This CRST rationale explains the principles of how we have designed the curriculum for pupils and how these principles underpin how we have selected the things we want them to learn.  

This subject-specific rationale demonstrates how we have selected what we want pupils to learn and how the order has been arrived at so that pupils make progress in their learning.  We have a three – year Key Stage 3 building on Key Stage 2 and leading into KS 4 and 5. 

Our vision for Spanish 

To develop learners who are: 

Learners who can: 

Culturally aware 

Problem solvers 


Grammatically aware 

Global citizens 



Use transferable skills 

Take part in role plays 

Hold a conversation 




Justify points of view on a range of topics 

Manipulate grammar 


The content of our Curriculum for Spanish 

Language teaching is changing and moving away from a traditional approach of teaching through topics. We are currently teaching a blended approach based on the 3 pillars of phonics, grammar and vocabulary into which we add relevant content. The scheme is research-informed & in line with the new Ofsted framework. The Schemes of Work are examples of how language knowledge and practice can be sequenced and re-visited systematically to support progression and help students to know more and remember more. NCELP’s work is in line with the Teaching School Council’s 2016 MFL Pedagogy Review which drew on research into foreign language learning and teaching and on the knowledge and experience of a wide range of experienced practitioners. The SoW are in line with Ofsted’s current aspirations for curriculum intent, implementation, and impact and will transition into the new GCSE which will be taught for the first time in 2024 


Within the approach, skill starts as structured, supported understanding (listening and reading) and meaningful production (speaking and writing), and gradually builds to freer production, in which learners recall and manipulate a wider range of language to communicate meaning. We revisit key grammar points regularly to reinforce and embed knowledge and confidence, gradually adding to the complexity throughout the key stages and ensuring student knowledge and understanding is embedded. We include cultural elements and references to Spanish speaking countries to build up student appreciation of other cultures. 


We teach Spanish to all students in KS3 and all are given the opportunity to progress to GCSE. Spanish is taught in mixed ability groups in years 7 and 8 which means differentiation is used and where possible we have TAs working with students who find language learning challenging. Students are set for Y9 which enables us to tailor our teaching to ensure students are secure in their knowledge ready for GCSE which is examined at 2 different levels Foundation up to grade 5 and Higher up to grade 9.   

Students will be assessed on the basis of 1,200 ‘word families’ at foundation tier GCSE and 1,700 ‘word families’ in higher tier GCSE. An example of a word family could be ‘manage’, ‘managed’ and ‘manages’. In the updated GCSEs, students will be assessed on the most common vocabulary used in conversations and writing, as well as grammar and pronunciation, increasing clarity for teachers and improving the practical benefits for students.  

Research shows that a focus on these ‘building blocks’ enables students to more clearly see progress in their ability to understand and use the language, and in turn grow in confidence and motivation. The changes aim to fulfil the government’s ambition for 90% of Year 10 pupils to study EBacc subjects for GCSE by September 2025. Exam boards will select topics and themes to inform the selection of key vocabulary, as opposed being prescribed in the subject content. At least 85 per cent of the ‘word families’ will be selected from the 2,000 most frequently occurring words in a language to make sure students have a good knowledge of the most common words  

Y11 2022-2023 66 students studying Spanish GCSE. 47% of year group 

Y11 2023-2024 20 students studying Spanish GCSE. 16% of year group (reduction of number of options avaialble to students) 

Y10 2023-2024 44 students studying Spanish GCSE. 36% of year group 


The organising concepts shown below form the basis for our curriculum. 







Knowing the key elements of a sentence and which specific language alters the syntax of a sentence  

Production of syntactically correct sentences in the TL  

Knowing how to correctly conjugate regular and irregular verbs  

Making the transition from an infinitive to a conjugated verb independently (forming paradigms)  

Knowing the rules governing the formation of the three main tenses  

Ability to turn an infinitive verb into the past, present and future tenses  

Understanding and identifying key elements of genders of nouns  

Using correct forms of definite/indefinite articles, adjectives, nouns, verbs, and pronouns depending on gender  

Knowing the rules governing the formation of questions  

Ability to turn a statement into a question  

Ability to recognise and produce language through correct use of phonics  

Accurate pronunciation and intonation and advanced listening skills  


Awareness of different registers and when to use them  

Applying use of correct register in everyday transactions and dialogues  

Knowledge of the elements needed for effective spoken and written language  

Speaking accurately and fluently with good pronunciation, accent, and intonation. Producing written language fit for purpose.   

Knowing how to successfully convey information from one language to another  

Translation and localisation between two languages.  

Coping with unexpected situations and unpredicted/unrehearsed language  

Rephrasing and repairing language. Adapting to the realities of real-life communication.  

Developing spoken and written language beyond a basic response, including, where appropriate, narration.  

Application of connectives, lexical structures, and opinion/reason/justification phrases  


Knowing how to decode spoken language effectively  

Transcribing spoken Target Language accurately and spontaneously.  

