The curriculum at Penketh High School


At PHS we see the curriculum as the prime engine of school improvement. Our philosophy is that high level knowledge, often referred to as powerful knowledge, is critical to the academic success of pupils and plays a vital role in preparing them for life’s opportunities, responsibilities and experiences. Furthermore, we believe that our curriculum should provide pupil’s with a rich, coherent and ambitious education that takes them beyond their own experiences so they can confidently meet the demands of life after PHS. Consequently, ensuring that the curriculum is planned and sequenced in a coherent manner that maximises the ability of our pupils to acquire high level knowledge, that supports them to move them from novice to expert in each subject area over time, is central to our curriculum planning.

The school also recognises the vital importance of the curriculum as a ‘lever for social justice’ that can support students from all background to access a high quality education. Our curriculum is designed to enable each individual to develop their maximum potential. We believe that every student is capable of excellence and encourage each student to push themselves to achieve their potential.

Additionally, this core academic learning experience is 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. Ian Farrar, 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 which is run during a 45 minute period 6 at the end of the school day. Monday and Tuesday Year 7 & 8 and Year 9 & 10 have their enrichment on Wednesday & Thursday. Year 11 have a bespoke period of revision each day 2:30-3:15 to help them best prepare for their mock examinations across the year as we build to the final GCSE examinations in the summer term.

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

Please see below a complete breakdown of our enrichment programme.