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 (both declarative and procedural) is felt to be of greatest value to students, within each subject domain, as they progress throughout the education system and into the world of work. 

Said knowledge is then specified in meticulous detail and sequenced in the order that informed and reflective subject experts feel is best for students’ long-term memory retention. 

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

To summarise, across the curriculum, we aim to provide rigorous, diverse content, carefully chosen and coherently sequenced to ensure students have the ‘best of what’s been thought and said’ in each subject stored in their long-term memory, and can apply this confidently and skillfully in ways recognised as valuable by each discipline. 

In order to achieve this, we follow the steps below to deliver powerful knowledge that is:

  1. Specified in detail, regularly reviewed in departments, and well understood and critiqued by students.
  2. Well-sequenced with clear connections between current and prior learning, routinely and explicitly drawn upon in lessons; and well understood and explained by students.
  3. Implemented through efficient, evidence-based methods that are mindful of the limitations of working memory;
  4. Evaluated through routine, robust assessment practices that facilitate responsive teaching and the systematic addressing of students’ misconceptions.

In enacting the above, our KS3 curriculum is three years in length and delivered through the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP) framework. This grants us the autonomy to be global and outward facing in our selection of curriculum content; it also encourages conceptual framing, which creates connections to students’ prior experience and facilitates deeper understanding of subject content; finally, it provides criterion-referenced assessment framework, which allows for accurate, department and trust-wide moderation of student work.

Implementation:

Our taught curriculum is delivered in one hour blocks, with 24 lessons per week.  Students study a full range of subjects at Key Stage 3, including: English, Maths, Science, Spanish, History, Geography, RE, Art, DT, Music, Drama, Computing and PE.  Learning is supported by a weekly lesson entitled LAB Learner, which supports the IB MYP approaches to learning, SMSC and PSHE tutor time curriculum.

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 framework of principles for teaching and learning set out below.

Reviewing material:

Engaging students in cumulative retrieval practice through regular, low-stakes quizzing;

Sequencing concepts: 

Presenting new material using small steps;

Having students engage critically with inquiry-based questions once their conceptual understanding 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;

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 strengthening retrieval pathways 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. That is to say, when we assess, whether formatively or summatively, we are evaluating the gap between the intended curriculum and its implementation. The principles which govern assessment at LAB (for each department) can be found below:

  • Test the knowledge specified in meticulous detail in the curriculum map;
  • Ensure the assessment is valid (that it does not unfairly rely on students’ reading comprehension);
  • That it is a hybrid of both a quality and difficulty model of assessment (thereby testing both knowledge and its extended application [in a manner recognise as valuable in each distinct subject area];
  • That it is promotes targeted, responsive teaching and intervention, in both the short and long 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, 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, as it is implemented.

Key Stage 3 Curriculum:

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