18 Nov Head teacher’s Blog 18.11.18
On Monday November 26, our Year 10 students will begin a week of assessments in their GCSE subjects so that their teachers are able to be sure of progress made so far and identify any gaps in learning that need addressing ahead of 2020’s final exams. Over the course of the week, tests will be taken, in exam conditions in order to prepare our students for what will happen when they are in Year 11, in English, Maths, Science, MFL, History, Geography PE and Drama, with other subjects assessed either in other ways (DEC!, for example, is more of a continuous learning programme) or at a moment that is more appropriate to how the content has been covered so far. Academic achievement in final exams may be the end goal of our current education system and it is important that our Year 10 students get the best results that they can in 2020, but it isn’t the only factor that can open doors to the next stage of learning post-16 or which colleagues in colleges or workplaces look at when they are considering taking somebody on, which is why we have made such great strides in promoting effective character development in our students over the course of the past three years.
Our curriculum at Daubeney takes into account all aspects of what we offer our students and is built upon a number of pillars, such as our formal curriculum (the lessons that students have on their timetables), the enrichment opportunities that we offer (our Learning Outside The Classroom opportunities, the Mandarin lessons that we offer alongside our MFL lessons, the many lunchtime & after school clubs that take place, our Duke of Edinburgh award scheme and the Sports Leadership accreditation that we offer in Year 9), the interventions and student specific support that we offer, the literacy and numeracy activities that we build into the learning that takes place, our Careers provision, our many leadership and character development opportunities (Colours and councillor roles) and the PHSE/SMSC education that we provide. Every school’s curriculum must be efficient (how it runs), effective (it must do what it is supposed to do) and ethical (in that it gives the right courses for the right students). If necessary, school leaders can make innovative decisions to ensure that a curriculum matches a community’s needs, and this is why we have persisted with the implementation and delivery of DEC! and why Life Skills is such an important option for some of our students. There should also be cohesion between key stages and years, so that the progression from start to end is clear. Curriculum, you may (or may not) be aware, comes from the Latin term currere, which means to run or to proceed, and the word is synonymous with a sense of movement and underlines the importance of a journey over time. What a curriculum is not, to be clear, is a long list of subjects (the longer the list, for example, doesn’t necessarily mean that a school’s curriculum is more effective – it just means that it’s bigger!), a scheme of work or a set of lesson plans, instead it must be something that is designed with intent and purpose, offering breadth and balance to a community and impacting positively upon both students’ outcomes and their personal development, behaviour and welfare. Recently, Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools for England, has made clear that schools will need to focus less upon being exam factories and more upon implementing a curriculum that works for the context in which they operate. Indeed, she has even noted in a recent keynote address that “the curriculum is the yardstick for what school leaders want their pupils to know and to be able to do by the time they leave school… It includes how well the curriculum is implemented through well-taught appropriately sequenced content, thoughtfully designed assessment practice and consideration of an appropriate model of progression.” Three words that must come up a lot when leaders are planning a school’s curriculum are intent, implementation and impact; intent is what a curriculum is trying to achieve, implementation is how it is put into place and impact is how leaders ensure that it is making a positive difference to the students. At Daubeney, our subject leaders and senior leaders are currently working hard to ensure that what we offer in our curriculum meets the vision and aims of the whole school, which is to develop individuals that understand society, build a firm set of personal morals and engage in the community they live and understand its culture; develop the behaviours and habits that learners need to succeed such as concentration, perseverance, imagination, co-operation, enjoyment, self-improvement and curiosity; develop the appropriate subject specific knowledge, skills and understanding so that our students flourish, reach and exceed their potential academically, physically and creativity & develop future citizens who have a holistic set of skills and values that prepares them for life in a diverse, ever changing, modern world. How all the individual subjects and learning programmes come together to meet this vision is something that our leaders will be working on in order to make our curriculum even more effective that it already is. Our assessment week, then, plays an important part in our ability to track the impact of our curriculum, as assessment and curriculum must be inextricably linked in any school (assessment comes from the Latin term assidere, which means to sit alongside something – sorry about all the linguistic asides, but I’m an MFL teacher!) Exams are tough, but they’re vital for both teachers and students to be able to find out what they need to do in order to ensure excellent results at the end of Year 11, and I know that everyone who will be taking an assessment during our assessment week will do everything they can to make sure that they are fully prepared.