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Curriculum intent

St Brendan’s Sixth Form College is a Catholic college inspired by the Christian tradition and holds at the centre of its ethos the dignity and uniqueness of each person.

As a Catholic college, we strive to be a centre of educational excellence for the community built on faith, hope and love. We celebrate diversity amongst all our students and staff, and we seek to nurture the gifts of everyone through high quality teaching, learning and providing extensive individual support to enable each student to achieve their full potential.

At St Brendan’s we are committed to ensuring that all our students have access to experiences that enable them to progress and succeed. We want to challenge and motivate our students to build their skills and level of commitment so that they feel confident and able to compete with the very best in any sector. By providing students with opportunities to develop their skills, increase their confidence and resilience, raise their aspirations and broaden their awareness of careers and employability skills, we can motivate and inspire them to be ambitious and to have an ethos of high aspiration to help each of them reach their potential.

The College will ensure each student develops employability skills, has access to work related experiences and broaden their awareness of careers and the world of work, to ensure they have the skills to compete in an increasingly competitive recruitment market and to realise their potential. The curriculum is reviewed at least annually in response to developments in local environment, government educational strategy, student and industry need. We aim to develop skills relevant to students’ study programme, their everyday lives and their plans for their next steps.


St Brendan’s is predominantly a provider of Advanced Level with some Applied General Qualifications at Level 3.  Entry requirements are set to broaden opportunities and ensure students succeed with requirements set for programmes of A-levels, Applied Generals and mixed programmes or both.  Students can choose from 40 A-level qualifications and 19 Level 3 Applied General qualifications. Those eligible to join our Aspire programme also have the opportunity complete a L3 Extended Project Qualification (EPQ).  The College also offers an Access to Level 3 Programme (ATL3) a Transition Programme of Study in Business, Sport, IT, Health and Social Care, Digital Media, Public Services and BTEC Law.  We also offer a smaller number of bespoke GCSE courses in Chemistry, Biology and Sociology. All students who are yet to achieve a grade 4 in GCSE English Language and Maths are required to study GCSE English Language and GCSE Maths until they secure the required grade. The focus of this programme is to provide a progression pathway to Level 3.


At St Brendan’s we recognise the importance of supporting students throughout their studies including through times of difficulty. Our fundamental belief in Christian virtues is lived through this support which is both pastoral and academic, to reflect the students’ needs throughout their study with us. The personal development curriculum encourages students to learn more about themselves as growing and changing individuals. Students can acquire the knowledge, skills and understanding necessary to enable them to make informed choices. Students also learn to respect the views, needs and rights of others, including people of different genders, ages, and cultures to themselves.

Students with a learning need or disability have a bespoke learning support programme to support their studies. The Learning Support department also offers cross college support throughout the academic year which staff can either refer students to or students can self-refer, as and when it is needed.

At every stage we work with students to develop their resilience, courage and perseverance to help each student to fully access their education. All study programmes are designed to ensure students develop an awareness of the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed for higher levels of study and employment in their specific field. The Learning Development team support any student with mental health issues such as self-harm, anxiety, depression etc. We have Welfare Officers who work 1-1 with students.

Student support is also delivered through the dedicated Academic Mentor team which supports students daily and our Mental Health and Well-being team.

Each student has a coherent Programme of study which includes 3 or sometimes 4 subjects (or equivalent BTEC), General RE, Tutorial in which employability skills, Prevent and British Values are embedded. The wider curriculum includes enrichment and additional subject support.

Our programme is structured around the 17 desirable learning outcomes under the Career Development Institute Framework for careers, employability and enterprise education. We monitor and evaluate our progress 3 times a year against the Gatsby Benchmarks.

Students are offered extensive CEIAG from pre-application through to completion of their programme of study to equip them with the skills, knowledge and opportunities needed to progress onto positive destinations. The curriculum is further enhanced by curriculum content, on-site careers advisers, visiting speakers and mentors, day trips and longer residential visits, work experience and volunteering opportunities as well as other activities which seek to meet the Gatsby Career Benchmarks and to develop wider employability and personal skills. We have also developed our Futures programme to further address bespoke employability skills.

