Psychology Curriculum Intent

Psychology is an option subject at Key Stage 5 at John Henry Newman Catholic College. Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behaviour in a given situation or context. Cognitive function is studied within psychology and by  studying Psychology students can identify barriers to their own learning and analyse the impact of this on their learning to overcome the obstacles they may face at Sixth Form. 


At Key Stage 5 (Year 12 and 13) we offer two paths ways into Psychology:

  1. A Level Psychology - this is an 100% exam course with students sitting 2 exams in Year 12 and 3 exams in Year 13. Students will have 2 teachers for A Level Psychology. 
  2. BTEC Applied Psychology - this consists of 2 exams (one sat in Year 12 and one sat in Year 13) and 2 pieces of coursework (one completed in Year 12 and one completed in Year 13). Students will have 2 teachers for BTEC Applied Psychology.  


By having the two pathways, we allow the learners to pick the course that is suited to their ability, interest and preferred working style to allow for the best possible outcomes.


With John Henry Newman being in an area of high social deprivation, students are often faced with an amount of social injustice and blocked opportunities. Psychology allows students to see how humans are different and also how they are similar and thus allows students to use their strengths and weaknesses to their advantage. Although, as an examined subject, we are driven by exam board specifications (EDEXCEL for Applied Psychology and OCR for A Level Psychology) to a certain extent, the Psychology department relates the concepts being taught directly to the needs of the learners that we serve in the community by explaining key concepts in relation to their everyday life as well as introducing the learners to contrasting experiences that they may not have any access to. This not only helps students to achieve highly within the subject but also raises their awareness of the world.


Within A Level Psychology, there are 3 units that we have to deliver. These are Core Studies 1 in Year 12/Core Studies 2 in Year 13, Research Methods in Year 12 and Issues in Applied Psychology in Year 13. Within Issues in Applied Psychology there are 2 optional units, of which we teach Criminal Psychology and Child Psychology as they will give a broader understanding of Psychology in the real world to the learners and a wider knowledge. This will help them both in their future studies and careers. We choose to enter learners for the AS Level Qualification so that they are motivated from the beginning of their studies and can leave at the end of Year 12 with a qualification if that’s what they choose. With the AS Level exam paper being a nice way to introduce students to exam technique in an official capacity, students find the transition easier than jumping straight into the A Level. For this reason, we have designed the curriculum around the topics that students need to learn to be successful in the AS Level. The course is split between two teachers. The teachers take on their own topic throughout the year to enable a more in depth learning experience for the students. 


Overall, Psychology allows learners to have a critical understanding of human behaviour and why people may act the way they do. It also allows students to take ownership of their behaviour and learning as they understand how we behave and why. By being able to carry out their own research, Psychology allows students to practically engage in the world around them to find outcomes to solve a particular problem. Psychology learners can focus on their own skills and develop a lifelong interest in human behavior. These skills are easily transferred to a range of situations that students may find themselves in once leaving education. Psychology can be found in many different disciplines and in any career that involves working with people from teaching and nursing, to a research assistant and working as a psychologist whether forensic, clinical or educational. A psychological learner will gain good analytical skills and an understanding of the world they live in.