We believe that our school has a broad and balanced curriculum which promotes the academic, personal, social and physical development of all pupils and prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life.
For a more in-depth report on our curriculum offer, please click on the headings below.
Vision and Purpose
We are a fiercely aspirational school. The opportunity to educate our young people is a very special privilege and it is one that we take extremely seriously. We believe that the best education is one that builds on the knowledge and discoveries made by those that have preceded us. By sharing that knowledge and those discoveries we will prepare our students to take their place as the next generation of adults, able to think about and address the global challenges that we face, armed with the evidence and equipped with the skills.
We believe that a successful environment for learning is one that both excites and inspires, as well as one that stimulates a real thirst for knowledge and a continual quest for self improvement. We value the learning that takes place not just within the classroom, but outside it as well. In this way we can be sure that our students will develop as happy, productive and successful young people with a clear sense of moral purpose.
We know that our job is to help our students to achieve outstanding academic success. We also understand that we must support them in making sense of the increasingly complex world that we live in today and teach them how they can improve it both for themselves and for future generations
We value the strong links we have built with our community and we listen to our community to make sure that what we do reflects the individual needs of all those that are a part of it. We continually adapt our provision to meet new or emerging needs and we deliver our curriculum taking account of the very best in current educational thinking.
We expect our staff and our students to strive for excellence in everything that they do and we all celebrate and share in each other’s successes. ‘Committed to Excellence’, a recent addition to our historic motto, embraces this core school principle.
We take pride in the vibrant, culturally rich and socially and ethnically diverse inner city area of London that our school serves. Our provision is carefully tailored to ensure that the needs of all these groups are met. Everything that we do is underpinned by a commitment to inclusion which ensures that everyone, whatever their background or ability, can make outstanding progress.
We know that successful schools are places where staff want to work and where students want to learn. We make sure this is true in our school through a framework of core principles that are embraced by the whole school community.
Traditional values in a modern world
We teach our students to be respectful, thoughtful and tolerant young people, who participate actively in our school community within a framework of rules that are clear and well understood and that reflect the social and judicial systems that apply in our wider society. The motto of one of our founding schools - ‘Obtinete Honesta’ – which translates as ‘hold fast to that which is good’ – sums up why these traditional values continue to matter to us in our changing world.
Universal high aspiration
We are a fiercely aspirational school. We nurture a climate where students are stimulated and inspired not just by their teachers but by each other as well.
We believe it is our job to make sure that, wherever a student’s potential lies, we can discover it, support it then develop and celebrate it. We think that everyone should be encouraged and enabled to develop their knowledge, exercise their creativity, stretch their personal boundaries and learn resilience within a safe and nurturing environment.
We believe that there is no ceiling on aspiration and that all our students should expect to leave school having achieved much more than they thought they could when they started.
A broad curriculum
All our students have access to the National Curriculum at KS3 and many students are able to extend their learning even further. We know that breadth at this level ensures that later choices for everyone are as wide as they can possibly be. Our Key Stage 4 provision builds on this broad foundation and students embark on a tailored package of study designed to match their aspiration and ability. In the context of continuing pressure on curriculum time, we are proud of the fact that we continue to provide all our students with both PSHCE (Personal Social Health and Citizens Education) and Religious Studies as part of the taught curriculum. In addition students have access to three European language choices as well as the opportunity to study other more specialist subjects such as Mandarin, Latin and Astronomy.
Similarly, at Key Stage 5, we provide an exceptionally wide range of A level subjects, complemented by a programme of applied level 3 courses as an alternative to a traditional A level timetable.
We celebrate student successes in public exams, but the real purpose of this continuum of provision is that it prepares students for the widest possible range of post school destinations. Having completed their study with us, our students access places at some of the world’s most prestigious universities. Many of our alumni, both those participating in the higher education system and the small number that choose to go straight from school into employment are highly visible in a wide range of high profile roles.
An inclusive and student centred curriculum
We believe that all of our students can make outstanding progress regardless of their background and ability and we are proud that our Public Examination outcomes and progression routes demonstrate this to be the case.
