Curriculum Overview & Intent
At the heart of everything we do is our vision of Whickham School as “a school that ensures all pupils are the very best they can be.”
Our Curriculum is based around the following principles:
- A strong focus on the core basics; literacy and numeracy.
- A broad and balanced curriculum providing significant breadth in Years 7-9 and the academic underpinnings to allow a more personalised curriculum journey from Year 10 onwards.
- An academically ambitious curriculum founded on the EBACC suite of subjects.
- An ethos of high expectations, with the curriculum delivered in a way that allows all to progress.
- Through the prism of Olympic and Paralympic values, a strong focus on Personal, Social, Health, Relationships, Sex, Citizenship, Character, Careers, Cultural and Economic education (PSHE).
- A curriculum which provides a rich and diverse set of experiences both within the formal curriculum but also through extra-curricular experiences.
- At all times underpinned by mutual respect and restorative approaches.
By the time our pupils leave Whickham at the end of Year 11 or 13 they will be:
We achieve this through a focus on 4 key qualities:
- Aspiration: Whickham students set aspirational goals that are ambitious and without limits
- Respect: Without compromise, Whickham students demonstrate respect for themselves, others and their environment.
- Resilience: Whickham students persevere with challenges, especially when faced with setbacks.
- Empathy: Whickham students strive to be kind, caring and understanding of each other’s feelings and needs.
We believe in having:
A strong focus on the core basics; literacy and numeracy
It is vital that each pupil develops strong literacy and numeracy skills so that they can realise their academic potential. The skills and knowledge developed act as facilitators in many subjects and are fundamental to pupils making good progress in a range of subjects and achieving a suite of qualifications that allows them to access employment, further or higher education. Given that these skills form the core building blocks for progress in all areas of the curriculum they are prioritised for curriculum time.
Where pupils are identified as having low levels of literacy or numeracy, specific support is provided. A cross-curricular focus upon developing and embedding literacy and numeracy skills is in place and is supported through dedicated tutorial time.
A broad and balanced curriculum providing significant breadth in Years 7-9 leading to, in Years 10-11, a more personalised and flexible academically ambitious curriculum founded on the EBACC suite of subjects
During Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9), pupils follow a traditional academic and broad curriculum encompassing: English; mathematics; science; a modern foreign language; history; geography; technology; art; music; drama; IT; religious studies; PE and PSHE/Citizenship.
As pupils move into Key Stage 4 (Years 10-11), they continue to focus on a strong traditional academic core alongside flexible and personalised pathways. The full EBACC suite is offered to all pupils; a strong academic core opens pupils’ minds to the world and provides them with the skills, knowledge and understanding to pursue the widest possible range of careers. Pupils are also empowered, through a strong understanding of the wider world, to become well informed, global citizens.
Pupils are able to choose to study from all national curriculum entitlement areas: In addition to the EBACC we believe that a strong focus on creative subjects is also important. Other than some non-examined “core” courses (e.g. RE, PE), all courses lead to recognised rigorous and robust Level 1 or Level 2 qualifications such as GCSEs and BTEC Technical Awards.
An ethos of high expectations, with the curriculum delivered in a way that allows all to progress
At Whickham we believe that outstanding behaviour for learning and high quality teaching and learning are essential in order for pupils to make outstanding progress in their learning. Our pupils and staff have high expectations of themselves and others, showing a growth-mindset to try their very best at all times.
We believe that effective learning is underpinned by excellent teaching based around our Learning Model. Staff at Whickham School use the four stages of our Learning Model to plan and deliver lessons which ensure that at all times, teaching and learning promotes high standards, leading to excellent pupil progress. We ensure all barriers to learning are addressed so that pupils work effectively to achieve beyond expectations. Collaborative Planning across the school ensures a reduction in variability in the quality of pupil experience and secures a consistent approach in the delivery of materials by all members of a faculty teaching team.
A strong focus on Personal Development, through the prism of Olympic and Paralympic values
As a school, we believe strongly that pupils’ personal development and understanding of cultural capital will support and guide them to become fully rounded citizens. The school’s work in this area is as important as, and in fact underpins, academic success and from the moment they start school in Year 7, we encourage our pupils to be healthy, socially responsible and culturally aware. As they progress through the school, we also want to encourage them to have mature and responsible attitudes to sex and relationships and to have a good understanding of future career paths as well as economic literacy.
We also want our pupils to demonstrate the essential personal characteristics that will prepare them for adult life beyond school – to empathise and care for others, to work hard and never give up, to treat others with respect and equality, to demonstrate leadership skills through facing challenges and through inspiring others through continually striving for excellence. These values are enshrined in our Olympic and Paralympic values that we have assigned to each year group: Year 7 -Friendship; Year 8 – Determination; Year 9 – Equality; Year 10 – Respect; Year 11 – Courage; Year 12 – Inspiration and Year 13: Excellence.
We take our statutory obligations seriously and to achieve all this, pupils follow a rigorous and creative programme of Citizenship, PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) and RSE (Relationships and Sex Education) through a combination of tutorial time, drop down mornings and afternoons and the school’s assembly programme.
A curriculum which provides a rich and diverse set of experiences both within the formal curriculum but also through extra-curricular experiences
Our curriculum is designed to support learning in a wide range of contexts. We recognise the need to provide multiple viewpoints and experiences to support the academic and personal development of our pupils. We seek to draw on expertise from our local community, businesses and universities as well as subject specific field trips to deliver aspects of our curriculum and CEIAG wherever appropriate and possible.
We believe learning outside the classroom is as essential to pupils’ development as learning within the classroom. We want pupils to take part in a wide range of extra curricular activities, from sports clubs and the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme to film club and STEAM club. We provide a diverse range of extra curricular opportunities which all pupils are encouraged to take part in. Once per year, we aim for all pupils to take part in two days of rich experience where they are challenged by activities that broaden their life experience and cultural capital. We remove barriers to enrichment by offering bursaries to disadvantaged pupils.
A pupil-centred approach underpinned by mutual respect and restorative approaches
We believe that every pupil has the right to learn in a calm and safe environment that enables them to be themselves. Outstanding behaviour underpins effective learning and the development of strong relationships, use of restorative approaches and the fair and consistent application of the school behaviour policy are key to this.
We aim to work with parents and carers in ensuring each child develops the confidence and personal qualities that make them a good citizen and someone we are proud to know. Academic success is important but it is equally vital that each child develops the personal qualities that will enable them to make the most of their unique talents.
Delivering Our Curriculum
We operate on a curriculum model of 49 x 1 hour periods per fortnight. Pupils also spend 25 minutes each day with their tutor. For the majority of the time in Years 7, 8 and 9, pupils are taught in their tutor groups but are placed in sets for Maths, and from Year 9, English. Pupils are taught in smaller groups for Technology. PE is taught in different groups to allow additional flexibility.
Towards the end of Year 9 pupils choose a route for KS4 based on their individual strengths and preferences:
Pupils who choose to stay post-16 further specialise:
Citizenship/PSHE is taught twice weekly during tutor time and through a series of specialist part-day events.
In order to support student achievement following a period of school closure, for 20/21 and 21/22 only, the hours per fortnight will be increased in Years 12 + 13 by 1 (A-level subjects only) to provide additional face-to-face teaching time and pupil support.