This section of our website explains the principles that inform our curriculum.
Links to related information can be accessed below:
Our aim is to provide an excellent education for all our students; an education which brings out the best in all of them and prepares them for success in life. Our curriculum is designed to provide children with the core knowledge they need for success in education and later life, to maximise their cognitive development, to develop the whole person and the talents of the individual and to allow all children to become active and economically self-sufficient citizens. By drawing on the best that’s been thought, said and done in each subject, we hope that our curriculum enables children to appreciate and participate in the full richness of the human experience.
Hundreds of United Learning teachers and leaders have been involved in developing the United Learning Curriculum as a core academic curriculum, founded on these key principles:
- Entitlement – We believe that all children have right to learn what is in the United Learning Curriculum; schools have a duty to ensure that all children are taught the whole of it.
- Mastery – 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 this is achieved.
- Stability – We won’t constantly amend the Curriculum: while we should make occasional adjustments in the light of feedback and experience, we will aim for stability over many years, so that teachers can develop expertise, and we constantly build assessments and teaching materials to support the Curriculum.
- Concepts not context – The Curriculum is intended as a concise specification of knowledge and content to be taught and learned; it is for schools and teachers to decide how to teach and bring it to life.
Subject specialism is at the heart of our curriculum and you will see differences in the way that the curriculum is constructed and assessed in different subjects. Standardised written assessments, for example, play less of a role in performance subjects such as music, drama and physical education. The stability of our curriculum allows subject expertise to develop over time, and we are careful to provide sufficient time for teachers within the same subject to meet together. Further subject specialism is provided by United Learning’s subject advisors.
As a mastery curriculum our pupils study fewer topics in greater depth, with the expectation that we don’t move on to the next topic until all pupils have a secure understanding of the current topic. A 3-year Key Stage 3 provides pupils with the time and space to gain this secure understanding. In our lessons you will typically see all pupils grappling with the same challenging content, with teachers providing additional support for pupils who need it. Rather than moving on to new content, our higher attainers are expected to produce work of greater depth and flair.
In addition to the mainstream curriculum outlined above, we also offer a number of more bespoke curriculum provisions:
Foundation Curriculum – Our aim is to provide an excellent education for all our students; an education which brings out the best in all of them and prepares them for success in life. Our curriculum is designed to provide children with the core knowledge they need for success in education and later life, to maximise their cognitive development, to develop the whole person and the talents of the individual and to allow all children to become active and economically self-sufficient citizens. By drawing on the best that’s been thought, said and done in each subject, we hope that our curriculum enables children to appreciate and participate in the full richness of the human experience.
Within Years 7 – 9, this curriculum sits within the mainstream timetable for those students who are, or have been, eligible for the Governments additional Catch-Up Funding in Year 7, together with other students who have either missed large chunks of education or who find learning more challenging. The lessons replace MFL lessons in the first instance and provide a KS2 type literacy and numeracy provision for the students so that they can become able to access more of the mainstream core lessons in English, Maths and Science. As the lessons are staffed by experienced MFL staff and SLT, we have the ability to be flexible with the curriculum and include elements of FCSE French or Spanish when we believe the students are at a level to be able access all subjects confidently. The curriculum consists of the following topics in the main, but is reactive to students’ needs and QLA from KS2 SATs and internal assessments.
QLA of KS2 SATs has established the gaps in Numeracy and Literacy that are evident in the students. We have 53 students eligible for Literacy Catch up and 27 students eligible for Numeracy Catch up.
To bridge gaps in Literacy students are accessing Lexia 3x30 minute sessions per week. The Power up Literacy program is designed to help students become proficient readers, confident learners and GCSE-ready. Power up primarily targets Key Stage 3 pupils who lack the basic reading, academic vocabulary and the comprehension skills necessary to fully access and engage in the secondary curriculum.
