Developing Skills for Study, Work and Life

Our curriculum, developed with colleges, universities and employers, focuses on developing learners who will thrive in the C21st world of life and work. Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS) are an important part of this focus, and schools are delivering these through various contexts. At Thomas Estley, we emphasise these particularly in Modules and through the Year Nine Specialisms afternoon. Our GCSE courses build on these skills and provide a variety of pathways for further study.

Specialisms: A personalised pathway


Tuesday afternoons for Year Nine include a range of specialist contexts, allowing learners to develop knowledge and skills specific to a chosen area in addition to the learning and thinking skills themselves. This is obviously in addition to the normal Year Nine subjects, timetabled across the rest of the week as usual. We know that this Tuesday ‘Specialisms afternoon’, in place now for several years, adds motivation and enjoyment for our learners, in addition to helping them pursue an interest which they may then choose to develop further through their GCSEs and beyond, in or out of school.

Find out more

If you have any questions about a specific specialism, please speak with the relevant lead teacher; or if it is a more general question about Specialisms, you can speak with Mr Fegan during tutor time.

Which specialism?

Leadership and Character skill-building is built into every course - particularly with a focus on developing independent and confident lifelong learners who can apply learning and thinking skills across the curriculum and begin to prepare themselves for the world of work. Your choice will not affect or limit your GCSE option choices. 

You likely have some particular areas of interest and so we operate an option system where you will choose areas of interest and we try, dependent on demand and staffing, to allocate you to one of your preferred areas. If we feel that you would benefit from studying one course in particular, we will discuss this with you. 

See below for information about the different context being offered this year.

Contexts for 2019-20

Arts Award

Teacher: Miss Fisher

Arts Award inspires young people to grow their arts and leadership talents: it is creative, valuable and accessible. We are one of five Centres of Excellence in England for ‘ArtsAward’, allowing accredited achievement at Bronze and Silver levels. See the ArtsAward website for more details and a Thomas Estley case study.


Teacher: Miss Bancroft

Develop the confidence and skills to create and perform in a variety of dance styles that will challenge you mentally and physically. Learn how to stand out from the crowd and communicate your ideas through movement. Be unique, be an individual!


Teacher: Mrs Bryan

Learn what it’s like to run a small business! Students will learn some business basics and compete in a series of business challenges before setting up and running their own social enterprise. Build your leadership skills, turn your ideas into actions and give something back to the community. This specialism will require students to occasionally take part in activities outside normal school hours.

Language Leaders

Teacher: Mrs Anderson

Add a string to your bow by becoming a language leader. Combine the development of your language skills with a chance to lead sessions in our feeder primary schools and to surround yourself with like-minded enthusiasts ready for successful study at GCSE or beyond.

Musical Performance

Teacher: Miss Plumb

Calling all musical performers! Improve your performance skills, learn an instrument, play/sing in ensembles. Prepare the ground for GCSE study.

Programming and Computing

Teacher: Mr Hardy

Learn to program computers, develop applications and find out more about the Internet. Learning to program is a lot of fun once you get the basics. It does involve some technical detail and will be of interest to people who want to find out more about computers and how they work. No previous experience is necessary but you need to enjoy problem solving to benefit from this course.

Sports Education

Teacher: Mr O'Flynn

Change how you get involved in sport - be a sports leader, sports scientist, referee, and learn how to coach others in primary and secondary schools.


Teacher: Mr Hillman

Are you interested in how Science, Technology, English and Maths (STEM) are used in the real world? Combined, the STEM subjects influence and impact on every aspect of modern life and work, and in this new specialism for 2019 we plan to investigate how STEM is used across a range of careers as well as take part in our own experiments and design challenges.

Team Challenge

Teacher: Mr Robinson

Use teamwork skills and take risks to meet and beat challenges. Volunteer in the local community, leading sessions at Primary Schools and Preschool, and meet Army professionals and other team workers.


All students are provided with a Specialisms information leaflet containing the information here and an Option Form. 

Students must complete the Option Form to indicate their preferences and return to Reception by the deadline. If you have lost your form, you can download it from here to print out, or collect a spare from Mr Fegan.