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Curriculum models - secondary

Secondary school structures and curriculum models – food for thought

The purpose of this section is to provide material for consideration by schools reviewing curriculum and staffing. The models do not purport to be perfect scenarios; rather they throw up conundrums faced by schools of different sizes.

The smaller the school, the more stretched the scenario becomes, suggesting that collaboration is the way forward to retain flexibility, breadth and affordability.

At the end of each scenario is an indication of the cost of the over-resource within the model. For the purposes of this toolkit we use a crude figure of £37,500 (£50,000 including on-costs) as the cost of a teacher and cite savings based on average teaching loads within each individual model plus savings based a notional teaching load of 84% which is the average contact time as calculated from of schools who contributed to the Herts curriculum analysis.


We have created models for six differently sized secondary schools, with year groups of up to 90, 120, 150, 180, 210 and 240. 

All SLTs and heads of year have been allocated PSE as their subject, so in each model PSE is vastly over-resourced and most other subjects are under-resourced. It is assumed that these teachers would offer a variety of subjects that would fill the under-resourced subjects. This means that the actual staffing of the school could be different from that indicated, depending on the subjects offered by SLTs and heads of year.

The leadership structure and TLRs are the shape that can be seen in many schools; some movement in structure could give additional savings.

All models have an “over-resource” figure, which is the difference between the required teaching resource and the available teaching resource provided by the teaching staff detailed. This is an indicative figure, given the staffing outlined, and would probably be lower in most cases, depending on the subjects offered by the SLT and heads of year. 

There is a wide range of ways of dealing with over-resource, including reducing the number of teaching staff employed by the school; selling expertise to other schools; and working with local primary schools to provide expert cover for PPA time and encourage good primary–secondary collaboration, which could possibly help with transition.

i/c stands for in charge of subject area
2i/c stands for second in subject area

General principles for the construction of the curriculum models

All models have been created on the basis of a two-week 50-period timetable cycle.

Key Stage 3 curriculum model




Class sizes for design and technology have been limited to 20. The number of PE classes has been adjusted to allow for single-sex lessons with a maximum of 30 students, assuming equal numbers of boys and girls in each year group. All other subjects have class sizes as as possible close to 30.

Key Stage 4 curriculum model


The structure has been based on an average class size of 20 for option groups, to give good breadth to the curriculum offer. The average class size for RE, PSE and PE has been set to 30 (whilst allowing for single-sex PE). The average class size for English, maths and science has been set to 25. The options subjects selected are chosen from a common range of subjects, but with some emphasis on humanities and languages.

Key Stage 5

We have assumed a stay-on rate of approximately 66% from Year 11 to Year 12. To calculate how many classes to include in the structure, we have assumed that each student will take three qualifications and that the average class size will be 16. Each option has been allocated 20% curriculum time, and there are groups of re-sit English and maths in Year 12. PSE and games have each been allocated 4% curriculum time in both Year 12 and Year 13. We have selected the traditional A level subjects in the main, so the important figure will be the overall number of teachers required to staff the curriculum rather than specific types of teachers.


We have staffed each school with a senior team, consisting of a non-teaching headteacher, a non-teaching SENCo, two deputy headteachers on 20% teaching loads, and two assistant headteachers on 40% teaching loads. There are then six heads of year on 72% teaching loads. The subject staff is made up of heads of faculty (72% load), heads of department (80% load), second in faculty (80% load) and main scale teachers (84% load).

The models


> Curriculum costing analysis





Herts for Learning
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