We believe in a tailored approach to curriculum design and delivery and despite the size of our school, we practice flexibility wherever possible. This approach means that students can expect their individual subject preferences to be met at both Key Stage 4 and 5, without the timetabling constraints that could otherwise prove a barrier to some subject combinations. They can also expect their chosen suite of subjects to be delivered such that stretch and challenge is appropriate to their ability.
All students are taught a core body of knowledge. The more able then have the opportunity to achieve further depth, stretch and challenge and where students need additional support, this is provided. This means that all our students receive provision designed to meet their particular ability and aspiration.
We know that decisions made at key transition points all help to shape a student’s choices in the future so we make sure that our students are supported in making highly informed decisions at each stage.
We believe that all Graveney students who have a chance to succeed in our sixth form should be given the opportunity to do so. Our generous sixth form entry policy ensures that the vast majority of our students remain with us for A level or other Level 3 courses and the vast majority of these make good or outstanding progress.
Beyond the classroom
We believe in developing our pupils beyond academic success. We expect and support them to participate and do well in a range of creative, performance, outdoor and sporting activities so that, wherever their skills and interests lie, they can excel. This wide ranging provision is an essential ingredient that contributes substantially to the cohesive and harmonious community that we know as the ‘Graveney Family’. By participating in these activities, students can realise their ambitions in a wide range of areas (e.g. music, drama or sport) and can work at the highest possible levels outside the confines of a strictly qualifications related course of study if they wish.
We know that outdoor education has a particularly important role to play in developing character, resilience and independence – personal characteristics fundamental to success in all walks of life. We are proud to be one of the largest school based providers of the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme, which forms part of the extensive outdoor education programme that our students embark on in Year 7 and continue throughout their school career with us.
Graveney has been judged as Outstanding in five Ofsted inspections over 25 years and is highly regarded by the local community. We believe we achieve this result through a relentless focus on self improvement and through working to ensure that all students receive an excellent education that enables them to progress. These principles are shared with and put into practice by the whole school staff - whatever their role.
Our governance structure as part of a multi-academy trust ensures that the Graveney Governing Body is free to focus fully on core school activities and in particular on curriculum provision, standards and student and staff welfare. There are robust monitoring and review processes in place. We welcome the level of expertise that governors bring as well as their ability to challenge and hold the school to account on all these matters.
We listen to our staff, parents and students through regular surveys and consultations so that our whole community is engaged in our improvement planning. We review carefully any requirements or proposals for change, whether generated from inside or outside the school, and respond in a considered manner, having taken account of the views of our community, to ensure that any change that is required is implemented within the context of our school values and structures.
Traditional values in a modern world
A student’s education at Graveney is based on the key values of tolerance, democracy and individual freedom tempered by a proper respect for authority and for each other. These traditions have served the school since its formation in 1669. Over 350 years later we believe these remain relevant today. These values are fully embedded in the delivery of the curriculum as well as through the wider curriculum that takes place outside the taught timetable, in the following ways:
Behaviour systems have been designed to ensure that the learning environment is harmonious and students can thrive. Students understand their roles and responsibilities within the school; when these are not met actions are taken that enable them to reflect on their behaviour and support is provided to remedy their attitude and approach. Restorative Justice is used as a mechanism for students to take responsibility for their actions, to give them an opportunity to redeem themselves and discourage them from causing further harm.
Tutor time and assemblies are used to reinforce our values and ensure that all students can play their part fully within the ‘Graveney family’ and the wider community. Tutors remain with their tutor group throughout the full five years (to the end of Year 11) to build strong and lasting relationships and provide continuous guidance for their development.
Within the Graveney curriculum, all students will be taught PSHCE (Personal Social Health and Citizens Education) within their timetable by a subject specialist. We believe that in a constantly evolving and complex world, this provision is vital for the development of our students. The content taught in each year has been specifically designed to meet our students’ individual needs as they develop into young adults; however there are themes which run across key stages which are taught at age appropriate levels such as drugs, relationships, use of social media, finance and mental health. At Key Stage 5 students participate in a pre-university programme with a wide range of components (for example economic awareness, study skills and citizenship) which prepares them for life after school. Although all students will cover the core content, there is flexibility within these programmes of study to ensure current issues that are prevalent in the outside world are dealt with in a sensitive and effective manner. We believe this PSHCE programme enables students to develop fully as individuals and as members of their families and social and economic communities.