To bridge gaps in Numeracy students are following a program of numeracy intervention designed to fill gaps in students’ basic mental calculation strategies and also to empower them with the numeracy skills and fluency required to fully access GCSE Maths concepts when they move to Key Stage 4 study. This is working alongside tuition on Friday afternoons for the weakest of students with a SS in Maths of 94 or below.
QLA of internal assessment data alongside NGRT data has established the gaps in Literacy with 39 students requiring intensive intervention. To bridge gaps in Literacy students are accessing Lexia 3x30 minute sessions per week. The Power up Literacy program is designed to help students become proficient readers, confident learners and GCSE-ready.
Some of the students will also access EAL provision as they are new to English, this is in addition to their Foundation Curriculum lessons. Specialised lessons to support students new to English are delivered by EAL specialists.
To bridge gaps in Numeracy, students will follow exercises from CGP Catch up Maths to support their number fluency, and to help to build up their long-term memory. Topics are interleaved and students will practise several topics instead of practising the same thing. Students will access the following topics Number Bonds, Place Value, Addition/Subtraction, Multiplication/Division, Rounding and FDP, alongside areas requiring development that are established through fluency testing.
QLA of internal assessment data alongside NGRT data has established the gaps in Literacy with 60 students requiring intensive intervention to reach their chronological reading age. To bridge gaps in Literacy students are accessing Lexia 3x30 minute sessions per week. The Power up Literacy program is designed to help students become proficient readers, confident learners and GCSE-ready.
To bridge gaps in Numeracy, students will follow exercises from Catch up Maths to support their number fluency, and to help to build up their long-term memory. Topics are interleaved and students will practise several topics instead of practising the same thing. Students will access the following topics Number Bonds, Place Value, Addition/Subtraction, Multiplication/Division, Rounding and FDP.
Students within the Year 9 Foundation Curriculum will also have lessons that will support their transition to GCSE subjects at the end of the academic year. The lessons will support in filling gaps in Humanities and Language provision where appropriate.
Reading Curriculum - The ability to read, and read well, is absolutely key to student development. It is intention for all students, regardless of their starting point, to be able to read in line with age-related expectations so that they can access learning and interpret GCSE examinations by the beginning of Year 10. This will be addressed, initially through Accelerated Reader and Lexia for those who require it. While instilling a love of reading, encouraging all students to reading for pleasure, is a culture change that will underpin our Reading Programme. The choice of texts our students can access has increased, with the library being re-stocked, in September 2019, with nearly 200 new books to support students with a higher reading age, but also to give offer a broader range of texts that will support students in achieving the higher AR levels and becoming a free reader.
All students are tested at the start of the academic year through GL NGRT to establish a baseline reading age, independent to the reading management and monitoring programme. We use Accelerated Reader (AR), a web-based intervention, produced by the Renaissance Learning Company, which allows us to monitor and direct pupils’ reading practices and encourages them to be ambitious when independently reading. This data is used to shape a student’s reading journey.
Intervention Curriculum – these small group lessons are run separately in both KS3 and KS4 for students who find accessing large group mainstream lessons challenging. A full curriculum is taught to these groups (see detail below) with KS3 lessons delivered with support from Cornerstone staff in that provision, and KS4 lessons delivered by experienced staff dedicated to ensuring that all students accessing this course achieve the maximum outcomes possible. Each student has an agreed bespoke timetable which best fits their needs and allows them to achieve fully. Options are supplemented with BTEC Business or Sport and Childcare to allow all students to achieve a broad range of subjects in addition to the core subjects of English, Maths and Science.
Key Stage 3
English – key skills in English including vocabulary, phonics, the mechanics of writing and selection/retrieval leading to basic comprehension are being taught to a small group of our lowest ability students with the aim to allow them to access increased content in lessons.
Maths – basic numeracy assessments have occurred which have revealed gaps in knowledge in topics such as; Negative number manipulation, Multiplying decimals, Basic algebraic substitution, Manipulating data (averages), Converting between FDP, HCF/LCM. Extension to GCSE questions have challenged the group within these topics.
