Curriculum offer rationale:

The curriculum at Cathays High is designed to meet the broad range of needs that students have within the context of our community. It is reviewed annually to ensure that it is effective in meeting the needs of our context. We ensure that all are challenged and stretched through curriculum and enrichment opportunities whilst ensuring that those who need additional help are supported to make progress and achieve. Our Summer Timetable provides a space for more creative and collaborative learning to take place for all students and particularly those in years 7 to 9.


Our curriculum is adapted for young people who require additional support to suit their learning needs. We have a specialist New Arrivals provision for students who are developing their English language skills in Years 7-11, that provides opportunities to study Maths, Science, Humanities and PE as well as a significant focus on English. In Year 7,  our Learning Pathways programme provides a bespoke curriculum for identified students to focus on developing vocabulary, emotional wellbeing and IDP targets in a smaller group environment for part of their curriculum time. Many of these young people also receive intensive literacy and numeracy interventions as part of this programme.


Work on developing a vision for the implementation of the Curriculum for Wales at Cathays began in summer 2019 and was shared in draft form with staff during INSET in September 2020. It was amended and refined during the course of the last three years following discussions with different stakeholders including governors,  the senior management team, teachers, pupils and parents.


Our curriculum vision statement is as follows:


A broad, balanced and highly effective curriculum that ensures the development of the knowledge, skills and wellbeing of all learners. It will: challenge all learners appropriately; develop our pupils’ sense of their identity locally, nationally and globally; be responsive to the needs, experiences and input of learners; and promote opportunities for all.


As part of our preparation for trialling new curriculum content during 2021/22, a wide range of pupil voice responses on the curriculum vision and possible content was sought during the summer term of 2021. Feedback was shared with all staff in September 2021 to inform area planning for new curriculum design.


The ongoing work of developing the content of our new curriculum across all areas allows us to ensure we realise this vision. As part of curriculum design:


  • Our school leaders and teachers undertook reading, research and attended professional learning on the new curriculum, including meetings with pioneer schools and a range of other organisations.
  • New curriculum leads developed a checklist to ensure that new curriculum planning is a regular feature of INSET and staff meetings at all levels and to ensure a consistent focus in curriculum design. This includes focus on the Four Purposes and the What Matters Statements and Progression Steps for each AOLE.
  • Our whole staff team agreed key features of our school context, pupils and community to inform the approaches and experiences best suited for the needs of all learners at our school and considering the four purposes.
  • We have put teaching and learning approaches at the heart of curriculum development leading to the development of the Cathays 5 as a foundation for lesson planning, evaluation and the ongoing professional learning of all staff.
  • Through work in area teams and whole-school INSET, all staff have been engaged and involved in identifying and implementing the necessary changes to our current cultures, provision and practices. This has included: discussion of what cynefin means in our context and how local, national and global contexts will be addressed across all areas of learning and experience; planning curriculum provision with a focus on the experiences and contributions of BAME people; and planning for the effective implementation of the literacy, numeracy and digital skills frameworks across all areas.
  • Teachers have worked with staff from partner primaries to develop new approaches to transition to support the development of the new curriculum and meetings have taken place at senior leadership level to start to plan further curriculum development. This will ensure clearer progression along the 3-16 continuum.
  • The school has begun to develop new approaches to sharing information with parents/carers on the curriculum and ways they can support their child within and outside of the school environment.
  • The school collaborates and consults with a range of providers from the local and wider community on providing learners with distinct and enriching experiences including religion, values and ethics (RVE) and careers and work related experiences (CWRE).


Our curriculum vision is supported by a clear outline of how we intend to ensure new curriculum design meets the demands of the Four Purposes: 

Our school curriculum is suitable for all learners and will enable them to realise the four purposes. It takes account of and responds to the unique opportunities and challenges that present themselves to individuals and groups of learners in our school. Our school curriculum is broad and balanced and includes learning opportunities within and across all of the areas of learning and experience. It encompasses the concepts in all of the statements of what matters and provides appropriate progression in accord with the principles of progression. It also aligns to the mandatory requirements of teaching Welsh, English and Religion, Values and Ethics (RVE). The mandatory elements of Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) and the cross curricular skills of literacy, numeracy and digital competence are embedded throughout the curriculum.