Understanding the key elements (vocabulary and structure) needed to listen or read for gist in a specific context.  

Understanding the overarching message in a spoken or written place (by skimming and scanning)  

Appreciation of a range of spoken and written media (cultural/authentic/literary)  

Ability to comprehend, interpret and discern key points from given text/extract  

Identifying "triggers" or "red herrings" in a given spoken or written context.  

Taking into account "triggers" and coping with "red herrings" to answer questions and form conclusions accordingly  

Acquiring and maintaining a cumulative, wide vocabulary base for comprehension purposes.  

Ability to recall and apply vocabulary to a range of cross thematic stimuli. Ability to infer meaning in new and/or unfamiliar situations.  

Knowledge of viable and audible key features (triggers) of tenses of regular and irregular verbs  

Differentiating between time frames for the purposes of responding to comprehension tasks on a range of texts and extracts (literary/authentic/cultural)  


What makes the TL country different to the UK?  

Defining and describing the key cultural aspects of the TL countries  

What do we have in common with the TL country/what is to be celebrated?  

Comparing and contrasting the cultures of the TL countries and England/the UK.  

How culture has evolved in the TL country.  

Drawing conclusions about the TL countries based on key facts and figures  

The role TL countries play in Europe and the world.   

Understanding, appreciating, and evaluating the key features of TL film, literature, art and music.  

Basic facts and figures about the TL country (demography, area, topography, climate, industry)  

Deconstructing stereotypes about the TL countries and their peoples.   

An appreciation of popular culture of the TL (cinema, music, film, art, architecture, danse etc)  


An awareness of current events in the TL culture  



The West Midlands/Bham and the UK's place within Europe and the wider world  

Thinking beyond the town you live in to think more globally  

CEIAG/World beyond school links  

Considering and evaluating opportunities for us beyond our local area  

The role and impact of the TL country on world history, culture and development  

Considering and evaluating the role and impact of the TL country on world history, culture and development  

A knowledge of the geography and culture of the TL countries  

Pinpointing the relative location of countries where the TL language and culture are prevalent.  

An understanding of the economic interdependence between countries and regions  


Appreciating the importance of internationalism in the personal sphere (further & higher education and work)  




All children have the right to access a rich and varied curriculum, but we acknowledge that they learn at different rates and that we need to use a variety of methods to ensure they are well rounded learners. 

We differentiate our resources and homework tasks for students. The final GCSE exam is split into Foundation and Higher which includes a common section. There is a strong emphasis on the acquisition of grammar and vocabulary to facilitate communication and the building up of reading and listening skills which contributes to whole school literacy. 

We aim to increase all students’ knowledge of culture and their enjoyment of language learning through using a variety of media including films and songs. 

Phonics and the development of oracy and reading are importamt parts of our curriculum which also aid whole school literacy. 

Overview and Assessment Information 

Please refer to the subject Curriculum and Assessment Overview document for an overview of specific topics and assessments.  

Assessment timeframes can be found in the subject Scheme of Assessment. 

Dependent on the number of lessons per year group we aim to cover a set number of topics with assessment of the 4 skills at the end of the topic. We also mark assigned tasks on a more regular basis. 


Topic 1 

Topic 2 

Topic 3 

Topic 4 


















Topical Issues 

EOY Exam 






EOY Exam 





Global Issues 

Mock 1 Mock 2 GCSE  





New Ofsted framework: evidence criteria and collection 



“Do leaders have a clear and ambitious vision, for example, for providing high-quality, inclusive education to all pupils?” 
p.5, Ofsted, 2019a). 

Note: intent means ‘everything up to the point of implementation.’ 
Judgements about curriculum intent concern the extent to which there is: 

  • NC or curriculum of similar breadth and ambition 

  • careful thinking about what students will know and be able to do at the end points  

  • curriculum sequencing to build knowledge and skills towards the identified end points 

  • subject content that has been identified as most useful 

  • logical progression, systematic and sufficiently explicit teaching to enable all pupils to acquire the intended knowledge and skills (p.44, Ofsted, 2019b). 


The most important factors are that teachers: 

  • have expert knowledge of the subject(s) and courses they teach…  

  • enable students to understand key concepts, presenting information clearly and encourage appropriate discussion 

  • check learners’ understanding effectively, and identify and correct misunderstandings. 

  • ensure that students embed key concepts in their long-term memory and apply them fluently.  

