets ClubY7 & Y8 Science Club
Debating & Politics ClubTaskmaster
Design Drawing & Model MakingWool Craft
Digital Art ClubWriter's Club
DoE Skills - Knitting ClubYear Graduation
DoE Skills - Model Making ClubFaith Club
E-Portfolio ClubFootball