Our curriculum at Cathays High School is a purpose-led curriculum with learner progression at its heart. At Cathays, our curriculum will aim to obtain a holistic picture of the learner – their strengths, the ways in which they learn, and their areas for development. Learners will be greatly involved in their own progression and will have a clear understanding of how to improve. We want our pupils to know what they are learning, how and why. Our pupils will be confident, independent individuals who will experience excellent teaching and learning and will be ready for the next step in their journey. As part of this commitment we make assessment for learning a core principle of teaching and learning (as one of the Cathays 5) and ensure effective approaches to afl form the basis of robust teacher judgements about learner progress.


Assessment at Cathays supports teachers in identifying the progress being made by an individual learner, and recording this, where appropriate, to understand their journey over different periods of time and in a variety of ways. This includes developing an understanding of how a learner has learned, as well as what they have learned and are able to demonstrate. Reflecting on a learner’s progress over time enables teachers to provide feedback and help plan future learning, including any interventions, additional support or challenge which may be required. This includes both immediate next steps and longer-term objectives and goals that the learner should work towards to help keep them moving forward in their learning.

In order to keep our new curriculum development consistently under review, evaluation of progress will continue to take place regularly at whole-school and area levels starting in the Summer Term of 2022.  Throughout the year there will be a variety of self-evaluation activities to inform our understanding of the effectiveness of our curriculum and the required revision, to ensure it meets our vision and the needs of our learners.  We will work within our school, across the cluster and in partnership with governors, the regional consortia, the local authority to further develop a shared understanding of progression and to ensure a high-quality 3-16 continuum of learning for all. Important next steps that are a priority for the first year of our new curriculum implementation are:


  • Get feedback from parents/carers and further input from pupils and governors, regarding the new curriculum vision and provision being developed.
  • Area teams to evaluate the new curriculum provision developed for Year 7 during 2021/22 ready for formal implementation during the next academic year and to begin the process of developing new curriculum provision in Year 8.
  • Continue to work with partner primaries to develop new approaches to sharing best practice and achieving greater consistency in teaching and assessment for the new curriculum

In KS4, we provide a significant commitment to the core subjects as these provide  a clear pathway to many careers as well as to further and higher education. There is a clear expectation that all students complete Welsh, Religious Studies and the WBQ to full GCSE level as we believe these to provide valuable knowledge, skills and experiences to equip them for the world beyond school in our local, national and international community. They are popular with the students in our community and valued highly. Option choices are built from student’s free choice to ensure that pupils learn the subjects that interest them. PSE and Careers lessons form part of the WBQ  curriculum and the tutorial programme. We aim to motivate and inspire students with enjoyable learning experiences that cover a broad range of subjects.


In KS4, young people vulnerable to under-acheivement will have a more tailored and bespoke approach to the curriculum to ensure they achieve the best possible grades across core subjects and a wide range of options. Their curriculum is often enhanced through time at external providers who work towards vocational qualifications and provide experiences and skills which many opt to pursue post-16. Careers education is important to supporting these young people into their onward learning journey.


At KS5, we offer a very broad curriculum to meet the needs of all young people in our community. At Level 3 we offer traditional A-Levels and vocational A-Levels which are enhanced by our partnership with St. David’s College for the few students who wish to remain with us but study a subject that we are unable to offer. We provide a GCSE resit programme at Level 2 for students from across the city including many who have been at other Cardiff schools for KS4. We offer a comprehensive post-16 ESOL programme from Entry Level 1 to Level 1 which meets the needs of 16-19 year olds arriving in the city with little or no English. The ESOL courses are also supplemented by Entry Level qualifications in Maths, Science and Humanities and a broad range of enrichment opportunities.



KS4 options

Options are built around the initial free choices of pupils during Year 9

Current Year 10

Option A Option B Option C
Triple Science Business studies Triple Science
Business Studies Sociology Sociology
Geography Art Art
Sport IT History
Computer Science Food
Drama Health and Social Care Music
Resistant Materials Textiles Spanish
Extended Ops Extended Ops Extended ops
Option A Option B Option C


Current Year 11

Option A Option B  Option C
Triple Science Health and Social care Art & Design
Resistant Materials 1 Resistant Materials Food
History Geography Textiles
Spanish Sport Computer Science
Drama Music History
Business Art & Design Sociology
Resistant Materials 2 Extended ops ICT
Extended ops 0 Extended ops


Allocation of hours listed above

KS5 options

  Option A Option B Option C Option D Option E
  Tues am, Weds pm Weds am, Fri pm Mo am, Thus pm, Thurs am, Mon pm Fri am, Tues pm
English resit x1
Maths resit x1
Medical Science
Business Studies
Health & social Care
A2 Art
Business Studies
Further Maths
Health & Social Care
Medical Science
WBQ History
GCSE Resit Science English x4 Art
Media Studies
Maths x4 WBQ



10/11 hours – Option subjects x3
6 hours  – WBQ
10 hours  – Option subjects x 3
2 hours  – WBQ
GCSE restart
4 hours – WBQ
5 hours – Options
AJW – Early Entry English – English, Games, Humanities, Maths and Science (51)
DK2 – English, Games, Humanities, Maths, Science and Technology (53)




RSE Update for parents (November 2022)

We are currently undertaking a comprehensive review of our policy and resources for Relationships and Sex Education over the course of the first 2 terms of this 2022-23 academic year.

