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Lower School (11+) Curriculum

A rich and broad curriculum which is stimulating, creative and innovative; it encourages academic rigour and the development of pathways to future study

Academic Skills

Lower School - Academic SkillsThe Lower School curriculum at St John’s is centred on academic rigour, independence of thought and imagination. Through the development of key skills and competences we encourage our pupils to become successful learners. We have integrated cross-curricular links into the fundamental principles and planning of our curriculum, thereby promoting and developing the ability and confidence to transfer content and skills developed in one subject area into a different subject and context. This helps all pupils to improve their ability to criticise assumptions and suggest alternatives, collaborate and negotiate more effectively when sharing and developing opinions and thus become better learners and leaders overall.

Curriculum themes

Our curriculum invites pupils to consider the three ‘themes’ from the perspective of different core subjects while embarking upon projects to explore these in a creative context. The themes in the Lower Third are Identity, Communication and Journeys; one per term.

Term 1 - IdentityTerm 2 - CommunicationTerm 3 - Journeys

Lower School subjects

Lower Third subject details

Core module

At the heart of our academic programme sits the core module. This secures the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary for future examination success and includes our innovative Think! programme. Think! promotes an ethos of independent learning and introduces pupils to elements of philosophy, politics and current affairs. It also enhances skills in debating and presenting, combining the components of the core module with the skills and learning delivered in the technology, performance and creativity modules.


Languages play an important role in our curriculum and we develop a strong foundation in Lower and Upper Third (Years 7 and 8) in both modern foreign languages and Latin. The option to study ancient Greek and classical civilisation as separate subjects is introduced in the Fourth Form (Year 9). Pupils choose to study either French or Spanish in the Lower Third (Year 7) and then take up a second language in the Upper Third (Year 8), when they can also choose to study German.

Creativity, performance and technology

The creativity, performance and technology modules are underpinned by art, music, drama and the principles of computing respectively and the other elements contribute towards projects in a theme-based approach. These modules not only transmit key elements of culture and inter-personal skills, they promote an understanding of the different disciplines which helps pupils to make informed decisions regarding subject options for GCSE and beyond. 


Pupils regularly undertake keystone assessments on key areas of the curriculum to help them consolidate what they have learned and to assess and inform their progress. At the end of the Lower Third and Upper Third, there is a series of internal assessments for the same purpose.

Extra-curricular events

Interspersed throughout the year are extra-curricular events which encourage pupils to use the skills and knowledge learned in lessons in a different context and showcase what they have learned and done in class; these are activity-based, enjoyable and often competitive in nature.

The Library

The school library has a range of information resources suitable for Lower School pupils, who are encouraged to spend their spare time browsing what is available with the support of library staff. Guided reading lessons form part of the English curriculum.