Our aim is to continue to provide a world class education into our secondary setting, providing curriculum and enrichment activities that are innovative and inspiring for students.
Within this context all of our academies will offer our Literacy for Life (L4L)curriculum at Key Stage 3. This thematic and competency based curriculum is technology and experience rich and provides an excellent precursor to Key Stage 4.
Focus Days are an extension of the immersive learning experience provided by L4L and are an integral part of the delivery mechanism for outstanding education at Key Stage 4 and 5.
We are a Trust that believes in traditional values enhanced by technological innovation. Our Behaviour Management Services (BMS) support the teaching and learning process by ensuring that any behaviour that interrupts teaching or the good running order of the Academies are dealt with swiftly and fairly, ensuring that communication with families is followed through.
Students in all of our Academies take examinations in Design Technology. We believe that this subject supports and develops the skills that students need in a modern workplace. Skills such as collaboration, problem-solving, creativity all delivered through a technology rich curriculum.
The Arts are a major force for developing students self confidence. Our relationship with the Birmingham Hippodrome is a contributing factor to the quality of delivery.
We value greatly our partnerships with all external agencies and these greatly enhance the opportunities for students to contextualise their learning and shape their thought regarding future careers.
- Literacy for life – L4L
- What is a Theme?
- Strong and Compassionate Behaviour and Pastoral Care
- Design for All
At KS3, our students study the well-established Literacy for Life programme developed at Shireland Collegiate Academy over the past 9 years. Students who have been through this KS3 programme have consistently topped the authorities value added charts.
In 2013/14, Ofsted published its paper “Key Stage 3: the wasted years?” detailing that in traditional KS3 curricula students were low priority, challenge low and transition poorly managed leading to an attainment dip. These challenges are met through the L4L curriculum detailed below.
The key pillars of this methodology are:
Students in this methodology have 17 hours with the same teacher in Year 7, 13 hours in Year 8 and 8 hours in the first half of Year 9. Instantly, students and families have a single point of contact within the school who has a focus on the academic and pastoral wellbeing of the students in their class. This allows the same level of intense focus and intervention on students in KS3 as KS4. Students are taught in a Year 7 and Year 8 base which again eases the transition process.
This curriculum integrates subjects as shown below into themes.
A theme is a topic usually between around six week long which the students use as a hook to base their learning on. The underpinning philosophy is that students learn better in context than in isolation.
Themes in totality cover all of the areas of the national curriculum, but not every theme contains a full balance of every subject. Some might be more Geography based, while another may contain more drama. By writing the curriculum in this way it allows for stronger experiences and more extended blocks of time to produce high quality outcomes. This way there is an opportunity for in depth learning but with the full curriculum balance across the year.
Themes have within them certain key characteristics. A large piece of extended writing, time set aside for developing reading, and a number of competencies that the students will develop. A student can perform a piece of diary writing in a great fire of London Based theme or an instructional manual in a theme based on robotics.
All learning is audienced and experiential, working with a range of learning partners from businesses, the arts and wider local community, bringing expertise into the school learning environment.
Music, Languages, Physical Education, Dance and Design Technology are taught outside of the integrated curriculum though will occasionally have a presence in themes. Arts are an important part of what the Free School will offer. Alongside a strong Arts curriculum, students will have the opportunity to be part of the Hippodrome sponsored Theatre School at the Secondary Academy, with professionals from the world of theatre working with students on a weekly basis.
L4L teachers work as teams, blending their subject specialisms and joint planning and training each other. They have more of a pastoral link to students than traditional teachers and this model allows them to truly understand the needs of the students in their care.
Our schools actively promote that all pupils have a right to learn and allow others to learn as well. We encourage positive attitudes to learning and endeavour to create the right atmosphere for effective learning, enabling and supporting pupils to work both independently and cooperatively. We believe in a full and dynamic enrichment programme for all.
Pastoral support is integrated at KS3 with the L4L structure lending itself to strong links between the main teacher, the student and parents.
At KS4 we operate a behaviour management system where if students are disruptive or passive learners, they will be removed from the classroom to work with professionals on improving their behaviour for learning and attitude towards school.
Finally, the Trust runs Safeguarding services, not just for the schools within the Trust but also support to schools across the Authority.
The implementation of Literacy for Life has changed the ability of our students to cope with the requirements of Key Stage 4 and particularly with the ever-changing nature of our public examinations. The problem solving and outcome orientated delivery of Literacy for Life is the a precursor for a Design Process based GCSE at Key Stage 4 and students see the relationship very easily. They take the competencies that they have honed in Years 7 and 8 and apply them to the Design Process with exceptionally high levels of success. In addition the Trust believes that gaining these skills will give students an advantage in a world of rapidly changing technology.