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Curriculum Aims

Curriculum Aims

Our Context:

PACA is a comprehensive and inclusive school set on the edge of Brighton and the South Downs, serving students from across Brighton and Hove and West Sussex. Our students go on to a full range of post-16 opportunities both at college and in apprenticeships before moving to higher education and careers, locally, nationally, and internationally. Looking into the future, we know many of our young people will go to jobs that have not yet even been invented.

Our Overall Curriculum Aims:

Our aim is to ensure that all PACA students have the greatest range of choice possible for their next steps in education or employment. This means we organise the curriculum so students cover the greatest range of subjects possible, while also studying at sufficient depth to get high quality grades to have the most choice at college. We also recognise that school learning needs to give students a wider knowledge of the world, a love of learning, a range of skills to work with new ideas and apply them in different contexts.

What we teach:

Our formal taught curriculum

The curriculum is designed to give a wide range of experiences in years 7-9, while also providing support to students so they have the fundamental knowledge and skills needed in Maths and English to access the wider curriculum. In Year 7 and 8 students’ study 16 subjects from English, Maths, the three Sciences, Computer Science, History, Geography, Religious studies, a Modern Language (either French or Spanish), Art, Music, Drama, STEM, Food Technology, Dance and Physical Education.

The curriculum gradually narrows so that in year 9, students can make an informed choice about the subjects they wish to continue to GCSE.

The GCSE curriculum is made of 9-11 qualifications with all students studying: English Language, English Literature, Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology (either as 2 GCSEs or triple science), and a humanities subject (History or Geography). The vast majority of students also study a Modern Foreign Language. Students then chose an additional two subjects from a choice of 19.

Our wider curriculum

The curriculum at PACA happens both within and beyond the classroom. A PACA education involves far more than the subjects examined at GCSE. Through Key Stage 3, students take part in fortnightly enrichment on Wednesday afternoons, with choices ranging from Funk Choir, to rock climbing at Boulder Brighton and the Great PACA Bake Off. Fully funded after school clubs include a wide range of sports, from the more traditional team sports to trampolining and volleyball, as well as sewing club, creative writing and Spanish.

We actively help our students to recognise their leadership potential and develop their ability to collaborate. To support this vision, we offer a wide range of timetabled lessons such as the PSHE and careers curriculum and the Expert Learner programme. Further personal development opportunities include the Mental Health Champions and LGBTQ+ groups, the student leadership and the Duke of Edinburgh programmes.

The programme for Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE); Careers Education and Enterprise and Entrepreneurship education is run through a 30-minute daily tutor time programme. The programme builds students’ awareness of their character strengths and presses them to take on challenges such as public speaking. It allows pupils to explore their aspirations and develop their agency to achieve them. Students develop their ability to navigate personal and social choices as their understanding of the value of positive conduct and contribution to the community.

How we teach:

The PACA curriculum is founded on four principles:

1) Students driving their own learning.
2) Knowledge is the foundation of learning, so our curriculum is structured to support students’ memory.
3) Learning happens best when children are thinking and applying ideas.
4) Some ideas have real power to change the way we look at the world. We call this transformative knowledge. In each subject we develop clarity of what the transformative knowledge is and how best we can develop students’ understanding of these ideas.

In practice this means offering a range of opportunities for our students to be successful, we aim to ensure that our students’ time in school is engaging and enjoyable. PACA pupils work well together; they lead their own learning, and they develop their interests and passions through Year 7 to Year 11. Subject leaders regularly redesign and develop their curriculum areas with their teams, ensuring that all lessons and units of work are current, high quality, well sequenced and have clear purpose within the five-year PACA curriculum and beyond. We ensure our students experience a diverse curriculum which enriches their cultural capital by focusing on knowledge of big ideas as well as domain specific and transferable academic and social skills.

A focus on literacy permeates the curriculum from Year 7 onwards. As a school, we encourage reading in every subject, along with an explicit understanding of the characteristic literary styles of different subjects. The development of tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary is made explicit. Talk for writing, disciplinary literacy, structured reading and extended writing are common features of every PACA classroom. We even have Harper the PACA literacy dog who supports with reading in the school library and the Aspirations Centre.

Curriculum intent documents:

PACA English
PACA Maths
PACA Science
PACA Art, Photography and Textiles
PACA Geography
PACA Computer Science


PACA ensures our curriculum is inclusive and fully compliant with the Equality Act 2010 and SEN and Disability Regulations 2014. The range of curriculum, as well as the implementation of this curriculum, mean that ALL students have access to a full and comprehensive curriculum. 


For any enquiries regarding our School Curriculum, please contact: