Curriculum (Living to Learn)

Please select a Subject and Year Group using the menus above to view curriculum details for each year group.

Please use the downloads menu below to view curriculum intent, implementation and impact for each department.  

Further Information

For further information about the curriculum on offer at North Halifax Grammar School (NHGS), please contact Mr D Crossland (Vice Principal - Curriculum & Assessment) -

For information about COVID-19 and the "recovery curriculum" at NHGS, please click on the link under "In this Section". 

Curriculum Intent

The curriculum at North Halifax Grammar School (NHGS) reflects our ethos and aims. It is challenging, broad and balanced and knowledge engaged. At NHGS we believe that E.D. Hirsch is right to argue that knowledge underpins and enables the application of skills; both are entwined. At NHGS we strive for academic excellence and also understand the importance of preparing students for life beyond these walls. Therefore, the curriculum at NHGS is designed to support the Living to Learn, Learning to Live ethos of the school.  

At NHGS we are committed to a broad and balanced curriculum which, in accordance with our funding agreement, must include English, Maths, Science and RPSE. Our curriculum is based on the most up-to-date research and guidance. At NHGS we are quite rightly proud of our curriculum and constantly evaluate its intent, implementation and impact in order to make further improvements.

At NHGS we set out to develop the very best historians, linguists and scientists, etc. Departments challenge students to think, act and behave as those working in their field would.  Primarily we do this by building the academic vocabulary of our students and by ensuring that where possible students complete domain specific tasks. We also ask colleagues to regularly model their own thought processes to students. These metacognitive exercises give our students an insight into how experts in their field would tackle certain pieces of work. We strive for the best and look to impart knowledge and skills beyond national curriculum guidelines and exam specifications.

The curriculum at NHGS goes far beyond what is taught in lessons, for whilst we want students to achieve the very best examination results possible, we believe our curriculum goes beyond what is examinable. At NHGS we strive to be the school everyone wishes they went to. Teachers use their 'hinterland' knowledge (Christine Counsell) to teach beyond the test, enriching students' experiences and engaging students through fascination and challenge. For whilst the ‘taught' or 'lesson based' curriculum is one component, the wider curriculum encompasses the totality of students’ lived experiences at school, starting with the receptionist’s smile and ending...who knows where? Because of this, the school is committed to building the Culture of Capital of all of our students, in particular, the most disadvantaged. 

One of our curriculum strengths is that we help students to know more by remembering more. Learning in all subjects is carefully sequenced to help students recall knowledge. At NHGS we don't believe anything has been learnt unless it has been committed to long term memory. All colleagues are familiar with the five NHGS memory strategies; these are used regularly to help students remember the key knowledge they need to learn. The five strategies are low stakes quizzes, throwback lessons or parts of lessons, live modelling for past exam questions, lagged homework and self-quizzing using knowledge organisers where appropriate. 

Our curriculum forms a backbone to our ethos statement which in turn develops the ideas behind the motto Living to Learn; Learning to Live and identifies the values, qualities and behaviours that we live by in the school.  The letters E, C and M come from two sources, the phrase ‘Every Child Matters’ and from Einstein’s famous quotation E = MC2.  These two sources reflect our belief in the importance of respect for every individual and in our tradition as a specialist science college.

The development of nine key values and their associated behaviours are key to our ever evolving curriculum. Whilst students gain knowledge, we also wish them to become learners who are enquiring, enthusiastic, engaged, creative, confident, co-operative, mindful, motivated and mannerly.

The school curriculum should enable all learners to:

  • Satisfy future economic needs for individuals and for the workforce as a whole, including the development of secure knowledge and skills in communication, literacy and mathematics, and confidence in acquiring new knowledge and skills;
  • Help students to appreciate the national cultures, traditions and values of the UK, whilst recognising diversity and encouraging responsible citizenship;
  • Provide opportunities for participation in a broad range of educational experiences and the acquisition of knowledge and appreciation in the arts, sciences and humanities;
  • Support personal development and empowerment so that each student is able to develop as a healthy, balanced and self-confident individual and fulfil their educational and personal potential.

Of course it is our intention to lay secure foundations for progression into Further and Higher Education and we consider preparation for Sixth Form Advanced Level study to be a key feature of our 11-16 education. Additionally, from the beginning of Year 7, students begin to receive specific careers guidance through RPSE lessons and other sources. This continues throughout school and is a real strength of our curriculum. Our curriculum also includes a wide variety of enrichment activities and extracurricular trips.

Furthermore, lessons are taught by highly qualified staff who are subject experts. Departments are well resourced and have detailed schemes of work across all Key Stages.

The curriculum aims to be accessible to all our students regardless of sex, gender, race, religion, special needs etc. 

The vast majority of our students follow the same academic pathway. We don't feel that a blanket approach which sees students disapplied  from a subject due to their Special Educational Need or Disability is the right course of action. Therefore the majority of our students  access our full curriculum offer, including learning an MFL.  However, inclusivity is built in to our curriculum offer.  We treat each of our students as individuals and when necessary we do adapt the curriculum to suit there individual needs. When we do need to adapt the curriculum we aim to involve all stake holders, this includes the child and their parents.  

Within these parameters, individualised curricula are devised for students with Special Educational Needs who, for whatever reason, are unable to access the full range of subjects. The offer here still remains broad and balanced. 

There is a high retention rate into the Sixth Form, and all students are placed on suitable courses with no students categorised as NEET.

At NHGS we also believe that our curriculum goes beyond what is taught in lessons and we are duly proud of our extracurricular offer. Our co-curriculum aims to provide a wide-range of experiences and the school actively encourages all students to participate in these.  Student Progress Tutors monitor participation of their students and the school surveys students regularly to analyse the levels of take-up of activities by different groups  within the school.