Universal high aspirations
At the heart of all systems, structures and decisions made at Graveney lies a very clear aim: to develop our students into happy and productive adults. Having high expectations of all students at all times is imperative to students’ success and an effectively functioning school, whether those expectations relate to their academic progress, punctuality, standards of uniform or how students interact with staff and each other. Consequently we expect all staff to consistently challenge students to meet these high standards.
At all Key Stages, we believe in systems which promote, reward and challenge students to make outstanding progress. We emphasise to students the importance of reaching and exceeding their own individual targets rather than comparing themselves to their peers. Students are set targets that are challenging but achievable provided the work ethic is right. Time is allocated during tutor time for students to reflect on their progress and identify subjects and strategies which need improving. Systems of intervention are embedded in every year group for those students who require extra support. These interventions are regularly reviewed and refined to ensure we use our resources as effectively as possible.
We support students to push their personal boundaries through encouraging their participation in out of school activities that they may not be naturally attracted to. We use our pupil premium funding to ensure that, where there is a cost associated with a particular activity (for example, instrumental music tuition and outward bound activities including Duke of Edinburgh) this is provided free to ensure that everyone can be part of an activity that they may not otherwise be able to consider.
We support staff in developing their professional expertise by giving them the freedom to extend and deliver their teaching beyond the required core body of knowledge in ways that they devise for themselves. Staff are supported through carefully constructed accountability systems and high quality continuing professional development and the freedom from central proscription is highly valued by our teachers.
We maintain momentum in embedding an aspirational approach through regular communication to parents and carers about their child’s progress. All parents receive regular reports of how well their son/daughter is accessing the curriculum. In addition to this all students have two Parents Evenings per year as we know that face to face contact is vital to feedback key messages. Further communication is offered through our Parent App which provides information on student achievements which can then be discussed at home as well as providing easy access to other school administrative documents and letters. .
Regular rewards for students and celebration of their successes are essential in promoting a positive culture of student development. This is achieved in a variety of ways including; :
- Annual Awards ceremonies for each Key Stage,
- A Key Stage 3 Graduation Programme that provides incentives to perform well both academically and in terms of personal development and acts as a rite of passage to Key Stage 4
- Supported entry to many local and national competitions and prizes and celebration of successes through news articles and school twitter
- Awards issued through daily achievement points and termly certificates and prizes
A broad curriculum
At Key Stage 3 our students study a full breadth of subjects to ensure that they have access to an extensive range of academic and creative disciplines. We also believe in the importance of students studying this complete range of subjects until the end of Year 9 so that they can make the most informed and therefore appropriate choices of their future subjects.
At Key Stage 4 students embark on a pathway based on their academic ability and career aspirations following guided discussions between themselves, their parents and their teachers. These pathways are differentiated based on the number of GCSEs they will take and the number of hours they will have studying English and Mathematics. This structure enables us to personalise the curriculum to the needs of the students and ensure that they make the most progress across all of their subjects.
We intend that the vast majority of our students will follow a curriculum with the full suite of EBacc subjects as we recognise the value they have on future employment. Indeed students can choose to study both History and Geography as well as the choice of three modern foreign languages. We have consistently invested in our Languages department as we believe that the acquisition of a second language helps instil tolerance and gives students an important understanding of other cultures and societies as well as preparing them well for an increasingly global employment market.
We are also proud of the wide selection of Arts and creative subjects on offer to students and we have protected these as we recognise their value in developing the whole child. Students also have the opportunity to study additional twilight subjects in Astronomy and Mandarin.
Key Stage 5, students study either 3 or 4 level 3 Courses (AS-Levels or BTECs) from a range of 26 different qualifications. This huge range of subjects enables students to choose their own personalised pathway and we are proud that we can cater for almost every combination of subjects that students may select. We tailor our offer to students based upon their prior attainment at Key Stage 4: the highest ability have the option of studying 4 AS-Levels (which they may reduce to 3 at any point). To support our comprehensive intake we also provide BTEC qualifications as an alternative to a full A level timetable.
