Our school is a diverse and wonderful community and our curriculum provides equality of opportunity for all. It helps our pupils to understand what it means to ‘Be One of Ours’. It is designed to develop literate, numerate, confident speakers; pupils who are solvers of problems by negotiation; true to their faith; caring of others and for their environment; pupils who are creative and appreciative of the arts; ambitious pupils who are motivated and believe in their abilities; who understand the impact of previous generations both locally and on our world and can use their skills, knowledge and values to create a better world for all.
Our curriculum develops our pupils in ways that go far beyond the academic. It is enriched by numerous opportunities for, spiritual growth, personal and moral development, living safely, cultural awareness and personal challenge. Our pupils are educated in the Our Lady’s virtues, ensuring they are continually challenged, enabling them to develop and mature as people whilst at our school.
Our pupils’ knowledge must be secure and provide a strong foundation for their future learning and progression, supported by individualised and meaningful careers provision throughout their time at our school. Academic, vocational and technical ambition are offered and celebrated with equal distinction and EBacc subjects will be studied by all our pupils through the 3 years of KS3 and be made available to all our pupils at KS4, through an open option process.
We do not prescribe any particular teaching style or pedagogical approach at our school. Rather each teacher must develop a broad set of pedagogical skills from which they will select examples for use in particular situations. Hence, our teachers must actively read the different situations presented by each of their classes and adapt and respond to them. Our teachers regularly share their pedagogical skills with each other and draw on both recent and longstanding research in teaching and learning to support each other as they strive to offer the best to our pupils.
Pupils with SEND will experience occasions where teaching is adapted and enriched with the aim of helping them recover key concepts that may have previously limited their learning and progress. For all KS3 pupils, where fundamental gaps in learning are diagnosed for numeracy or literacy, we select from a range of our specific recovery programmes. These can include our Thinking Reading strategy which targets pupils with poor reading skills to six lessons of intensive, targeted, specialist teaching, fully assessed and tracked followed with checks on retention and progress made after the programme completes.
We invest in the professional development of our staff so that they may develop such skill sets and know when to use each of them. We do this by providing 2 hours every week for staff development and training. This compliments our coaching and mentoring programme for new and existing teachers. All teachers have appraisal objectives for researching and developing their Teaching and Learning skills. Teacher representatives from curriculum areas sit on our Curriculum and Assessment Working Group.
These pedagogical skills, combined with excellent relationships and high levels of expectation, are put into practice to help pupils remember more, connect more and therefore build knowledge and skills. This is supported by consistently high expectations for literacy development and an acceptance by our teachers that we are all responsible for improving literacy and vocabulary. This is true for teachers as well as pupils. All pupils engage with Accelerated Reader to develop their reading ability and therefore their ability to access knowledge at an increasingly higher level.
For our curriculum to have impact, our teachers and curriculum leaders must continually ask the following three questions:
- How has this lesson or work been made possible by what pupils have learned previously? This question ensures that we are always aware of the disciplinary and substantive knowledge that is required from previous teaching to enable success in the current teaching
- What is the key substantive and disciplinary knowledge needed for success in this series of lessons, and when is it studied in the curriculum? This question ensures that our teachers know where they are taking the pupils over time and are therefore able to select appropriate pedagogical approaches to enhance learning
- How well are the pupils learning the curriculum (the current section) and how do I improve their understanding and progress? This question ensures that our teachers use and act upon the outcomes of valid and reliable assessment
At our school:
‘Progress’ means knowing more, remembering more and being able to do more. All pupils must make progress.
‘Substantive knowledge’ is the individual ‘bits’ of knowledge necessary for more complex performance.
‘Disciplinary knowledge’ – is the new skills that draw from or build on relevant substantive knowledge, thus increasing sophistication.
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” (TS Elliot)
By ‘Being One of Ours’, our pupils will leave our school having developed into literate, numerate, and confident speakers who will be solvers of problems by negotiation; be true to their faith; be caring of others and for their environment; be creative and appreciative of the arts; be ambitious, motivated and believe in their abilities; be people who are mindful and respectful of the nine protected characteristics; be people who understand the impact of previous generations both locally and on our world and can use their skills, knowledge and values to create a better world for all by positively contributing to society.
They will have achieved their God-given potential in external examinations, having made strong, personal progress. ‘Being One of Ours’ guides our pupils into further education, employment and training, following a path best suited to their ambition.