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The Rugby Free Secondary Psychology curriculum allows students to develop an understanding of human behaviour through an exciting array of topics. The A Level curriculum allows students an opportunity to delve into the theories while applying their newly gained knowledge to a wide range of topics and every-day situations


They will show an inquisitive mind and enjoy the challenge of this new and unfamiliar subject. Our intent is that our students will be offered a curriculum which is academically rigorous but also helps them to develop into curious and well-rounded young people, who become more analytical in the way that they view everyday human behaviours

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Like all science, psychology is knowledge; and like science again, it is knowledge of a definite thing, the mind. 


RFSS Curriculum Vision Statement:

To build an inclusive curriculum which is aspirational for all and empowers our students to make outstanding academic and personal progress.


Psychology Curriculum in Context:

Psychology is an increasingly popular option, at all levels (GCSE, A level and further education), with a 48% growth in entries for AQA GCSE Psychology since 2019 (AQA, 2019, 2023), a 34% growth in entries at A level since 2016 (compared to on average 2.5% growth across all A level entries), making it the second most popular A level course (and most popular overall for female students, second most popular for disadvantaged students FFT, 2022), and over 75,000 students studying psychology undergraduate degrees at university (UCAS, 2015). Conversely to the course’s popularity, attainment of top grades in psychology is slightly lower when compared to other GCSEs and A levels, even when considering teacher assessed grades (Ofqual, 2023), which is likely to be, at least partly, a result of the ongoing impact of COVID-19. Evidence suggests that, due to COVID-19, students have fallen behind on a number of skills which are crucial for success in psychology, most notably literacy (spelling, punctuation, grammar and spoken English) which are required for essay questions and for students to fully engage with debates within Issues & Debates (assessed at A level); mathematics (fractions and problem solving) which make up at least 10% of the marks across the A Level papers and can be assessed on any topic at GCSE; and a lack of practicals in subjects such as science, which is necessary for students to develop understanding of the research methods used within psychology, which makes up at least 25% of marks across the A Level papers and can again be assessed on any topic at GCSE (Ofqual, 2021). Students’ lack of understanding of mathematical content has also been linked to greater maths anxiety, which can cause students difficulties when studying Psychology. Therefore, these are parts of the content which are at the core of our delivery of Psychology, which is why this is the first topic covered in year 10 for GCSE, allowing students to see how important the entire research process is, and link this to the topic of memory covered in year 9. We also begin the A level course by looking at the mathematical and research methods content, allowing this to be interweaved and revised throughout the rest of the two year course. In addition, we provide students with explicit teaching support around the literacy elements of constructing answers to essay questions at both GCSE and A level, and scaffold this support so that students build confidence and independence in these skills.

Furthermore, the COVID-19 lockdowns brought about greater prevalence and awareness of a wide variety of mental health conditions. Psychology is ideally placed to support students to understand their own and others’ minds, an area which an increasing number of students are curious to know more about. Through studying the mind and behaviour, students can gain an understanding of why people might think or act in a particular way, and how this thinking and behaviour might be changed. This allows students to develop their ‘psychological literacy’ (defined as developing ‘critically scientific thinkers and ethical and socially responsible participants in their communities’, McGovern et al., 2010). With the diverse nature of RFSS, this skill would encourage and enable students to be inclusive and understanding of students’ different backgrounds. This also develops students who would be suitable for a number of different further education and career options, it has been noted that 72% of psychology undergraduates go directly into employment (UCAS, 2015), but that these cover a broad and diverse range of careers (Nuffield Trust, 2021). This means that students studying GCSE and/or A Level Psychology at RFSS are well placed to navigate the challenging context of employment once they leave RFSS, for example, in Rugby there are higher rates of people employed in jobs in professional, scientific and technical activities, education, and administration and support service activities, all of which are helped by an understanding of psychological literacy (Warwickshire County Council, 2022). In the wider context, there is a growing focus on roles focused on equality, diversity and inclusion, wellbeing of staff, children’s mental health, and wider mental health education, again all of which would be benefitted by an understanding of psychology (APA, 2023).


Curriculum Aims:


Our curriculum aims to:

·        Fully support our students to be happy, healthy and safe in the modern world, through developing a better understanding of the behaviour of people in the world around them

·        Empower our students to

o   Know more about human behaviour and thinking

o   Remember more about the approaches and key topics within psychology

o   Do more by applying their knowledge to real world contexts and research methods

·        Inspire our students to strive for excellence and success throughout their lives

·        Prepare our students to be both literate and numerate


Our broad and balanced curriculum concentrates on developing our students’ key knowledge and skills, and enhances their understanding of the world around them. 


We do this by:

•   Stimulating intellectual curiosity about human behaviour and thinking and independence to research these ideas

•   Facilitating collaboration, where students work with each other to research and conduct psychological studies

•   Promoting challenge for all through the topics we cover and particularly the evaluation and comparison of these topics, irrespective of starting points

•   Enabling creativity, by encouraging students to debate contrasting perspectives (particularly the nature-nurture debate) to find their own voice and arguments for essays

•   Sequencing learning so that students build on their early understanding of psychological approaches and research methods with logical progression, taking into account individual starting points

•   Revisiting previous learning of approaches, research methods and key evaluation areas to support the transfer to long-term memory



Our curriculum is focused on the development of communication, character and cultural capital of each individual student, so they become:

·        Kind, caring citizens who contribute positively to society in a respectful manner due to their greater understanding of human behaviour around them

·        Reflective learners, who can learn from their work and the work of others, and who are resilient enough to problem-solve, reason, evaluate and debate within exams

·        Articulate individuals who can verbalise their own thoughts, ideas and emotions within debates and evaluation

·        Hard-working and empathetic young people who are constantly applying their learning to real-world situations


Curriculum Outcome:

As a consequence of our curriculum, students who leave RFSS will be empathetic and self-reflective individuals, competent at considering different opinions whilst being able to argue and support their own perspective. They will have a multitude of necessary skills, therefore, to enable them to progress to any further education course or career they wish to pursue.

Please view or download our 'Sequence Overview' document for Psychology

What are they learning?

  • Kindness
    We regularly give ‘shout outs’ for staff who have gone above and beyond and demonstrated an exceptional display of one of our values We encourage and try to support flexible working requests and promote ‘family values’ as something that makes the workforce distinctive. We try to ensure staff have the opportunity to attend personal events or celebrations when requested and within agreed time frame.
  • Collaboration
    We have an active Staff Wellbeing committee who meet regularly to discuss staff wellbeing and workload. We provide all new staff with a ‘buddy’ to provide support and advice. We plan a variety of staff social events across the year. We provide staff with a free lunch on the day of their duty. We have regular staff breakfasts, provide food on all CPD days and occasional treats such as Pizza!
  • Curiosity
    We invest heavily in staff CPD and both promote and support opportunities to develop staff. We provide opportunities for all staff to network and visit other schools to improve their practice and share great ideas.
  • Respect
    We have a Staff Room, where staff can meet, work and even socialise Each faculty has its own staff work room We have regular appraisal conversations to discuss career progression
  • Resilience
    We promote resilience through our reflective CPD pathways. We have an area in the staff room dedicated to wellbeing which is used to promote health and wellbeing. We share weekly health and wellbeing information.
  • Endeavour
    Promote a work life balance by being considerate when sending emails and holding meetings. We will endeavor to celebrate our staff and their achievements on a regular basis, for example; a black tie celebration evening.
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