An inclusive curriculum
Outstanding schools require outstanding teachers; we therefore relentlessly focus on developing our staff to be expert practitioners. We provide regular staff training which is based on current educational research as well as on our continuous analysis of staff professional development needs. This ensures that our teachers keep abreast of the pedagogical strategies that will enable all our students to be successful and to translate these into fully inclusive classroom practices.
We recognise that different classes and individuals within them will require personalised strategies to meet their needs. Our staff have the skills and expertise to deliver high quality lessons to students of all ages and abilities which means we can give them substantial freedom with respect to their approaches in the classroom. Our teaching and learning policy is thus based on the “Tight but Loose” approach and the six principles of explanation, questioning, modelling, practice, challenge and feedback. Teachers use these principles to ensure teaching meets the needs of all students. Through the quality of our teaching we expect students to develop into independent learners. To enable this, we actively teach and promote “Habits of Mind”, the 16 attributes of high achieving individuals such as resilience, persistence, risk taking etc.
Teaching is regularly monitored through observations and lessons visits, within departments and across the school. We encourage peer observation to share and spread good practice. Student surveys for KS4 and KS5 classes provide in depth and insightful feedback for teachers. All of this information is to inform INSED needs and to develop individual teachers.
Every subject will have their own Scheme of Work and these will all contain the following elements:
- The curriculum builds upon the teaching and learning at Key Stage 2 to ensure that there is an effective transition into Key Stage 3.
- Learning in all subjects is sequenced and builds on prior learning to ensure progression
- Learning is focused on ensuring pupils learn and retain what they should know at each stage of their school career
- Students are supported to develop an awareness and understanding of their own thought processes which is underpinned by a Habits of Mind programme so that when they leave their metacognition is well developed and they can continue on as independent and lifelong learners
- Subject curricula prepare students for the next phase of learning as well as inspiring their curiosity beyond this goal and developing their love of learning.
- Subjects have defined a specific body of knowledge that all students should know and understand to ensure that they have the fundamental knowledge to enable them to progress.
- Students are assessed regularly in many formats (summative and formative) and this helps the teacher to shape future learning and inform reports which we regularly send home.
- Subjects are viewed as individual disciplines taught by subject experts and tailored to meet the needs of all pupils. However where there are links between subjects these are exploited.
An overview of each subject curriculum at all key stages is shared on the school website to enable parents and carers to understand the content and support the learning of our students.
The House System contributes substantially to our arrangements for securing inclusion with students at all Key Stages able to collaborate within our large and diverse community outside of their usual groupings. Through competitions, social events and a range of other activities students from Years 7 - 11 who would otherwise never get the opportunity to work together build new relationships and expand their horizons.
At Key Stage 3, we place students in one of 3 Bands based on academic ability – Extension, Enrichment and Endeavour, so that we can best support their needs to make progress. All students follow the same curriculum content, however this is differentiated based on the needs of the individuals. Students in the Endeavour Band receive higher levels of support through smaller class sizes and greater teacher input. Students who may need even further support are directed to our after school homework clubs which are run by teachers in a purposeful but nurturing environment.
A flexible approach is key to successful inclusion so banding is regularly reviewed and, where all the indicators suggest that a student will be better suited in another band, those movements are put in place, in liaison with the student and their parents.
As Graveney is a large school, students in Year 7 have the majority of their lessons taught in their tutor group. This enables them to feel supported and for us to learn about their individual needs at a far deeper level. As students advance through the school, their classes will become far more mixed – for example students are put into sets in Maths in Year 8, they specialise in a Technology subject in Year 9 before making their GCSE subject choices and embarking on their a new academic pathway in Year 10.
At Key Stage 4, provision is differentiated across the pathways, and robust monitoring processes ensure that intervention can be targeted surgically where it is needed. Interventions can include 1:1 support in some subjects, provision of lunch time, after school and holiday catch up classes, support with study skills and occasionally students may have their pathway individually modified to take account of significant emerging learning needs. .
