preparing our students for their lives beyond school
The curriculum is the framework on which sits everything we do in school. It combines everything that is planned and delivered in lessons with other learning opportunities in school. Through the curriculum we develop students’ knowledge, skills and understanding, ensure that we have a coherent structure, and prepare our students for their lives beyond school.
A: Vision and Principles
The curriculum is relevant, inspiring and challenging
Our curriculum fosters a love of education, a commitment to lifelong learning and thorough preparation for external exams. We provide a varied and appropriate range of subject options, supported by high quality, inspiring, specialist teachers. The curriculum adapts and responds to the external context of the Trust. Students are able to show progression and achieve their potential in external exams. At KS4, students are able to follow pathways tailored to their individual needs.
Our curriculum is:
- Planned – to prepare students for the next stage of their education, training or employment;
- Relevant – to develop ‘capable, resilient learners’ and employability across the key stages
- Developmental – building knowledge and skills incrementally over time
- Coherent – fitting together in a logical and consistent manner
- Ambitious – to secure strong outcomes in all subjects;
- Flexible – to provide equality of access and opportunity for all students to learn and make progress;
B: Curriculum Themes
Although our timetable reflects subject boundaries, there are important themes that cut across the whole curriculum.
SMSC (Social, Moral, Spiritual, Cultural),
Students’ moral development is shown by their:
- ability to recognise the difference between right and wrong and their readiness to apply this understanding in their own lives
- understanding of the consequences of their actions
- interest in investigating, and offering reasoned views about, moral and ethical issues.
Students’ social development is shown by their:
- use of a range of social skills in different contexts, including working and socialising with students from different religious, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds
- willingness to participate in a variety of social settings, cooperating well with others and being able to resolve conflicts effectively
- interest in, and understanding of, the way communities and societies function at a variety of levels.
Students’ cultural development is shown by their:
- understanding and appreciation of the wide range of cultural influences that have shaped their own heritage
- willingness to participate in, and respond to, for example, artistic, musical, sporting, mathematical, technological, scientific and cultural opportunities
- interest in exploring, understanding of, and respect for cultural diversity and the extent to which they understand, accept, respect and celebrate diversity, as shown by their attitudes towards different religious, ethnic and socio-economic groups in the local, national and global communities.
SMSC is taught through Tutor Time, PSHE lessons, assemblies and discreetly through learning across the curriculum as well as a range of enrichment opportunities such as exchanges / opportunities to participate in educational visits both at home and abroad as well as other activities such as performances and sporting fixtures.
Literacy, Numeracy, Speaking and Listening
Students acquire skills in speaking and listening, literacy and numeracy. Attention is paid to these skills across the curriculum and not just in Mathematics, Science, English and MFL. Students are assessed in literacy and numeracy by formal examinations and tests. Student participation in class at every level ensures that high standards of speaking and listening are maintained, the latter also tested by written work and formal examinations. Questioning and collaborative learning are at the heart of our academic aims and methods, as described in the Teaching and Learning policy.
Lessons are conducted in English; where English is not the students' first language, we ensure that we are satisfied at the point of entry that the student is able to cope with the teaching provided. If not, students receive intensive support from the EAL leader.
Inspire Values / British Values
Running through our Trust are the INSPIRE values of Integrity, Nurture, Success, Perseverance, Innovation, Resilience and Engagement. These are reflected in points awarded to all students for any demonstration of these values and are a feature of Tutor Time and assemblies. INSPIRE values are displayed throughout school, and are explicitly reinforced in lessons. British Values are described and celebrated through the PSHE programme of study, as well as through assemblies, displays and tutor time.
As a Trust, we are committed to meeting the Gatsby benchmarks of:
- A stable careers programme
2. Learning from career and labour market information
3. Addressing the needs of each student
4. Linking curriculum learning to careers
5. Encounters with employers and employees
6. Experiences of workplaces
7. Encounters with further and higher education
8. Personal guidance
A senior member of staff oversees careers to ensure that we meet the guidance. We have developed an Action Plan to ensure that we are on track. For example, from 2018-2019 we expect every student to have at least one opportunity per academic year to have an encounter with someone from the world of work. The Trust currently holds the Career Mark award.
