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Complementary Studies

Subject Leader: Mrs B Gwyther


The CS curriculum aims to help students develop a fuller understanding of their roles and responsibilities as individuals and as citizens. Across both Key Stages students gain practical knowledge and skills to help them to live healthily and to deal with the spiritual, moral, social and cultural issues they face as they approach adulthood. We aim for all of our students to become informed, thoughtful, responsible and active citizens who are aware of their duties and rights. We teach our students to understand why we respect different national, religious and ethnic cultures.  Students develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to be able to face challenges, make informed choices and  live confident, healthy, independent lives as individuals, parents and workers.  Finally, the skills and qualities honed in CS allow them to play a useful part in the life of the school, the local community and the wider world.

The subject content contained within our curriculum is fully compliant with the statutory content outlined in the Key Stage 3 and 4 Framework for Relationships Sex and Health Education as well as the National Curriculum Programme of Study for Citizenship at Key Stage 3 and 4 and is underpinned by the guidance of the PSHE Association. 

All students learn about topics within the main themes of PSHE : 

  • Health and Wellbeing
  • British Values
  • Relationships and Sex Education,
  • Financial Awareness 
  • Living in the Wider World (developing skills such as  resilience, self-esteem, risk-management, team working and critical thinking)

It is important to stress that whilst there is no correct order to teach these themes the needs of the students are paramount and the programme is developed each year so that is relevant and appropriate to the needs of the students at their stage and level of ability and maturity.

CS builds upon exposure to PSHCE at primary level, so the first modules of work are used to encourage students to develop discussion and group work skills whilst tackling a topic within their comfort zone, for example identity, friendships or safety, with more sensitive topics such as personal hygiene, drugs or relationships being studied later. In a spiral curriculum each large theme contains smaller topics which increase in complexity.

The CS curriculum is designed to build on knowledge and skills year by year, revisiting themes within the curriculum but with the focus on a topic at a level appropriate to the students’ age, maturity and ability. Each time a topic is re-visited new learning is linked to prior knowledge putting it into context with the information already acquired. This allows knowledge, skills and understanding to be reinforced each time the students revisit the subject matter and forms a logical progression from simple ideas to complex concepts. 

Each topic begins with an activity to ascertain current knowledge, to identify gaps in learning and address misconceptions. Short and longer term retrieval tasks are a feature at the start of each lesson  followed by the introduction of new material and short tasks designed to promote discussion and build knowledge and confidence in a non-threatening environment.   Plenaries and self assessment tasks as well as low stakes testing help to identify strengths as well as areas for development. Retrieval challenges as well as ILT tasks are used to help embed and transfer knowledge from the short to long term memory

As Citizenship is non statutory at Key Stage 1 and 2 it is assumed that students will enter the Axholme Academy with no prior knowledge.  This is currently also the case with PSHE. This however will change as we move forward with statutory PSHE requirements in Key Stage 1 and 2 from September 2020. Topics are again sequenced so that students start with familiar topics such as identity and Britishness or pocket money and move into less familiar territory of democracy and criminal justice and the spiral nature allows for revisiting age- and ability- appropriate aspects of these  themes at various times over the course of the 5 year learning journey, making links to prior knowledge and using real life experiences to prepare for future situations, risks and challenges. The Adolescent Lifestyle Survey conducted by North Lincolnshire Public Health as well as local knowledge allows for the course to be personalised and address the local needs of our students as well as national issues.

Students in both Key Stages are prepared for the next phase of education and training by developing study skills, planning a career path, acquiring employability skills and  participating in planned work experience. Students work on a variety of tasks to develop interpersonal and communication skills, practise working independently, and as part of a team, solve problems and plan and organise themselves and their time effectively. Over time students build resilience to challenging situations, develop skills to manage risk, to revise effectively and to use technology to complete everyday tasks such as banking.

During lessons, emphasis is very much on discussion and exploration of a topic to allow students to gain knowledge, but more importantly to develop opinions and to practise arguing for and defending a point of view. Progress is gauged not by how much a student may know and can write about a topic, but rather about how they feel about a topic, how far their ideas have developed and how confident they feel about arguing a point, secure in the knowledge that they have the information, understanding and vocabulary to do so effectively. 

Students who excel in CS have the opportunity to use the core body of knowledge to access extension activities within lessons, source additional independent learning materials and suggested titles for independent reading or viewing.

The CS curriculum has links with the following subject areas: 

  • Science  - reproduction
  • ICT - E safety 
  • Food technology - Healthy eating 
  • Mathematics - Financial capability 
  • PE - physical and  mental wellbeing 
  • RE contraception, abortion and moral dilemmas
  • English - Loss and bereavement

Students’ Cultural Capital is developed through CS by having visiting speakers from the House of Commons or House of Lords,  Samaritans, Safer Roads Humber partnership;   visiting local careers events, access to the school nurse, individual interviews with careers and guidance officers, watching Theatre in Education performances and assemblies with speakers from local colleges, apprenticeship and training providers.Where this is not possible, cultural capital is gained by taking students out in to the virtual world by using film clip or texts about personal experiences and internet access to places such as the House of Commons or local banks.


Head of Department Mrs B Gwyther