In its simplest terms our curriculum statement sets out what we are going to teach and explains why we are teaching it and why we are choosing to teach it in that order. We want it to be delivered by a great teacher in every classroom.
Our curriculum is an 8-year model. It builds on the learning in Year 6 and develops through to Year 13. Each subject area has a clearly defined curriculum that builds on the knowledge and skills consolidated in KS2. It focuses on delivering the curriculum in a way that teaches students new knowledge and skills, whilst constantly interleaving prior learning, across the eight years.
Beyond this, each curriculum area implements a carefully planned and scheduled programme of activities that brings learning to life and provides students with the opportunity to explore their own areas of interest, developing their cultural capital, and preparing them for post-16 education, training and employment.
Our revised curriculum for September 2020 is an imaginative and thoughtful model aimed both at broadening the curriculum and developing our existing two-year KS3. Our model manages to retain the best features of the three-year KS4 while ensuring that there is appropriate breadth. We feel that due to this our curriculum is not narrow in scope or provision and more importantly know that our model is best for our students.
The model retains the three-year KS4 structure for 2020/2021 but enhances it by the additional provision of three significant subjects: Critical contextual studies, Conversational language and Creative/Digital Media. This ensures that students who choose not to study GCSE history, geography or a language at the end of Y8, still experience these subjects in Y9 and we continue to build on their cultural capital. Additionally, they will continue to study Visual Arts and Technology through the scheme focussing on software such as Adobe Photoshop, Vlogging/Blogging and Graphic Design.
Our extensive extra-curricular programme also ensures comprehensive access for all to the full breadth of the curriculum, providing opportunities within the school setting and as part of learning beyond the classroom.
Detailed bespoke provision is in place to secure engagement, challenge and progress for our High prior attainments and our learners with additional needs.
We will review this curriculum, with the option of moving to a 2-year KS4 in 2021/2022 still available to us, should this be deemed appropriate.
We aim to provide an excellent education for all and ensure that there is an excellent teacher in every classroom. The Lipson curriculum is designed to provide all students with the core knowledge in every subject that is the foundation for success.
At the heart of the curriculum lies deep respect and passion for the subjects we teach and for the insight that each provides into the wider world. We teach students how to think, how to criticise and how to be active rather than passive recipients of information. We aim for every child to be stretched but for no child to be left behind. We enable students, from no matter what starting point or background, to feel secure in their learning. Our curriculum has been designed to meet the needs of our learners and is built on these five principles:
- Learners are at the centre: We must meet the needs of all to ensure progress is secured.
- Independent and inter-dependent study habits: We ensure our students are equipped to become life-long learners.
- Mastery of subject knowledge and skills: we want all students to achieve a full understanding of the knowledge specified in the curriculum for each year, and teaching should not move on until it is achieved. Skilful formative and summative assessments enable this and ensure that the teacher and the student know exactly where they are.
- Progress through stability: We do not constantly change the curriculum, but we often tweak it in light of feedback and experience. The Lipson Knowledge Organisers- researched in 2018 and new in 2019 for all years are one example of high-quality resources used to support learning.
- Positive and enjoyable learning experience: We want classrooms that bring knowledge to life, provide context, humour and episodic, memorable moments. We want children to have fun too. The simplicity of our reformed behaviour for learning system, ‘Be Positive, Be Engaged, Be Respectful, Be Kind’ ensures that we are striving for a positive learning experience for all.
The curriculum for each year group (7-13) can be accessed here. The curriculum for each subject outlines the knowledge and skills for each term highlighted in the subject road maps for each year group. Formal written assessments are also known as end-point plans and are undertaken every half term. Parents currently receive one written report for each subject each year. Written formal assessments play less-of-a role in subjects such as KS 3 PE, Drama and music. We have a two-year Key Stage 3 and a three-year Key Stage 4. We believe that this gives our students the best chance of success without narrowing the curriculum too much.
A typical Lipson lesson will see all students grappling with the same challenging content, with teachers providing additional support for students who need it. Rather than moving on to new content, higher attainers are expected to produce work of greater depth and flair that secure them the highest outcomes. Teaching & learning supports the curriculum by ensuring lessons build on prior learning and provide the opportunity for guided, then independent practice. Impactful ‘starters’ are embedded and the introduction of low-stakes-no-threat testing ensure the building of individual and collective confidence to retain information and knowledge. We have introduced a Teaching & Learning Research Group which is driven by staff and ensures that our teaching is evidence based and underpinned by the sharing of good practice. Our basic lesson structure is consistent whilst allowing variation across the differing context of subjects.
We are particularly conscious of the role that literacy and expanding vocabulary plays in unlocking the whole curriculum. Whilst our teachers teach the meaning of subject-specific language and plan for challenging reading and writing, we also have a fully implemented guided reading tutorial programme Year 7-13. Curriculum plans provide students and parents with key information and vocabulary for each subject. We are evolving an ‘engaged reading culture'. Personal development and enrichment are also highly valued as part of the wider curriculum. The enrichment and personal development opportunities for each year group, and the whole school, can be accessed here.
