Personal Development

At Vandyke Upper School, the aim of our curriculum is for young people to leave Vandyke as confident and socially responsible world ready citizens with the skills, knowledge and courage to thrive.

We strive to provide students with extensive experiences and opportunities that go beyond the national expectations as part of our personal development curriculum. This is achieved through our Experiences Curriculum and our Character Curriculum.


Experiences curriculum

Our Experiences Curriculum has three objectives:

  • To Provide New Experiences
  • To Broaden Horizons
  • To Develop Cultural Awareness


Character curriculum

Our Character Curriculum aims to 'Develop Vandyke Character Values'

Vandyke Upper School believes all students should have access to opportunities they may not otherwise have outside of school. Along with our Knowledge and Skills Curriculum, both our Experience Curriculum and the Character Curriculum are inclusive, and opportunities are available to all students at the school.

Examples include our Year 9 Robotics Challenge, the ‘Model UN club’ to debate items on the UN agenda, the student-run Eco council, STEM club and our exceptional shows such as ‘Will We Rock You’ which was sold out for three nights.

External agencies also are used where possible to bring in additional skills from the local area. This includes the National Citizenship Scheme, The National Apprenticeship Service and the Box Clever Theatre Company.

The school continues to expect 100% of the Gatsby Benchmarks are met as well as the Baker Clause. Our in depth careers policy and programme ensures this is met. The school have a Level 6 careers advisor as well as using 4YP for our independent careers advise.

Due to COVID, students currently receive online work experience through speakers for schools. This is to ensure we provide students with meaningful work experiences and students experience this through a live setting.

The school are currently expanding the Careers team and are in the process of appointing a Head of Careers to provide further expertise.


The school has an established Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme set up in the school with over 350 students taking part in this. Pupil Premium students are able to take part in the Award scheme fully funded. The scheme has been so successful that the school is one of a small group worldwide to be congratulated for their outstanding support for the scheme.

The Duke of Edinburgh started with 20 students and had grown to over 110 students. Our Silver award started with 12 and this has grown to 50 students with 30 students now registered for the Gold award.

Another example is our recent recognition for our student leadership. In November 2021, our Sixth Form Girls Activators were shortlisted for an award as part of the Youth Sports Trust’s Girls Active Awards.

Furthermore, the school aims to have as many external visitors to meet with students about their experience in the world of work. From the Lead designer with Alexander McQueen, a CEO of a large physiotherapy company to members of the fire service.

The school continues to evaluate the quality and intent of our Experience and Character curriculum. Our trips and visits stand out as an example of the high quality provision provided. Recent examples include a visit to the National Apprenticeship Show, a visit to Swanage to study coastal management, a residential to Edinburgh, attending the British Film Institute and the Outdoor Educational visit to the New Forest.

House System and Student Voice

The school runs an inclusive Student Voice programme.

We recognise that the needs and concerns of students are forever evolving. As a result, we must constantly reflect upon the practice and policies that shape school life. Student involvement is essential to this end.  This is through our student voice programme.

We needed an approach that empowers students to realise that their opinions matter, that they can influence change and that they are part of an inclusive community. Effective student voice is an important part of developing a sense of belonging.

A new student voice procedure has been developed and started in September 2021. We needed a system that can involve all students in some way in student voice and we do this through the house system.

Each house has a house council for years 9-11. Each tutor group has had the opportunity to elect/select between 1 and 4 representatives to join the house council. House Councils comprise around 30 students and hence allow meetings to fit into a classroom.

House council meetings led by DOH are calendared and timetabled every half term. Tutors who are not teaching may wish to attend.

The school council meets every half term following house council meetings and are lead by the Head Teacher and governor(s) when available. The agenda will be set by house councils and staff. All members of the house councils will attend the calendared and timetabled meeting in the theatre.

The Sixth Form will have a Sixth Form senior team for Year 12 and 13 and they will also attend the school council meeting when available.

The role of the tutor is vital in initiating discussion, valuing the process and closing the loop of discussion and decisions back into tutor groups through fortnightly class meetings in tutor time.

Alongside this structure we will run other groups eg. charities/fund-raising – SAL has volunteered to run this, sports council reps, and other groups may evolve in time.

One tutor time per fortnight is timetabled for Student Voice discussion / activity called a class meeting and supported by the class meeting software tool for communication and recording discussion and decisions.

One lesson every half-term is timetabled for the house councils to meet and one lesson every half-term is timetabled for the school council to meet.

House council members have been consulted on having a coloured enamel badge to wear to identify them as house reps and reps who have attended consistently now wear these.


We are committed to providing an outstanding Careers Education and Guidance Programme which will motivate and inspire all students to ‘Aim High’ and achieve their potential.  We believe that all students are entitled to impartial and, where necessary, confidential advice in order to manage their own lifelong learning and career development.  The careers team at Vandyke work alongside the curriculum and pastoral teams to promote achievement and enable young people to follow their aspirations.  Every student at Vandyke has access to a high quality Careers Education and Guidance Programme and, in addition, more focused and targeted support where needed.

We believe that our students are entitled to a careers programme which prepares students for the opportunities, challenges, responsibilities and experiences of not only post-16 education, training and employment, but for life-long career planning.  Our Careers Education and Guidance Programme is designed to support students to feel positive about their future, to improve their motivation, raise their aspirations and take responsibility for their career plans.

At Vandyke, the Gatsby Career Benchmarks and The Baker Clause are at the heart of our Careers Education and Guidance Programme. You can read more about our Careers programme here.

Develop Vandyke Character Values

The school are in the process of redesigning our pastoral structure to encompass a year-based pastoral system as well as retraining the house system.

Due to the school's determination to provide an outstanding personal development offer, we will be increasing the number of hours students receive Lifeskills lessons from June 2022.

Our Head of Lifeskills has recently completed an internal audit of our RSE/PSHE and RE curriculum with the PSHE Association. Whilst we meet all national standards, we want to go beyond this and provide students with the best opportunity to be responsible citizens whilst at school and when they leave. In our PSHE curriculum, we also include PIXL’s LORIC programme and are exploring the use of an extra-curricular online programme for students should they wish to learn more.


In addition to the strong academic progress students make, we are proud that our destinations figures for both KS4 and KS5 are both above the national average.

97% of our KS4 students remain in education or employment compared to a National Average of 94%. At KS5, 89% of our students remain in education or employment compared to 81% National Average. (Data - June 2022)

We currently meet all of the Gatsby Benchmarks, and our extensive links with external colleges and universities ensure the Baker Clause is met.

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