  • use assessment well, for example to help learners embed and use knowledge fluently or to check understanding and inform teaching… 

  • select resources and materials – in a way that does not create unnecessary workload for staff –  that … support the intent of a coherently planned curriculum, sequenced towards cumulatively sufficient knowledge and skills for future learning and employment  


  • learners develop detailed knowledge and skills across the curriculum and, as a result, achieve well. Where relevant… 

  • learners are ready for the next stage of education, employment or training. Where relevant, … 

Judgements about impact will come from the following sources; 

  • the progress that students make in terms of knowing more, remembering more and being able to do more 

  • discussions with students about what they remember from the content they have studied 

  • at KS4, relevant outcomes in national tests will be considered 

Personal development 

  • the curriculum extends beyond the academic, technical or vocational. It provides for learners’ broader development, enabling them to develop and discover their interests and talents  

  • the curriculum and the provider’s wider work support learners to develop their character – including their resilience, confidence and independence…   

  • the provider prepares learners for life in modern Britain by:   

  1. equipping them to be responsible, respectful, active citizens who contribute positively to society   

  1. developing their understanding of fundamental British values   

  1. developing their understanding and appreciation of diversity   

  1. celebrating what we have in common and promoting respect for the different protected characteristics as defined in law 


Evidence collection at subject level [deep dive] 

  • evaluation of curriculum leaders’ long- and medium-term thinking and planning, including the rationale for content choices and curriculum sequencing 

  • visits to a deliberately and explicitly connected sample of lessons (4-6 lessons from at least 2 year groups) 

  • work scrutiny of books (minimum 6 books) or other kinds of work produced by pupils who are part of classes that have also been (or will also be) observed by inspectors  

  • discussion with teachers to understand how the curriculum informs their choices about content and sequencing to support effective learning   

  • discussions with a group of pupils from the lessons observed 


Evidence of progress = evidence that students know more, remember more and can do more 

Curriculum coverage does not in itself demonstrate that students know or remember more. 


NCELP curriculum planning 



The pedagogy is research-led and practice-informed (and engagement with it therefore strengthen subject teachers’ specialist knowledge). 

Learning is carefully planned to support progression for the vast majority of learners at KS3* within a low exposure foreign language setting.   

Progression is determined by the functions of grammar, and the frequency and usefulness of vocabulary and phonics, and aims to avoid introducing too much language too fast. 

In general, across KS3, this means: 
Phonics – paced, explicit teaching of new sound-symbol correspondences (SSC) initially in Y7, followed by integrated revisiting and consolidation throughout KS3 
Vocabulary – teaching of ten new words, on average, per week (assuming a curriculum model of two lessons per week), in sets of words from different parts of speech, including the most common verbs, and selected on the basis of word frequency and additionally informed by scrutiny of the awarding body vocabulary lists. 
Grammar – no more than one new grammatical function every two weeks. 
‘End points’ denote planned progression to the end of KS3 and KS4: 

Phonics – confidence in understanding and producing the key SSC by the end of KS3. 
Vocabulary – 360 words approx. per year at KS3 and KS4. 
Grammar – high-frequency grammar functions taught and revisited several times over KS3 and KS4, in particular features for persons, subjects, tenses and aspect and a range of key syntax (word order and relations between words). 


Systematic and explicit teaching / clear presentation 
Phonics – specific SSC are practised initially with the symbol alone, in a source word and a series of cluster words, then subsequently in sentences and passages. Learners practise previously taught SSCs in combination in a variety of activities, and show increasing confidence. 
Vocabulary – planned sets of new words are learnt by connecting word, meaning and function, through oral and written activities, and in information gap tasks. Vocabulary is re-visited systematically in new contexts, and in extended, less or un-scaffolded activities 
Grammar – specific grammar features are presented explicitly and succinctly, using grammatical terminology, then practised thoroughly in input and production, which becomes more open-ended and less structured over time. 


Long-term retention and retrieval  
NCELP SOW explicitly build in planned re-visiting of language knowledge, and include four ‘broad types’ of re-visiting: within about a week; within about a month; within about a term; within a year. 

Grammar features and high-frequency vocabulary and phonics are recycled in new semantic fields and different contexts, which strengthens the knowledge base. 
Planning includes regular, low-stakes knowledge checks, supported by strategic use of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) tools, pre- and post-lesson. 


Effective checking of learner understanding 

NCELP resources build in frequent checks, often item-by-item in initial presentation and input practice activities. 


Careful selection of new language for teacher and student use ensures that meanings are consistently clear. 


Judicious use of images and gestures can support meanings, but in the presentation of new vocabulary, L1 translations are often provided as the quickest, clearest way to establish the word-meaning connection. 


Understanding and expressing meaning 
In limited exposure learning contexts, a robust foundation of language knowledge is an important prerequisite for both understanding and expressing meaning in the new language.  

By teaching thoroughly the most frequent and useful phonics, vocabulary and grammar knowledge, the expectation is that learners’ motivation is fed by a sense of progress and increased confidence. 


Structured opportunities for learners to personalise their vocabulary and meaning-making are also important, as are rich text resources that combine cognitive and affective dimensions,  


Additional opportunities to engage in language and language-related activities beyond the classroom contribute to several aspects of personal development, including: 

 - character development (resilience, confidence and independence) 

- global citizenship 
  - understanding and appreciation of diversity 
- openness towards and acceptance of others and otherness 



Spanish Curriculum Page