The emphasis is on ensuring the study programme meets the needs and aspirations of each student, therefore there is a great deal of flexibility when putting together a study programme.

Religion Philosophy and Ethics

St Brendan’s is not just about gaining qualifications and passing exams. We also believe in the importance of encouraging spiritual and moral growth, and developing important core skills and knowledge which add to the breadth of education. In our Catholic college, Religion, Philosophy and Ethics (RPE) is a key part of the core curriculum and all students, in both Y12 and Y13, are expected to attend a 45 minutes weekly session.

RPE is an exploration of faith programme that aims to give post-16 students an opportunity to reflect on the deeper questions of life, such as who we are, why we are here, and how we want to live our lives and conduct our relationships. The emphasis in the lessons is on active participation and learning from each other. The importance of RPE lies in two main areas. The first is that it augments and supports the distinctive ethos of the College; that we are a community which puts the human being at the centre of all we do, helping to develop values, attitudes and character separately from the main examination subjects.

The second is that RPE is the only lesson where the students can meet people outside their chosen subjects, thus allowing them to develop wider relationships and encouraging inclusivity and understanding among our diverse student population. To lay the foundation of a good character we believe we need to create an arena in which students gain virtue literacy through both the teaching of virtues such as respect, perseverance and responsibility and the opportunities to practice and apply these skills in college, at home and in the community. This will be enhanced further through the delivery of the tutorial programme and then even further through a whole college approach.

Tutorial Programme

The Tutorial Programme is a two-year programme taking place every week. Throughout the Tutorial Programme, there is reference to topics to reinforce safeguarding information, academic and pastoral support provided in college. The College delivers a bespoke tutorial programme for our Access to Level 3, Year 12 and Year 13 students.  Students can require this additional support at any point throughout their time at St Brendan’s and will be more receptive and alert to these reminders when needed. The Academic Mentors monitor students’ attendance, punctuality and achievement.

Futures is embedded within the tutorial programme, designed to support students to become an effective and aspirational learner, accessing information about progression and life after sixth form.  The intent of Futures is to help students develop their employability skills when applying for apprenticeships and employment opportunities.  Any students considering applying to study higher education, receive advice and guidance on the UCAS timeline, personal statements and events such as the UCAS Discovery Exhibition and university outreach activities.

Curriculum Intent statements are available for individual subjects, L2 transition, Foundation Learning, Tutor Programme and General RE.

Collective worship is not a finalised phrase but rather a collective term to represent times when we celebrate our Catholic Ethos and Mission together with other faiths, beliefs and non-beliefs.

Enrichment Programme

Students are also able to access a range of enrichment opportunities both within subject departments and across college. This enables students to bring their curriculum to life and enhance their college experience or because they feel strongly about a particular cause. Students have the chance to make more friends and learn new skills that will increase their employability skills and enhance their personal statement / apprenticeship application. Our current programme consists of:

  • Music / performance – National Theatre Connections, Choir and Bristol Beacon takeover
  • World development – EcoTastic, CAFOD Young Leaders
  • Creative – creative writing, college magazine
  • Self-development – Duke of Edinburgh, Student Ambassador programme
  • Social / cultural – Anime Society, Pride, Languages cafe
  • Sports – participation and competitive
  • Language centre

Enrichment is overseen by our Student Engagement and Enrichment Officer and activities are delivered by teachers, chaplaincy and students. Our current enrichment offer is available via our website.

Students can see democracy in action by taking part in the Student Union elections either by running for the committee or voting for their peers.  Our active Student Union acts as a bridge between our students and the senior leadership team and are consulted on any aspect of student life.  They organise charity events, gigs, and college socials.

Another way for students to develop their skills, confidence and communication skills is to join our Student Ambassador Programme. They work on a variety of events, both at college and out in our feeder schools so they have experience of a variety of professional settings. Students work with other students they may not necessarily know from their subject lessons so they develop their teamwork skills.  They communicate with new students, parents/carers and staff and this builds their confidence. Students refer to this experience in their UCAS personal statement or CV as evidence of their developing character.