Leadership and Teamwork
Students are encouraged to develop leadership and teamwork skills in a range of contexts:
- Through planned activities in lessons e.g. group work;
- Through planned opportunities outside of lessons e.g. School Council, Student Leader programme
- Through the explicit reinforcement of key values (see above)
We recognise the increasing importance of technology in the modern world and the opportunities it provides to enhance the curriculum. We are committed to increasing the role of technology in teaching and learning. For example, in recent years, we have increased the use of electronic microscopes and visualisers in lessons, and given enrichment opportunities for film making. We have identified technology as a key priority for investment, when funds allow.
Within the overarching vision and themes, departments have developed their own vision for the subject:
- English: Our ambition is to help our students become confident and excellent communicators. We aim to foster a love and appreciation of different cultures, by inspiring curiosity and stimulating creativity. Our students will be successful in expressing themselves in a number of different ways using leadership and teamwork skills. They aspire to produce their best work through perseverance and resilience. They are independent learners with the ability to transfer their skills to a number of different contexts, and have an appreciation of the range of opportunities that excellent communication skills open up at school and beyond.
- Maths: We follow a truly student-centred approach whereby we are flexible enough to adapt to individual students’ educational needs. This enables them to thrive in their chosen future pathway, developing as numerate, enterprising and IT literate individuals. We provide the traction, ambition and drive required to enable learners to meet their genuine potential. We see the importance of identifying synergies between the student’s needs, our varying curriculums and our teaching styles so that we create an excellent learning environment in which they flourish. We always place our students first.
- Science: We endeavour to deliver an engaging curriculum across all key stages and disciplines to inspire, enthuse, challenge and ignite a passion for research, investigation, analysis and evaluation in all of our students. We guide our students to develop literacy, including the ability to observe the natural world, pose questions and pursue answers. Our students are curious, independent, confident thinkers who are able to research, plan, create and design, enabling them to become specialists within our subjects. Outstanding teaching and enrichment opportunities outside of the classroom ensure that all of our students from every background reach their academic potential, preparing 21st century students for a global society.
- MFL: We consider learning a modern foreign language to be a life skill which provides an opening to other cultures. We aim to foster a love and appreciation of different cultures, through stimulating creativity and encouraging curiosity and a positive attitude to other languages and cultures. Our ambition is to use our languages lessons and teaching to help our students become confident and excellent communicators in both their communities and the wider world. Our students are able to express themselves in a number of different ways using more than one language and a wide range of multi-media. Our students aspire to produce their best work with excellent spelling, punctuation and grammar. They are independent learners with the ability to transfer their skills to a number of different contexts. Students are given many opportunities to gain an insight into the lives of others through participation in the numerous school trips to France, Germany, China and Spain. Students also have a unique opportunity to participate in the long-standing German exchange.
- History: Our aim is to create global citizens who are outward thinking and prepared for tomorrow’s challenges. Students learn to look at the world in an open-minded and appreciative way, questioning and explaining what they see. They analyse the wider world to formulate conclusions based on reason and evidence. They explore a range of contentious issues in order to gain tolerance and understanding. Our students have the opportunity to put their learning into action as they visit a range of historical sites, and experience the world as engaged citizens.
- Geography: Our aim is to create global citizens who are outward thinking and prepared for tomorrow’s challenges. Students learn to look at the world in an open-minded and appreciative way, questioning and explaining what they see. They analyse the wider world to formulate conclusions based on reason and evidence, with the aspiration of making the world a better place. Our students have the opportunity to put their learning into action as they visit a range of geographical sites, and experience the world as active citizens and social scientists.
- Physical Education: Our subject area allow pupils to develop a wide range of unique, transferrable and lifelong skills that promote personal and social well-being. Our department develops more than just excellence in sport, it teaches inquisitiveness, creativity, confidence and leadership. We offer a wide range of relevant enrichment activities that contribute to the positive reputation of the Trust within the community. Staff and students build meaningful relationships characterised by respect and a shared ethos where students strive to reach their potential within a culture of excellence.
- Religion, Philosophy and Ethics: Our department is creating young people who are outward thinking and prepared for tomorrow’s challenges. Students learn to look at the world in an open-minded and respectful way; questioning, explaining and reflecting on what they encounter. They will develop their empathy and appreciation of diversity. They explore a range of spiritual beliefs and gain a strong moral compass. Our students have the opportunity to put their learning into action through a range of visiting speakers, workshops and enrichment clubs.
