Our Curriculum - Park Vale Academy

Intent

“Schools must develop a modern, world-class curriculum that will inspire and challenge all learners and prepare them for the future.” (Mick Waters)

We define the curriculum as everything which happens in school; everything which is taught and learned. In that sense, it is not just about the knowledge and skills delivered in lessons but also the vast array of opportunities and experiences we offer to our students outside the classroom through such things as: participation in extra-curricular provision (web link), going on school trips and visits, taking on specific leadership roles, and other types of involvement in the broader life of the academy and the community which it serves.

Our core purpose is to ensure our students achieve highly and become well-rounded individuals. Our curriculum is based on the following four principles:

  • High expectations of all students
  • Valuing and celebrating academic achievement
  • Outstanding teaching
  • Widening students' experiences through a range of extra-curricular experiences, including sports and the performing arts.

We provide a knowledge-rich curriculum where knowledge is taught to be remembered and is intrinsically entwined with skills.   We increase the likelihood that our students will be able to recall and use what we teach by helping them engage their prior knowledge and connect new information to their prior understanding. A wide range of memory and recall techniques are also taught and embedded across all subjects.

Within our curriculum literacy is prioritised with a programme of DEAR [Drop Everything and Read] time to ensure students read sufficiently well to access the full curriculum offer. We aim to nurture students to develop a love of reading as well as becoming proficient in this area.

Our curriculum:

  • is inclusive and meets the needs of all our students no matter their starting point, background or need, affording them an equal chance to succeed;
  • is broad and balanced for all our students to acquire meaningful knowledge and skills for future success in life;
  • is coherently planned and logically sequenced to consolidate and build on prior learning and to ensure all students acquire the intended knowledge and skills;
  • offers a wide range of extra-curricular opportunities that prepares our students for life in the modern world. 

Embedded throughout the curriculum is the knowledge and cultural capital our students need to be successful in life.

‘it is the essential knowledge that pupils need to be educated citizens, introducing them to the best that has been thought and said and helping them to engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement ‘

(Source: Ofsted School Inspection Handbook September 2019)

Our strong vision to promote tolerance and understanding across all students is unwavering.  We instil in our students an appreciation of our ethos and core values through the “Vale-ues” framework identified by the acronym DRIVE 

  • D emocracy
  • R esponsibility
  • I ndependence
  • V aluing Others
  • E quality

We don’t just look after the academic progress and achievement of students. We recognise the importance of the emotional health and wellbeing of all our students. PHSE, SMSC and British values (Link to website) form an important part of our curriculum. These aspects are embedded across the curriculum with additional activities taking place during tutor time, assemblies, enrichment activities and during special events during the school year.  We aim to equip our students with the knowledge and skills that enable them to make the right choices to ensure that they lead safe and secure lives.

Our embedded programme of career education (link to website) and guidance recognises that students have different career guidance needs at different stages. Opportunities for advice and support are tailored to the needs of each student. We strive to ensure that students understand the range of learning opportunities that are available to them and support them with their aspirations. This includes both academic and vocational routes and learning in schools, colleges, universities and in the workplace. We are proud of our First Destination NEET (pupils NOT in education, employment or training) figures being zero most years.

Implementation 

Years 7 and 8

Curriculum map Y7 (click on link)

Curriculum map Y8 (click on link)

These curriculum maps show the order in which the knowledge is taught, providing the building blocks for what students need to know to be able to succeed in each subject. Learning activities build on prior knowledge allowing students to connect ideas and deepen their knowledge.

In terms of the taught curriculum we offer the maximum breadth possible at Years 7 and 8 so that students are able to experience as many different subjects as possible before narrowing down their choices. So typically, as well as the core of English, Maths and Science, students will have the opportunity to study all 3 Humanities subjects (Geography, History and RE), alongside at least one modern foreign language. We are also committed to ensuring that students are given the opportunity to develop as confident performers with Music and Drama compulsory for all as well as regular lessons in Physical Education. Finally, in order to prepare our young people for the challenges of a rapidly changing world, we have a strong focus on STEM with all schools offering students experience of IT and Design and Technology.

In Year 8, to stretch our more-able students they study French in addition to Spanish.

A separate, small and select, target group of students in Years 7 and 8 are withdrawn from Spanish lessons to provide additional time for them to undertake extra lessons in English and maths. This enables the curriculum to reflect the academy’s local context by addressing identified gaps in our students’ knowledge and skills.

Years 9 – 11

At the heart of our curriculum for years 9 -11 is a strong academic core. A large proportion of our students are expected to study the EBacc suite of subjects in order to provide the knowledge, skills and challenge to lead them on to more aspirational goals in the future.

We believe strongly that the increased knowledge content of the new GCSE exams combined with the vast number of separate papers each student will have to take at the end of Year 11 require a longer period of study than the traditional two-year course was able to provide. By stretching our programmes of study over a 3-year period, students are able to interrogate topics in greater depth and reinforce key skills that then provide accelerated progress over time. However, Year 9 is seen as a "Transition Year" in which students are given the opportunity to develop the basic skills required to tackle the requirements of the actual GCSE course from the start of Year 10.

