Upper School

Curriculum Overview- Upper School

At St. Dominic’s, our focus is on facilitating quality opportunities for pupils and students to learn and make progress. All students follow a programme of study based on the National Curriculum, and adapted to suit their individual needs and to help meet the outcomes of their Education, Health and Care Plan. Pupils learn about themselves, use their strengths, and practise the skills they need support with. We aim for our pupils to gain a wide and comprehensive knowledge base, which prepares them to face life after St Dominic’s with a growth mind-set.

What are the curriculum pathways?

The Upper School curriculum is designed so pupils can follow a personalised programme of study at Key Stage 3 and 4. This is to ensure that all pupils are able to achieve the best qualifications they can, given their own areas of strength. In each programme of study, pupils and students can follow pathways that ensures they receive a tailored curriculum that meets their individual needs and aspirations. All pathways build towards a broad range of qualifications which may include GCSEs, BTEC, Laser and Functional Skills. Our three curriculum pathways are:

  • The Discover Pathway (years 9 – 11)
  • The Endeavour Pathway (years 9 – 11)
  • The Innovate Pathway (additional pathway for years 10-11)


The Discover Pathway




The Discover Pathway places a greater emphasis on the Needs Led Curriculum to support independence outcomes for pupils in Year 10 and 11 alongside the National Curriculum, supporting them to achieve greater skills for independence, communication, learning, self-development and enrichment. The Discover Pathway offers greater flexibility and can offer a more challenging academic route or a more Needs Led Curriculum (NLC) approach depending on the individual’s needs. Pupils typically work towards and achieve a range of portfolio-based qualifications and, in some cases, GCSE and BTEC qualifications.

We aim for all our pupils in Upper School to be challenged to gain achievable Entry Level and where possible Level 1 or Level 2 GCSE or BTEC qualifications. Pupils remain in their registration group for most of the working day and will learn English, Maths, Science and Humanities with a core team of teaching staff who use their knowledge of the pupils to make the learning bespoke to their needs.

Pupils will transition around different classrooms for some of their specialist subjects to ensure stretch and challenge. This also allows pupils to become more resilient with interactions with more staff. There are specialist learning opportunities for pupils in the Upper School with Home Cooking Skills, Design and Technology, Art, Performing Arts, Computing skills and PE lessons. Here they will learn skills that are used in their lives more frequently as they get older.

The Endeavour Pathway

The Endeavour Pathway offers a more challenging academic route that gives pupils access to a maximum of 9 GCSEs.

This pathway places a greater emphasis on the National Curriculum to support academic outcomes in preparation for further education. In Year 10, pupils work towards and typically achieve a broad range of GCSE and some BTEC qualifications by Year 11.

We aim for all our pupils in Upper School to be challenged to gain as many achievable accreditations as possible, from Entry Level all the way to Level 2 GCSE or BTEC qualifications. The options available are dependent on pupil uptake and are subject to change. Pupils will transition around different classrooms for all their specialist subjects to ensure they receive teaching from professionals.

The Innovate Pathway




The Innovate Pathway offers access to 3-5 GCSEs and allows space on the timetable to practice skills for employment. This pathway places greater emphasis on creative and vocational qualifications to support training and employment outcomes. Pupils typically achieve a broad range of qualifications including functional skills, BTEC, Laser and some GCSEs. Pupils will transition around different classrooms for all their specialist subjects to ensure stretch and challenge.

The main difference in the Innovate pathway is that it is focussed on the needs and interests of the pupil and the employment they seek in their future. Every week they will have employment-based curriculum time. An example is that a pupil received catering-based work experience to support their aspirations to go to catering college.

What lessons are offered?

Subject The Discovery Pathway

Year 9- 11

The Endeavour Pathway

Year 9

The Endeavour Pathway

Year 10-11

The Innovate Pathway

Year 10- 11

English 4 5 5 5
Maths 4 5 5 5
Double Science/ Biology/

ELC Science

3 3 5 or 3 3
Computing 2 2 2 2
NLC including PSHE 5 3 3 2
Core PE 3 3 2 2
Art 1 1 Offered as options subjects*
DT 1 1
Home Cooking 1 1
Performing Arts 1 1
Forest School 1 1
Humanities / Topic 2 2
Work Experience 5
Leisure curriculum 1 1 1 1


*Range of options subjects:


BTEC Level 1 introductory in art

Design &Technology GCSE

History GCSE

Construction BTEC

First in Sport BTEC

Home cooking skills BTEC

Performing Arts BTEC

Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award


What extra-curricular learning is available?

Every Friday pupils will be able to select a Leisure Curriculum activity, which offers a range of experiences all aimed at improving pupils’ self-esteem, life skills and communication skills.

Options could include Basketball, Football, Chess, Walking, Art, Dungeons and Dragons, Pokémon Planet, MFL and Den building.

We also offer peripatetic music sessions through the ‘Rocksteady’ organisation. These sessions and give pupils the chance to be in a band, perform songs they love and learn life skills


My Son has made incredible progress emotionally and applies himself much better academically. The mentoring aspect is key to his progress.



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