- Media and Photography: Our ambition is to help our students become confident and excellent communicators in both their communities and the wider world. We aim for our students to foster a love and appreciation of different means of visual and written communication, through encouraging curiosity and stimulating creativity. Our students are be able use their creativity to work to a range of professional briefs and to express themselves in a variety of ways using more than one platform and a wide range of multi-media. Our students aspire to produce their best work using high standards of written and visual content. They are independent learners with the ability to transfer their skills and knowledge to a number of different contexts and technologies.
- Music: We encourage students to develop a wide range of unique, transferrable and lifelong skills that promote personal and social well-being. In addition to a Key Stage 3 curriculum that builds a deep and thorough understanding of basic practical and theoretical aspects of music making, we explore the socio-political, historical and cultural influences on musical styles. The wide range of enrichment activities also contribute to the pursuit of excellence, expression, experimentation, inquisitiveness, creativity, confidence, team participation, and leadership within our students. These activities cement our positive reputation within the community. All staff, including visiting instrumental teachers, build strong positive relationships through which industry relevant skills are modelled, and exciting opportunities are created.
- Performing Arts: We encourage students to develop creativity, communication and an interest in the world around them through a range of interactive opportunities, including script work and devising original material. We believe that Drama enables students to become informed citizens who can make a positive and confident contribution to society. As part of our commitment to developing a culture of aspiration and achievement we offer a wide range of enrichment opportunities and work closely with professional bodies to reflect the needs of the wider Arts industry within the curriculum. Staff and students build meaningful relationships characterised by respect and a shared ethos within a culture of excellence.
The school's curriculum follows statutory requirements and the requirements of the National Curriculum. 50 minute lessons provide pace and challenge across curriculum areas. Students are taught in a combination of sets (in the core subjects English, Mathematics and
Science) and mixed ability teaching groups.
Key Stage 3:
All students follow the National Curriculum core and foundation subjects. From Year 7, the vast majority of students will spend three years in Key Stage 3 and two years in Key Stage 4. The curriculum is flexible and able to support personalised pathways in the core subjects of English, Maths, and Science.
During Year 7 students are placed in sets in Mathematics, English and Science based on a range of data including CATs verbal and non-verbal reasoning scores. Comprehensive monitoring and assessment ensures that sets are reviewed regularly, and changes made where necessary. Learning needs are identified and addressed, including those of the more able student. With a clear focus on literacy and numeracy across the key stage, the curriculum and timetable provides a degree of flexibility to accommodate individual needs. An embedded PHSE (Personal, Health and Social Education) is delivered through Key Stage 3. A comprehensive literacy programme is delivered across the curriculum enabling students to see links between areas of learning.
Students will learn at least one language from a choice of French, German and Spanish from Year 7 (with Mandarin available at AWS from Year 8). The co-curricular and CEIAG provides students with an excellent range of enterprise learning experiences throughout the key states with the opportunity to choose vocational subjects such as Business and Health and Social Care as an option and gain accreditation at Key Stage 4.
Key Stage 4
The core curriculum consists of:
- GCSE English Language
- GCSE English Literature
- GCSE Maths
- GCSE Science (Variety of routes suited to individual students)
- PE (non- exam course)
- Modern Studies (non-exam course)
The options process allows students to choose from a variety of academic and/or vocational subjects based on their individual interests. The provision is regularly reviewed and the curriculum currently enables a large proportion of students to meet the EBacc criteria.
At both Key Stages a wide variety of enrichment activities are provided as part of the extended day, with work experience offered to students in Year 10 and Year 12. The curriculum is underpinned by a robust system of Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) across the Trust. This includes careers advice and guidance and the tutor system.
Key Stage 5
The curriculum offers breadth of provision to ensure that the Post 16 provision offers a wide range of A-level courses together with level 3 vocational qualifications and some Level 2 courses to meet the needs of all learners. The sixth form curriculum provides clear pathways of progression with opportunities for students to progress successfully on to university, apprenticeship training, employment or further education.
GCSE re-take English and Maths are available, so that students at all levels may achieve the base-line qualifications needed to progress.