Lipson has developed a bank of high-quality summative assessments which exemplify how our learners are rapidly developing their understanding of their subject areas. These assessments are taken 5/6 times a year and allow subject teachers to focus on formative assessment from lesson to lesson. The positive impact of ongoing and effective formative assessment evidences that the students are growing in confidence and high engagement levels exist across all subject areas. Students are developing a passion and fluency for each subject area. This means that in lessons students are quizzed on prior knowledge to embed this knowledge into their long-term memory, freeing up the working memory to focus on current learning and make the links required to prior learning. As a result, whole school results are improving rapidly 7-11 and in most areas of KS 5.
Every child has the right to a challenging and engaging curriculum and to be taught be a great teacher. By teaching this curriculum well, and developing effective learning in all students, we ensure a positive education for all.
We define curriculum as ‘all student experiences that occur in the educational process’. Student experiences should reinforce and increase understanding and knowledge of what is taught formally within the timetabled lessons. Our curriculum, is broader than the timetable, encompassing co-curricular clubs, the outdoor education programme (including D of E, 10 Tors, CCF, Sport) and trips and visits programme.
It is through this wider curriculum that we deliver the broad, balanced, rigorous experiences required to develop the knowledge, skills, deep learning, attitudes and ambition needed to develop our students’ positive attitude to learning and life. We support students’ physical development and in every aspect of learning we provide wider opportunities for personal and social development, designed to improve student confidence, resilience and teamwork, as well as to enthuse and inspire our students.
Significant examples of our wider curriculum offer are:
Student Leadership Opportunities
The Duke of Edinburgh
Royal Navy Cadets – CCF Unit
Year 7 residential trip
Book & Film Clubs
Co-operative Big Band
Performing Arts Academy
Theatre visits and workshops
Sports teams and development opportunities
Musical tuition, clubs and workshops
These opportunities, coupled with an inspirational and relevant curriculum, build the skills and attributes necessary to become resilient, successful learners and highly effective citizens. All of our students study Religious Education and PSHE/Citizenship as well as studying enhanced topical themes through our tutorial and assembly programmes.
Teachers set high expectations for all students. They use appropriate assessment to set ambitious targets and plan challenging work for all groups, including:
- More able students
- Students with low prior attainment, including those who are not ‘secondary ready’
- Students from disadvantaged backgrounds
- Students with SEND
- Students with English as an additional language (EAL)
Our school may have at any time, talented or gifted students, some of whom may be exceptionally able and this may be in one or more areas of learning. We believe that we can make a difference in enabling these students to achieve the greatest possible progress, recognising the value and importance of identifying and celebrating their achievements and successes. Research has shown that by making provision for More Able students the standards of achievement are raised for all students.
Our definition of ability recognises academic and practical performance as well as those who show outstanding artistic, musical and creative talent, physical skills, leadership qualities and the ability to process ideas and information. It also recognises that a child may possess this potential although performance may not currently reflect this.
Challenge is the driving force of teaching the most able. Only by giving our students work that makes them struggle, and having the highest expectations of them, will we be able to move them beyond what they know and can do now. Our curriculum implementation and T&L pedagogy are designed to facilitate challenge for our more able students. NACE (National Association for Able Children in Education) encourages schools to develop their own practice based on the following strategies, which form part of our approach:
- Rich questioning
- Higher order and abstract thinking (e.g. handling ambiguity and paradox)
- Problem solving and enquiry
- Development of advanced language skills, to include accuracy, precision and fluency
- Independent work and self-study
- Development of metacognition
- Transfer of knowledge across disciplines
- Provision of leadership opportunities
- Curriculum enrichment
Our curriculum pathways enable more able students to access an E-Bacc route, with access to Triple Science, more than one language and Humanities, alongside the core subjects of Maths and English. Students are given specific information and support that directs them towards this pathway and fully prepares them for accessing A-Levels as part of our post-16 provision. Beyond this, students are provided with access to HE and preparation for Russell Group university application.
At KS3 our HPA students will also follow a bespoke pathway that enables them to follow additional courses. They will study two MfL (both French and Spanish) and also study based on the EPQ qualification at Level 1 or 2 or preparation for EPQ at Level 3 type study in Year 9. Additionally, these students will be engaged in an extended reading course where they access more challenging texts, both fiction and non-fiction. Students from within this micro-cohort will also work as part of the Brilliant Club.
Teachers will plan lessons so that students with SEN and/or disabilities can access the curriculum and, wherever possible, ensure that there are no barriers to every student achieving.
Teachers will also take account of the needs of students whose first language is not English.
Lessons will be planned so that teaching opportunities help students to develop their English, and to support students to take part in all subjects.
Further information can be found in our statement of equality information and objectives, and in our SEND policy and information report.
We proactively plan for how our curriculum will flex for our disadvantaged students so that their current needs are met, without compromising their future success and social mobility.
Lipson uses the Gatsby Benchmarks as a guide to plan our CEIAG programme. As part of our commitment to informing our students of the full range of employment, learning and training pathways on offer to them we actively encourage visitors from training, apprenticeship and vocational education providers to speak to students. This complies with the Academy’s legal obligations under Section 42B of the Education Act 1997.
- Students in years 10-13 are entitled to find out about apprenticeship, employment and alternative technical training opportunities as part of a careers programme, which provides information on the full range of education and training options available at each transition point.
- To hear from a range of local and national providers about the opportunities they offer, including technical education and apprenticeships – through options evenings, assemblies and group discussions and taster events.
- To understand how to make applications for the full range of academic and technical courses.