Science – core Science skills investigating skills, planning practicals and problem solving are being taught within the UL SoW, with current emphasis on 8PL (Light and Space). Students will be assessed through the usual KPIP assessments.
MFL – Spanish language teaching with significant amounts of cultural content to enhance competencies with languages. Students will present on their work prior to Christmas and also participate in the MFL Christmas Market.
Creative Arts – a practical, hands-on approach to learning combining the Year 8 and 9 SoW with current focus on the work of Antoni Gaudi; stained glass and mosaics and assessment of skills within this context. In addition, Graphics skills are being taught to ensure that students are experiencing different forms of Creative Arts to be able to make informed decisions for their KS4 options.
Geography – the current focus is “development” which figures in all the KS3 SoW in Geography in a variety of forms. An independent workbook approach is being trialled which has allowed a significant amount of positive interaction being students of differing abilities. Throughout the course, generic Geography skills such as map skills and source-based task skills will be covered to ensure assessment is accurate.
History – students will study specific aspects of the KS3 curriculum starting with Anglo-Saxon Britain, but will also incorporate generic skills within the History course such as interpreting information from sources and “change” dynamics within History.
Performing Arts – the first term focus has been the development of instrumental skills with the students being assessed on their ability to describe music, and play in an ensemble with an extension to develop composition skills later on in the year. Students will be encouraged to participate in peripatetic lessons to develop individual skills further.
PE – two practical sessions a week revolving round the sports taught within the KS3 PE Curriculum, but with a focus on encouraging teamwork and self-confidence within the group. Individual and team-based sports will be planned throughout the year, but will respond to numbers within the group on a half-termly basis.
Key Stage 4
Students accessing this provision study a mix of subjects within this provision and mainstream lessons to ensure that they leave with appropriate qualifications and are ready for Post-16 education, training or apprenticeships. Each student’s timetable is bespoke to their individual needs.
English – specific focus on English Literature as this is the element where most students have gaps in their knowledge. Literature content will be delivered I line with the GCSE SoW, with specific writing skills incorporated as part of the formative assessments.
Maths – number skills such as converting between Fractions, Decimals and Percentages, plus higher order skills like manipulating indices, moving onto Standard Index Form will form the basis of the first term’s content. Regular exposure to GCSE exam questions will be key to improve the confidence of the students and to ensure exam technique is more effective for their Rehearsal Exams.
Science – students are following a Combined GCSE curriculum in all three sciences with teaching from specialist staff in Biology, Chemistry and Physics. A specific focus on Required Practicals has been incorporated to ensure that students understand this integral element of the science curriculum.
BTEC Sport – a full curriculum incorporating both practical and theoretical elements will be taught to ensure that students are up-to-date with coursework and fully prepared for the external exam unit.
Construction – a small group of students with specific career aspirations in this field work on-site with specialist staff to achieve the WJEC Level 1/2 Construction course.
Hair & Beauty – a small group of students with specific career aspirations in this field work off-site with a specialist provider to achieve the VRQ Level 1 Certificate in Hair & Beauty skills.
Intervention – students will work independently to ensure that their work in optional subjects is up-to-date, and that additional work on interactive media such as Hegarty and Tassomei will improve a base knowledge for their core subjects.
EAL Intervention - a daily curriculum that supports those students who are new to English which is delivered by trained ESOL teachers and varies between one-to-one support in lessons, Life in Britain lessons and English Language Intervention. The aim of this provision is to allow all students to access mainstream education and achieve outcomes in KS4 in line with their academic abilities.
Additional Needs Provision - The ANC manage and support all SEN students on a daily basis ensuring all need is identified, and reasonable adjustments are made in a timely and robust manner. There is an SEN registration group, which provides a safe and welcoming start to the school day and also a series of specialist interventions such as Speech and Language and Social, Emotional and Mental Health for students with an EHCP. The provision also arranges KS3 supported lessons (shared with the Cornerstone Provision) for those students requiring smaller group work and extra one-to-one support to help them progress.