Melksham Oak Learning & Education


Curriculum Rationale and Aims

We are strongly committed to providing a world class learning experience for Melksham Oak students that will enable them to become global citizens. In particular, our school’s curriculum is designed to:

  • be highly ambitious and accessible for all learners;
  • broaden learners’ opportunities and outlooks;
  • equip students with the knowledge and skills required for future success.

Our Academic Curriculum

Our academic curriculum aims to balance breadth and depth of learning. Students are encouraged to move beyond understanding to independence and expertise.

Within each subject, key knowledge and skills are carefully identified and sequenced. Skilful teaching enables learners to develop and progress, both academically and personally, across Key Stages 3 to 5. Ongoing assessment is used to track students’ progress, plan lessons and inform targeted interventions, so that all learners achieve their full potential.

Highly ambitious and accessible for all learners…

As a fully inclusive comprehensive school, we strive to ensure that all learners excel. This includes adapting our curriculum to meet the needs of our SEND students, a small number of whom have core lessons taught through smaller than average nurture groups in Year 7 and Year 8.

At Melksham Oak, all learners are encouraged to have high aspirations. When it comes to choosing exam courses, students are well-supported to make informed decisions through a structured careers programme, which increases their awareness of future educational and employment opportunities.

Further information on how our school complies with our duties in relation to the Equality Act 2010 and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014, including making our curriculum accessible for students with disabilities or special educational needs can be found within our school Accessibility Plan and our Equality and Diversity Policy. Both of these documents are available to view here:

Broadening students’ opportunities and outlooks…

Our intention is to develop global citizens who are ready to overcome the challenges of tomorrow. Our curriculum encourages students to engage with the world around them and to recognise the contribution they can make to their local, national and global communities. The tutorial programme, assemblies and ACORNS days all help to facilitate this through opportunities to hear a diverse range of voices and discuss their own perspectives.

The aim is to equip students with the knowledge and skills they require for future success: personally, academically, in employment and beyond into a fulfilling future.

Our Wider Curriculum

We provide a rich wider curriculum, which incorporates a varied programme of experiences and activities beyond the classroom.

At whole-school level, the wider curriculum includes our termly ACORNS days, during which students follow a programme of year-group specific, cross-curricular and thematic learning. It also includes our tutor and assembly programmes, both of which have a strong values-based foundation - relating to our core values of respect, ambition and pride – and an emphasis upon promoting physical and mental wellbeing.

Within school, we also offer our students the opportunity to join a range of extra-curricular teams, clubs and organisations. These include sports teams which participate in a range of local, regional and, on occasion, national fixtures; Music and Drama clubs; climbing club (using our purpose-built climbing wall) and a kayaking club.

Beyond school, we have offered a range of trips within the UK and beyond, which enhance students’ learning and appreciation for other cultures and traditions. These have previously involved varied destinations, including Berlin (History), Barcelona (Business Studies and Languages), the World War I battlefields (History) and New York (Drama), and other locations as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Each year, our Year 7 students also participate in a range of team and physical challenges during an over-night stay at a camp in Wiltshire - or an adapted version of this within the COVID context. The aim is to help students to bond as a close-knit and supportive tutor-group community.

Overall, our entire curriculum is designed to promote Melksham Oak’s shared values of respect, ambition and pride in everything we do.

Underlying Principles for Curriculum Planning

In order to ensure that we achieve our aims, each subject bases its curriculum planning around a set of key principles. These are outlined in the table, below:

Our curriculum is one which…Our curriculum will achieve this by:

…is broad allowing students to acquire a wide body of knowledge across a range of different subjects and extra-curricular activities.

Our academic curriculum enables students to experience a wide range of different subjects and disciplines. Breadth will be further increased by moving from a two to a three-year KS3 curriculum model from September 2021.

Our wider curriculum incorporates extra-curricular activities, designed to enhance and extend students’ learning experiences.

…allows students to acquire the most powerful knowledge which, in turn, enhances their cultural capital.

Each subject will carefully consider and include the most important and challenging content within their discipline. We want all students to be exposed to the key cultural, social and functional knowledge and skills to allow them to fully partake in modern society.

encourage students to develop a deep understanding of powerful knowledge and a confident grasp of facilitating skills, particularly literacy and numeracy.

Students will have the opportunity to apply their learning to a range of contexts – both theoretical and practical.

In particular, we recognise the importance of developing students’ facilitating literacy skills. As well as building in literacy links across the curriculum, there is a targeted reading programme designed to support students who start Melksham Oak with lower than age-related expectations in English to catch-up with their peers.

…enables progress through a carefully sequenced curriculum.

This allows key concepts, knowledge and themes to be revisited and built upon whilst becoming increasingly more challenging.

…is appropriately challenging, because it builds upon prior learning to ensure that students gain incrementally more complex understanding.

With Key Stage 2 now being more challenging, our Key Stage 3 curriculum needs to reflect this in terms of its demands on students. This requires understanding of what is covered at primary school and how subjects can build upon this.

In addition, our Key Stage 4 and 5 curricula are planned to ensure that they draw upon prior learning and prepare students to succeed in future education and employment.

…promotes knowledge retention and transfer across a range of contexts

Knowing more plus remembering more, or doing more = progress.

Subjects have a responsibility to support each other in the delivery of knowledge e.g. making common key concepts or themes explicit in Science and Maths, or History, English and Drama.

…is exciting and through which teachers have high expectations of what students can achieve, leading to the raising of students’ own ambitions

We will raise our expectations and students’ aspirations, so that they achieve their full potential. In turn, this will contribute to higher academic outcomes.

… prepares students for a successful life in modern Britain and as global citizens, allowing them to make safe, informed and responsible decisions

This goal can be seen as acquiring the best qualifications possible. In addition, however, it is about the wider benefits of a well-constructed curriculum such as effective CIEAG, SMSC & PSHE which helps engender British values such as tolerance of different cultures and religions. At Melksham Oak, this includes supporting students to develop core values of respect, ambition and pride.

What do Melksham Oak students study at each Key Stage?

Information can be found on each Key Stage by following the separate links within the menu on the left of the screen for:



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