A link to our current policy is below. We plan to review this when additional information and guidance is published by the Welsh Government and the outcome of the judicial review is known later this term.

.RSE Policy

As part of the new Curriculum for Wales, we understand the need to help all of our young people to excel in all aspects of life, so they grow into adults who are healthy, confident individuals. Education should encourage and support young people to respect themselves and others, to keep themselves safe from harm, to value diversity, and give them the ability to build healthy, respectful relationships. RSE is about protecting children’s rights.

The national requirements for RSE have been developed with teachers and a range of groups, including: the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, NSPCC, Welsh Women’s aid and people of faith. At Cathays High School, we aim to develop our resources around this framework and to ensure that we maintain a positive dialogue with parents and guardians to ensure that all stakeholders are fully informed of our approach.

The new Year 7 curriculum (started at Cathays High School in September 2022) will include Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) in the Summer Term 2023. In Year 7, the focus will be on friendships and healthy relationships. The Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) Code provides detail for schools and settings on what must be taught and when.  Great care will be taken at Cathays High School to ensure that all learning within RSE will be age appropriate. Please see below for information on which RSE topics are being taught to each year group.

The statutory guidance is very clear that schools are expected to work closely with parents to make sure they understand what their children are learning. “Schools and settings should have clear lines of communication in relation to RSE and should engage with learners, parents, carers and the wider community with learning and teaching in RSE.”  (Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) Information for Schools, Settings, Parents and Carers – Welsh Government publication)

We aim to keep parents and carers fully aware of what is being learned and why, with opportunitIes for questions and clarification. The RSE Code has been published to give parents and carers clarity and transparency about what their children will learn and when.

Topics like online safety, consent and sexual health are all included in the Code at appropriate stages of learning so young people are not exposed to things that are inappropriate to their age and development.

Learning in RSE will also include recognising, understanding and speaking out about all forms of discrimination, violence, abuse and neglect and to seek support and advice on a range of issues from trusted sources. RSE is also legally required to be objective, critical and pluralistic: meaning schools and settings must provide factual information and on questions of values, a range of views on a given subject, commonly held within society.

Some useful links for parents are below:

A guide to the new Curriculum for Wales

Cross-cutting themes for designing your curriculum – Hwb

Relationships and sexuality education

Our current RSE programme is below – these are topics that have been delivered for a significant period of time and parents/carers have had the right to withdraw students from any sex education aspect of this provision.


Year Group  RSE Topics
7 RelationshipsBullyingHealthy RelationshipsPersonal safetySocial media safetySchool Liaison Officer talk on inappropriate use of text messages Peer pressureRights – Gender, Equity and PowerRights of the Child UNCRC
8 RelationshipsPositive Relationships Online relationships- staying safe
9 RelationshipsSTIsContraceptionSextingHarmful stereotypes
10 FGM – violence against women Inappropriate text messages and social media use Consent
11 STIs and contraception Domestic abuseHarmful stereotypes

RSE is delivered by staff in the school’s Health and Wellbeing team. These members of staff are experienced and meet regularly to discuss the curriculum and lesson resources. Members of the team will be reviewing our current policy and resources in the light of the new curriculum (for Year 7 this year) and further advice given by the Welsh Government. Because of this, we do not intend to deliver aspects of the RSE framework such as sex education until the Summer Term. Members of the team will be attending a number of additional training events around aspects of the RSE curriculum over the next 2 terms to further develop expertise.

We occasionally share the delivery of aspects of our RSE curriculum with external specialists. For example our Police Liaison Officer delivers lessons on social media use and Domestic Abuse and Spectrum deliver lessons on healthy relationships and staying safe.

If your child is learning under the National Curriculum (Currently years 8-11), you continue to have the right to withdraw your child from sex and relationships education. The right to withdraw does not apply to any learning related to this matter which is within the national curriculum programme of study for Science.