At Key Stage 5, we provide our students with the opportunity to continue onto an appropriate Level 3 programme even where they may not have excelled at Key Stage 4. We are proud to be able to offer a full A-Level pathway to our students based on some of the lowest entry criteria in the borough. Students also have the choice of a mixed A level and BTEC pathway or a full BTEC programme where this best meets their needs.
Our sixth form students are each assigned a tutor/mentor, who spends time with them on a 1:1 basis to review their academic progress, look at any interventions that may be necessary and provide pastoral and other support. There is also an extensive programme of support for the UCAS application process as well tailored support for students with their applications to Oxbridge and medical and veterinary schools.
A substantial programme of extra-curricular music and drama play a very significant role in building a cohesive sixth form, particularly in the context of the large number of students that join us from other schools and who need to settle in, make friends and learn the ‘Graveney way’ quickly.
Beyond the Classroom
To ensure that our students develop all of their talents we recognise the importance of the learning that takes place outside of the classroom. This may be specifically related to the taught curriculum or about developing student’s skills and attributes beyond academic success. To achieve this we provide the following:
- a) An extensive programme of trips in all year groups that takes advantage of the vast array of opportunities available from our London location as well as further afield for example:
o London based curriculum related trips include: Imperial War Museum (History), Bletchley Park(Computing), West End theatre productions (English and Drama) and major London Art Galleries and exhibitions (Art and Technology
o Further afield our KS5 History students go to Washington DC, Religious Studies students to Thailand and languages students to a range of European destinations
- b) All students are expected to participate in our comprehensive outdoor education programme which encompasses a Year 7 Outward Bound residential, Year 8 Geography camping trip to Box Hill and Duke of Edinburgh expeditions at Bronze, Silver and Gold
- c) Our House System involves all students in Years 7 – 11 and students are expected to participate in a range of activities to support their House. This includes: sporting fixtures, competitions and fundraising opportunities. This system ensures a truly cohesive community of students which means that everyone has the opportunity to mix and learn with everyone else
- d) Students have the opportunity to learn about other languages and cultures through events such as the European Day of Languages, where students in the Lower School set up stalls for other students to visit to taste dishes from other countries and speak to native speakers of other Languages as well as talking to students who may be learning a language for the first time. Cultural and linguistic awareness is also encouraged through french and german exchange programmes and the hosting of Italian and chinese students classes periodically during the school year.
- e) Our curriculum covers a full range of careers related events to help prepare students for future work. Examples of this include: Careers Speed Dating events, industry specific workshops and presentations
- f) The school regularly brings in outside speakers to deliver relevant lectures; recent speakers have included high profile names such as Amol Rajan, Professor A C Grayling, Jay Rayner as well as academics in the fields of Science, Geography and many other subjects.
- g) Volunteering activities are carried out by most students in their time at Graveney; many will achieve this through their involvement in the Duke of Edinburgh Award. At Key Stage 3 students assist with clubs and within departments and at Key Stage 4 many students volunteer with outside organisations such as charity shops, youth clubs and local organisations. In Year 12 over 100 students volunteer in school to support younger students with their academic studies as part of the Reading & Maths Partners and GCSE Mentors schemes. THey also visit local primary schools to help with reading, sporting events, school fetes and fairs etc. .
- h) A huge range of lunchtime and after school clubs cater for all interests for example Coding & Robotics, Ukulele, Reading Groups, debating and many more.
- i) A wide range of sporting clubs exist for both boys and girls which take place at lunch time and after school. Teams regularly compete in regional and national competitions. We also have strong links with local sporting clubs (e.g. Old Ruts rugby club and Herne Hill Harriers) to direct students with a particular talent.
- j) All students participate in musical performances in Year 7 through the Big Sing. A huge number continue their involvement with music through choirs, ensembles and bands. Regular concerts in school enable students to become confident performers and our most talented musicians have opportunities to perform in venues such as the Royal Festival Hall and work with organisations as prestigious as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Opera Studio.