Subjects studied still include all statutory areas, including PSHE/careers education. Students opt for four other subjects to study to GCSE level or equivalent. The offer is broad and enables progression through to key stage 5 in all areas.  Our curriculum is driven by our vision and values; the underlying motivation has always been linked to breadth, mental health and wellbeing. We frequently review with curriculum leaders in light of changing cohorts and feedback from students and parents.

The English Baccalaureate

We believe that for the vast majority of students, the addition of a modern foreign language and either Geography or History to the core offer is entirely appropriate and necessary in order to provide them with a balanced but challenging experience. For this reason, we guide the choices of students so that as many as possible study a strong academic core of subjects such as those offered by the EBacc. The profile of our students and rigorous careers guidance embedded within the options process mean that typically 50-60 per cent or more students follow an EBacc suite of subjects.

However, we also acknowledge that for a minority of students the full EBacc is not appropriate either due to ability or because their skills and interests lie in other areas. As an academy which values some of the more practical subjects on offer and the world of performing arts, we believe it is reasonable and proper that some students are allowed to choose those subjects which play to their particular strengths and skills.

Further information on the National Curriculum can be found on the Department of Education Website following the links below:

National Curriculum in England: Secondary Curriculum

National Curriculum in England: Framework for Key Stages 1 - 4


How is the Curriculum Organised?

Year 7 and Year 8

Students study for 25 hours per week. This is comprised of 5 one hour lessons each day. The table below shows how many hours per fortnight are allocated in each subject area. The timetable spans two weeks totalling a 50-hour cycle.

Subject

Year 7 / hours per fortnight.

Year 8 / hours per  fortnight.

English

8

8

Maths

8

8

Science

6

6

History

4

4

Geography

4

4

Religious Education

2

2

Spanish

4

4

Design Technology

2

2

ICT

2

2

Art

2

2

Drama

2

2

Music

2

2

PE

4

4

 

The curriculum is further enhanced by DEAR time [Drop Everything and Read] and literacy continues to be a whole school priority. The wider curriculum is accessed within tutor time, assembly and other deeper learning opportunities throughout the year.

Stretch and challenge is provided to our more-able students [ the top set in both bands] who study French as an additional language to Spanish in Year 8.  The academy is actively widening reading intervention in line with Trust policy in that all students who are reading below their below chronological age can access intervention.

All year 7 & 8 students, with a significantly low reading age compared to their chronological age, receive two hours extra of reading/ English lessons a week replacing their Spanish lessons. Extra-curricular activities allow these students to study Spanish should they wish to do so. 

Years 9 -11

All students study a balanced core curriculum of:

  • GCSE English
  • GCSE English Literature
  • Maths
  • Combined or Triple Sciences
  • RE
  • PE

In addition to this, students are able to select other subjects from the broad offer they have experienced in Years 7 and 8 to compliment the core and tailor their own timetable to their particular aptitudes and interests.  We have made great efforts to increase the breadth of our offer in Years 9-11  to ensure that students have as wide a variety of subjects as possible to choose from. With this in mind, we have increased the number of option students are able to study from 3 to 4 for the Year 9 cohort in 2019/20 and subsequent years. Students are guided in their curriculum pathways choices of which there are currently 5 available meeting the needs of all our students; Triple EBacc, EBacc, Standard, Extra English/ Maths and Foundation learners.

The list of subjects that students can choose from are as follows: 

  • Art
  • Business and Enterprise
  • Child Development & Care
  • Computer Science
  • Dance
  • Design Technology
  • Ethics and Religion
  • Food
  • Foundation Learning
  • French
  • Geography
  • Health & Social Care
  • History
  • I Media
  • Music
  • PE [GCSE]
  • Performing Arts
  • Photography
  • Spanish
  • Triple Science

Option Booklet

The table below shows how many hours a fortnight is allocated to each subject area in our 2019 / 20 curriculum. 

Subjects 

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

English

10

10

10

Maths

8

8

10

Science

8

10

10

Religious Education

2

2

-

Physical Education

2

2

2

Option 1

5

6

6

Option 2

5

6

6

Option 3

5

6

6

Option 4

5

-

-


The Wider Curriculum

The wider curriculum is an essential part of each students’ learning and allows them to learn about life in its widest context. We encourage and celebrate our students’ participation in these opportunities through our pledge system (link to website). The vast array of opportunities and experiences we offer to our students outside the classroom through such things as: participation in extra-curricular provision (link to website), going on school trips and visits, taking on specific leadership roles, and other types of involvement in the broader life of the academy and the community which it serves.

Some specific examples include:

  • School Trips, Visits and Residentials 
  • Performing Arts events
  • Sports Teams
  • The Trust Games events
  • Lunchtime or after school clubs and societies
  • Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme
  • Involvement in School Charities
  • Positions of responsibility and leadership available to students such as Sports Leaders, Performing Arts Captains.
  • Inter-House activities and competitions
  • International Links
  • Targeted assemblies and guest-speakers
  • School Memorials and acts of Remembrance
  • Foreign Exchanges
  • Careers Guidance and Work Experience

 

 For further information about the curriculum please contact Mrs T Meeks - Assistant Head Teacher