We will: Learn to love others, achieve our full potential, enhance our community, join together in celebration, nurture and develop our gifts and talents. Standing strong to grow as faithful Disciples in Christ.

At St Mary’s Catholic High School, we believe that it is vital to offer a broad and balanced curriculum that celebrates all subjects equally. Our students are encouraged to follow a pathway that best suits their aspirations and our curriculum offers a pathway for everybody. Hence, every child has the opportunity to continue to study within our Catholic college.

Curriculum intent

To create:

  • Successful learners who enjoy learning, make good progress and achieve good outcomes that allow them to transition to a suitable post 18 destination
  • Confident individuals who are able to live happy, safe, healthy and fulfilling lives
  • Responsible citizens who can make a positive contribution to our school community, parish and society
  • Successful learners with 21st century skills needed beyond St Mary’s Catholic college
  • Successful learners with the skills needed for employment or training
  • Opportunities for moral and spiritual reflection in order to promote positive emotional health and confidence.
  • Learners who stand strong to grow as faithful Disciples in Christ.

Our curriculum is driven by our strong sense of Christian moral purpose. We enable students to study the subjects, type of subject and number of subjects which are best suited to their individual learning needs, personal aspirations and ambitions. Through excellent IAG students are encouraged to study any combination of subjects be they academic, arts related or vocational.

It is essential that the curriculum provides students with the opportunity to learn expected behaviours, how to be safe and to be successful in their learning so that we can deliver our mission and aims.

Strategic Intent

To develop a curriculum which:

  • Creates an aspirational high achievement culture
  • Takes into account individual learning needs and styles
  • Allows everyone to experience success
  • Raises standards of attainment


Curriculum Implementation

We aim to provide a supportive and ambitious environment in which individuals feel valued, grow in confidence and fulfil their potential for academic, moral and social development. Each student can expect a personalised education with the highest quality teaching and a supportive learning environment that will ensure that they leave on an appropriate post 18 destination.

In Year 11 there is a consultation between school, students and parents/carers about the courses and pathways to be followed from Year 12 onwards enabling the choice of subjects for Key Stage 5 to be well informed. This is further supported by two taster days where students get the opportunity to sample sixth form lessons of subjects that they are keen to study.

St Mary’s Catholic college has a very distinctive sixth form curriculum. We offer 19 A levels including 8 facilitating subjects. 13 of the newly reformed applied general qualifications and a level 2 pathway. The level 2 pathway is a set curriculum offer including Maths and English GCSE as required along with Business studies and Travel & Tourism. In addition, all student are supported through the general RE programme. Students who fail to achieve a grade 4 or above in GCSE English or Mathematics resit these subjects with timetabled lessons allocated. There is a curriculum and pathway to allow all students to be successful.

Students undertake a minimum of 3 level 3 qualifications although some do opt to study more courses. Students are offered a very generous 5 hours contact time per week per level 3 qualification to maximise success.

As a result of offering applied general qualifications of size 1, St Mary’s are able to offer four broad and distinct pathways. Purely academic, purely vocational, a mix of both or the level 2 pathway. This allows students complete flexibility and the opportunity to study a wide range of courses that complement their future goals, gifts and talents.


St Mary’s Catholic High School students benefit from a personal tutor model that is similar to that of a university. Tutors deliver the ‘KS5 mindset’ model once per week to a small group. This has allowed for a very personal approach that has supported our pastoral aims. All students are taken through a programme of activities that allow them to reflect on themselves and their practices to help maximise outcomes. This is a well-researched programme with proven positive effects.

We run our PSHE timetable through collapsed periods. The programme includes promotion of the National Challenge and lessons from Auschwitz programme. It also includes careers support and further post 16 skills like safer driving, drug and relationship abuse, financial management and the prevent strategy.


Enrichment and Careers Opportunities

“In St Mary’s Sixth form college learners will receive high quality impartial careers guidance that prepares them for their chosen next steps and enables them to make well-informed decisions about their future plans.”

All students have access to independent careers advice through our careers advisor. All students have access to the careers convention. All students have access to the ‘startprofile’ platform to deepen their knowledge of the local labour market. All students have the opportunity to follow up their findings and chosen career paths with our independent advisor.

In addition, we work closely with the Social Mobility Foundation (SMF) who offer training and mentoring to able students from disadvantaged backgrounds. St Mary’s Catholic college have had students successfully accepted onto their programme for the last 3 years giving those students a huge head start in life.

St Mary’s Catholic college also offer the HE+ programme to our highest ability students. This programme allows our students to challenge themselves through masterclasses and discussions with other like-minded students. A visit to Cambridge university offers real aspiration.

Additional specialist support is also provided. The UCAS programme provides the opportunity to visit universities and meet university admissions tutors from a range of institutions. Students are offered extensive support with the university application process by a dedicated and experienced team.


Curriculum impact

  • 92% of our learners go on to sustained education, employment or training. This is 11 percentage points better than the national.
  • In 2019 50% of our disadvantaged cohort went to university
  • In 2019 22% of our university applicants successfully transitioned to a Russell group university. This was also matched by the DP cohort.
  • 18.6% of students achieved AAB or higher in at least 2 facilitating subjects and puts us in the top 40% nationally. This is the highest score in Wigan and higher than the national average for state funded schools.
  • In 2019 our average grade for a student’s best 3 A-levels was grade B and puts us in the top 20% nationally. This is better than the national average grade of C+.
  • 94% of our A level courses had a VA score that was broadly average or better
  • 100% of our applied general courses had a VA score that was broadly average or better
  • Outstanding average progress in Maths GCSE was 0.75 against a national score of 0.08
  • Outstanding average progress in English GCSE was 1.17 against a national score of 0.13
  • Our retention rates are at the national average. Students that do leave are supported by our independent careers advisor and referred to the progression team.
  • 98% of students rate the information, advice and guidance towards their UCAS application as good or excellent
  • 75% of students rate the information, advice and guidance towards gaining an apprenticeship, work or accessing a gap year as good or excellent
  • 94% of students rate the skills, values and attitudes that they have developed that are needed to be successful in the workplace/university as good or excellent
  • 98% of students feel safe as a sixth former
  • 94% of students rate their overall experience of St Mary’s as good or excellent
  • 10 out of the 18 students on our level 2 pathway successfully transitioned onto level 3 courses.

“Leadership of the sixth form is good. Leaders have a clear vision of the type of provision they want to offer and how this fits with other post-16 providers locally” – Ofsted 2019

“Study programmes are well designed so that they closely match the needs and aspirations of students. There is a good range of opportunities through academic and vocational courses. Leaders constantly review the curriculum, taking into account Greater Manchester’s ‘six areas of development’. Where numbers justify, leaders will seek to offer courses requested by students.” – Ofsted 2019

“Students receive high-quality information, advice and guidance about their next steps. By the time students complete Year 13, they have experienced the world of work. Very few students leave the sixth form without a clear destination path and having secured a place in training, education or employment.” – Ofsted 2019