Curriculum

Intent

We believe that every learner is entitled to an enriching, varied and personalised education: delivered through a broad and balanced curriculum that provides challenge, irrespective of need, starting point or background. Our commitment to maximising the potential of every child, teaching them the skills they need to be successful and nurturing a desire to be a lifelong learner, will prepare them for whichever career path they choose to follow.  

At Leigh Academy Blackheath (LAB), we believe that successful curriculum design begins with identifying which knowledge is felt to be of greatest value to students, within each subject, as they progress throughout the education system and into the world of work. 

Said knowledge is then specified in detail and sequenced in the order that maximises retention in students’ long-term memory, so that they may apply this confidently and skillfully in ways recognised as valuable by each subject. 

The implementation of said, powerful knowledge is then evaluated through assessment, informing teacher actions that will improve student outcomes.

KS3

Our KS3 curriculum is three years in length and delivered through the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IBMYP) framework. This grants us the freedom to be outward facing in our selection of curriculum content; it also encourages conceptual understanding, by connecting students’ prior learning to current content; finally, it provides a criterion-referenced assessment framework, which means students’ work is evaluated against the curriculum (rather than the work of their peers) to identify strengths and misconceptions. 

KS4

Our KS4 curriculum is built on the aforementioned principles – of international mindedness and conceptual understanding – which, in accordance with the IBMYP, we have embedded at KS3. It is for this reason that, excepting those few cases where doing so would unfairly disadvantage students’ chances to achieve elsewhere, the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is studied by all in KS4 at LAB. This means that, in addition to the ‘core’ subjects (of Language and Literature, Maths and Science), students select an Individuals & Societies subject (Geography or History) and an additional language (Spanish). The EBacc offers our students access to greater opportunities in further education, and the full range of employment options when they leave secondary school. It also ensures students are not narrowing their options too early.

Implementation

At KS3, our taught curriculum is delivered in one hour blocks, with 24 lessons per week.  Students study the full range of National Curriculum subjects at Key Stage 3, including: Language and Literature, Maths, Science, Language Acquisition (Spanish), Individuals and Societies (Geography, History and RE), the Arts (Art, Drama and Music), Design (DT and Computing) and Physical Education.  Learning is supported by a weekly lesson entitled LAB Learner, which supports the IBMYP approaches to learning, SMSC and PSHE tutor time curriculum.

At KS4, in addition to the EBacc, our year 9 students presently have the option of choosing any two of the following subjects: Computer Science, Design and Technology, Drama, Fine Art, Music, Photography, Physical Education, Religious Studies and Separate Science. This streamlined offering builds on the subjects students have studied at KS3, therefore encouraging greater depth of understanding; whilst also ensuring consistency of high-quality provision across both key stages (a broader options package is something we intend to explore in future years, as Covid-19 based restrictions lift and allow for more rigorous recruitment of KS4 subject specialists). 

Across both Key Stages, LAB places great importance on the development of reading skills and has a 1 hour daily reading expectation for all students. This includes 5 minute silent reading at the start of every lesson, with progress monitored and tracked through the Accelerated Reader programme. Students who are not secondary ready when they join the academy undertake a programme of additional learning opportunities to improve their literacy and numeracy skills.

At LAB, we create a learning climate that allows all of our pupils to make consistent progress such that they will excel, personally and professionally, in their future lives. To achieve this, we are guided by the principles of teaching and learning set out below.

Reviewing material

Engaging students in cumulative recapping of knowledge through regular, low-stakes quizzing.

Sequencing concepts 

Presenting new material using small steps;

Having students engage critically with inquiry-based questions once their understanding of content is secure.

Questioning

Employing a range of differentiated questioning techniques to check for understanding;

Stages of practice

Being explicit about what we want pupils to do, setting out the key steps (with worked examples) that pupils will have to repeat in order to complete a task successfully;

Having pupils engage in extended independent thinking and practice on a regular basis;

Obtaining a high success rate which meets the needs of all learners.

High expectations

Delivering academically-challenging content that exposes students to the best of what has been thought and said in each subject;

Supporting students in the self-managing of uniform, punctuality, equipment and conduct in line with the behaviour policy;

Supporting students in the development of strong communication skills appropriate to a scholarly learning environment; 

Promoting academic honesty as part of a learner profile that develops personal honesty and the responsible use of information technology.

Although many of these features would be expected to appear in most lessons, it is important to note that we are not prescriptive about either the structure of lessons or the forms these principles might take. Instead, we recognise the diverse approaches employed by different teachers and subject areas across the academy, and know that a varied diet of experience is healthy and beneficial for our broad range of learners. Our staff are expected to regularly engage in evidence-informed professional development in ways which enhance their individual expertise, flair and creativity.

Impact

At LAB, we recognise that the assessment process can help us to learn, by recapping knowledge and interrupting the forgetting process. Tracking data is also necessary to ensure that every child’s learning trajectory is noticed, but assessment is not an end in itself; rather, it is a tool. 

The role of assessment at LAB is to evaluate whether pupils have successfully acquired the knowledge and skills that we wish them to, and to facilitate responsive teaching to address misconceptions. The principles which govern assessment at LAB (for each department) can be found below:

  • Test the knowledge specified in detail on the curriculum map;
  • Ensure the assessment is valid (that it does not unfairly rely on students’ reading comprehension);
  • Ensure that each assessment tests knowledge and its extended application (in a manner recognised as valuable by each subject);
  • That assessments are used to promote targeted, responsive teaching and intervention, in both the short and longer term.

Further evidence of the impact of our curriculum will be apparent in the outcomes of bi-annual LAT assessments and the comparison of LAB results against other trust academies and educational institutions delivering the IB MYP globally.  Minimal difference between the achievement and progress levels of vulnerable groups with other students will also provide powerful evidence of a strong taught curriculum.

In addition to the above, analysis of the number of students participating in co-curricular activities and community projects, combined with the levels of attendance, punctuality and positive behaviour for learning records, as well as students’ interactions in their digital classrooms, will indicate the level of student engagement with learning and the total curriculum. At LAB, we believe that positive attitudes to learning and respect for the academy and the wider community constitute a key indicator of the success of our curriculum.

Key Stage 3 Curriculum

Click on the links below to view the Curriculum details for each Key Stage 3 subject:

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