NUAST's Curriculum:

Context and Background

NUAST is a specialist 11-18 STEM academy. NUAST is situated within the City of Nottingham and currently has a student intake at Year 7and Year 12. Parents may apply for an in year transfer to any year group in school.

NUAST has established an excellent reputation with parents locally and the school is oversubscribed for entry.

As a specialist STEM school, NUAST works closely with local and national employers, the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University to support our curriculum and provide opportunities for employment, further education and training through apprenticeships and for higher education study. Our academic curriculum, the wider opportunities for study and involvement in extra-curricular activity are designed to meet the needs of the local economic area, the Nottingham City Growth Plan and the national requirements to fill the shortfall in STEM careers.


We provide an excellent education for all of our students, where success is measured not only by their academic progress but also by how students develop as an active and contributing member of society. Our curriculum is designed to provide all our students with the core knowledge that is the foundation of this success. It encompasses our ‘work hard be kind’ ethos and reflects the specialist facilities with which the school is favourably equipped.

The STEM focus of the academy ensures students access rewarding and stable careers that feed into the economic success of our locality and also nationally. Our students ultimately become active and economically self-sufficient members of the communities in which they live.

Our STEM focussed curriculum is broad and students experience a wide range of subjects and opportunities for development. We teach students to think, to review and critically analyse, ensuring that students are active rather than passive learners. By maximising cognitive development, we develop the whole person and the talents of each individual.


Our curriculum allows our students to study a broad range of subjects until the end of Year 9; students are then guided to pathways appropriate to their career aims and individual learning needs. Our Post-16 curriculum gives students both vocational and academic routes that match career aspirations.

We aim to have a stable curriculum; occasional adjustments in the light of feedback and experience will ensure stability over many years, so that teaching staff can develop expertise, teaching materials and assessments to support high quality delivery of the curriculum. This also brings benefits to staff by reducing their workload.

Our approach to teaching and learning supports our curriculum by ensuring that lessons build on prior learning and provide sufficient opportunity for guided and independent practice. In lessons, students work on challenging concepts, with teachers providing additional support for those students who need it. Learning is consolidated and understanding secured before teaching moves onto the next concept. Through regular assessment teaching staff will promptly identify and support students who are not achieving the expected standards. Our curriculum approach supports early catch up and intervention as an essential teaching and learning strategy.

Each teacher is empowered to bring knowledge to life, provide context, humour and memorable classroom moments for our students. We recognise that learning is a personal experience founded on relationships between teaching staff, support staff and students. This learning is more than the taught subject timetable; learning covers the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of our students, reflecting the needs of our local context.

As part of our curriculum development, by September 2021, NUAST will offer Physical Education and Philosophy & Ethics to all year groups.


The impact of the NUAST’s curriculum can be measured through a wide variety of means:

  • Outcomes for students at A Level in Year 13
  • Destinations data for post 16 students
  • Outcomes for students at GCSE in Year 11
  • Destinations data for Year 11 students
  • Progress and attainment data for individual year groups
  • Attendance data
  • Behaviour logs
  • Student engagement in enrichment activities
  • Student voice
  • Parent voice
  • Stakeholder feedback
  • Progress towards the Gatsby benchmarks
  • Learning walk data.

With thousands of pupils across the NOVA Education Trust group of schools NUAST students are able to use common assessments in most subject areas. These are high quality summative assessments which allow pupils to demonstrate their growing understanding of their subjects and teachers to assess the impact of their teaching. These summative assessments are typically taken once or twice a year, enabling teachers to focus on formative assessment from lesson to lesson to inform planning.

Our formative assessments are designed to support students in achieving fluency and depth of understanding in each subject. In lessons pupils are questioned on prior knowledge in order to reinforce and embed this knowledge in their long term memory. Students are asked to apply knowledge in unfamiliar contexts to aid recall and application.

We are particularly conscious of the role that literacy and vocabulary plays in unlocking the whole curriculum for our students. Teachers will explicitly teach the meaning of subject-specific language, and we expect lessons to contain challenging reading and writing. Knowledge organisers will provide students with key information in each subject, enabling them to develop their understanding of key concepts outside of their lessons. We also encourage all pupils to read widely.

Year 10 and 11

All of our students study the core curriculum of English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Geography or History, Core PE, PSHE, and RSE. Students select either an Ebacc or Technical Pathway. Those following the Ebacc pathway will study Spanish plus one other option subject. Those undertaking the Technical pathway will study two qualifications in ICT/Computing or Engineering plus two option subjects.

  • Ebacc Pathway
  • Engineering Pathway: Cambridge National Qualifications in Engineering Design, Engineering Manufacture and Engineering Systems and Control
  • ICT/Computing Pathway: GCSE Computer Science, Cambridge National ICT

Students will select option choices from:

  • History, Geography, Spanish, Business Studies, Product Design, Engineering, Computer Science, Photography and Physical Education.

Year 12 and 13

Our Post 16 students are able to select from a broad range of subject choices that offer both Specialist STEM subjects as well as broader subject choices. These include:

  • A Level pathway choosing from Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Psychology, Sociology, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, History, Geography, Computer Science, Engineering Design, English Combined, English Literature, Economics, Product Design, Business Studies, Law, Politics
  • A BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Engineering equivalent to three A Levels
  • A BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Applied Science equivalent to three A Levels

In addition, students are offered the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) which carries UCAS points and equips students with the rigorous research skills, so critical in today’s job market. Students will also have a choice from our excellent enrichment programme, which includes Young Enterprise, a Public Speaking qualification and the opportunity to give back to our community by volunteering at the QMC.

June 2024


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