- k) We have strong links with a wide range of tertiary institutions which enables us to raise aspirations and provide opportunities for our students to participate in university level experiences. For example, students in Year 12 with a passion for Science can take part in university level STEM research projects in Gene Therapy and Ionic Liquids in partnership with UCL.
l) We provide students with reading lists for each subject and actively encourage them to enrich their learning beyond the taught curriculum. We run a Carnegie shadowing event each year and bring a range of high profile authors and poets into school to inspire a love of reading across the school community.
Evidence of our success can be seen in our consistently outstanding public examination results. Our Progress 8 scores have always been significantly positive (see exam results page for more information) with our best ever (+0.51) achieved in 2019. In particular we are proud that outstanding progress is made by all types of students. In our most recent examination results (2019) all groups, whether defined by ability, ethnicity, gender or SEN, made positive progress. These results demonstrate our commitment to a fully inclusive approach to all aspects of the school curriculum which leads to all groups of students making outstanding progress at Graveney.
We also ensure that every student that completes their GCSEs at Graveney has a suitable progression route into post-16 education. The vast majority of students choose to stay on into Graveney’s sixth form although there are always some for whom it is not an appropriate choice. However we’re proud of the service we provide to students to help them make post-16 choices that are most appropriate to them.
At A level our students achieve consistently high value added scores producing a progress measure for the school of ALPS 3, which puts Graveney in the top 20% of schools for progress. Given the comprehensive nature of the entry requirements for post-16 study we can be confident that our KS5 curriculum and the way that it is being delivered is having a significantly positive impact. Progression routes for our students are excellent with the vast majority of students obtaining places at their first choice university and almost half of those at Russell Group institutions.
Our exceptionally talented alumni keep us in touch with what they are doing and many have ventured into highly prestigious careers. Many of them return and speak to our students about their lives and how Graveney shaped them into the adults they have become.
Regular parent surveys tell us that parents are overwhelmingly positive about our school.
Regular student surveys tell us that students are overwhelmingly positive about our school.
Regular staff surveys tell us that staff are happy at Graveney and that they feel listened to and well supported.
At Graveney we don’t just secure outstanding outcomes and destinations for our students; we also ensure that they develop all of their skills and potential and have a genuine love for learning. Evidence of this can be seen through from:
- The very positive feedback from students and parents of the Year 7 Outward Bound residential trip.
- Participation and completion of the Duke of Edinburgh Award – Graveney is the largest school based DofE centre in London with completion rates that far exceed most other centres.
- Feedback from students and their parents on the very wide range of trips that support their subject based learning.
- The very high participation rates in extra-curricular activities throughout the school including choirs, ensembles and bands, sports clubs, drama productions, STEM clubs, poetry competitions, debating etc.
- The high profile external activities that our musicians are able to participate in as a result of their commitment, skill and enthusiasm including for example performing at the Royal Festival Hall and working with prestigious organisation such as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Opera Studio and performing for the Mayor of London and at St Paul’s cathedral.
- In sport the same exceptional outcomes can also be seen in the success of our students when representing the school both regionally and nationally in a wide range of events and competitions, their experience over the last 10 years as successful Wimbledon Ball boys and girls as well as the two alumni Olympic medallists.
- Participation in University level STEM Research projects in Gene Therapy and Ionic Liquids in partnership with UCL.
- Attendance at an extensive programme of guest lectures.
- The volume of students choosing to study additional subjects at GCSE level outside the school day in subject areas such as Languages, Computing, Additional Maths & Astronomy and their outcomes in those subjects.
The post-university destinations of our alumni and their continuing careers which include, for example, policy advisers to the government, barristers, doctors and geneticists, teachers, headteachers and teaching fellows, banking and data analysts, top TV presenters and journalists, architects, designers and West End actors, dancers and performers, international sports persons and authors.
The strength and continuing commitment of our network of alumni some of whom return to work for us in a variety of teaching and non-teaching roles post-qualification. Others keep in frequent contact and offer their services voluntarily by talking to our current students about what they are doing, supporting school productions, participating in Higher Education Fairs and delivering inspirational speeches to our younger students.
Despite this evidence of our success, we are never complacent and our comprehensive self-evaluation process ensures that we are always looking at ways to improve to ensure that our students continue to flourish.