Middle School Curriculum Reform 2027

Exciting news about our plans for our school curriculum in the coming years.

As you know Latymer has always been at the forefront and vanguard of educational thinking.

We are sharing some exciting news about what we are planning for our middle school curriculum (Years 9-11), and in particular our proposals to provide something better than the current national GCSE provision.  

It is important to say that we are always very proud of the work and achievements of our students each year in national GCSE exams (again this summer 94% of grades achieved were grades 7-9).  We continue to teach to the highest possible levels in our middle school and Latymer teachers stretch and challenge students well beyond the curriculum; and our students work hard and deliver fantastic results.  However, for some time we have been concerned that GCSE examinations in their current form do not best suit or meet the needs of our Latymer students, and of course especially in a school like ours where students stay through to 18 and take A levels.  GCSEs as they currently stand confine and stifle our students’ learning; they remain narrow and marked according to rigid and limiting mark schemes; they reward rote learning rather than deep or original thinking; and they do not effectively teach students core skills sought after by employers in the modern workplace (skills such as critical thinking, resilience, collaboration, creativity and problem solving).

For the past four years we have been researching and consulting at the highest educational levels (universities, employers, fellow educationalists, colleagues, parents and students themselves) on how best to provide a more robust and relevant educational offering in our middle school (Years 9-11). As a consequence of this rigorous research we have taken the decision to replace GCSE exams (except for Maths and English Language) with our own internally-assessed courses for students in Year 10 from 2027.  This will be the year group joining us in September 2024.  And the coming four years give us the time and opportunity to develop further the work that has begun on our enriching and exciting new curriculum.

Students will still follow a scholarly curriculum which will stretch all learners to their full potential and in which traditional subjects such as Science, Geography, History, Classics, Modern Languages, etc are taught to the highest levels in long courses (a little like the time we currently give to a GCSE subject).  In addition we will also be developing short courses, like the electives that we currently run in the Sixth Form, which will be interdisciplinary, dynamic and creative.

One of the most exciting aspects of our new curriculum model will be our ability to assess our students in a more relevant and meaningful way.  By assessing work through alternative methods such as vivas, group work tasks, open-book assessments, presentations, online testing, as well as traditional written examinations, our students will be more informed and involved in their own progress at a critical time in their school career.  

This reform will prepare students better for the world of work and for life outside the school gates.  We will avoid the stress and anxiety of perceived high-stakes exams at a time when teenagers are still undergoing brain development and huge changes at the age of 16.  And of course we are aware of mental health concerns in young people.  Our research and work show a huge demand for change and we are delighted to be one of the schools which is leading the way.

In the interim we will continue to provide a first-class education to all students at Latymer regardless of which exams they will sit with us.  Our A Level provision remains superb and results continue to rise year on year.  We have no plans to alter our A Level provision.

Latymer has always been, and continues to be, a forward-thinking centre of excellence where we put the education of our students front and centre.  This is the exciting next step in our journey and we look forward to updating you in due course as our plans for implementing our curriculum reform progress. 

Do watch our film explaining much of our thinking.

Karen Dove
Author: Karen Dove

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