Curriculum Rationale 2018-2019
The curriculum rationale at Park Lane Academy is focused upon improving the life chances of students, supporting effective transitions and creating opportunities in life for our students to lead diverse and successful lives. Our curriculum supports social mobility for our community, as our students are encouraged to follow an aspirational curriculum model which we review termly, to ensure that students are following the pathway which supports their future long term career goals and does not cap their potential. At the core of our curriculum are the qualifications our students require to flourish and progress to either an academic Key Stage 5 pathway or follow an alternate apprenticeship or technical pathway.
Our curriculum option choices reflect a labour market evaluation, completed annually, to ensure our offer meets the needs of our local employability market, addressing the growth industries. In January 2018, these included creative digital, hospitality and catering and health and social care employment. All of these employment areas have expected growth in the Calderdale area in the forthcoming years.
Underpinning our curriculum are key skills and attributes which have been identified in consultation with local employers, who have been key stakeholders in our consultation process. These key skills include resilience, problem solving, and the application of knowledge, the latter of which also addressed the new reformed qualifications, of which 85% of the examination papers reflect application questions to unfamiliar contexts.
All students access a curriculum which is broad, balanced and reflects character education, Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural learning opportunities as well as embedding British Values. Throughout our students’ educational journey there are many opportunities to demonstrate leadership skills, develop into responsible citizens, embrace charity work, exercise tolerance and utilise their democratic votes on whole school decisions. All these opportunities have been put in place in order that Park Lane students enjoy success in their chosen fields of employment and prosper in their personal lives in our society.
From September 2018, a new weekly activity programme will be available to all Park Lane students will to strengthen their skills and attributes in leadership, organisation, resilience, initiative and communication. Again, this reflects our commitment to the development of the whole child.
We follow a 2 year accelerated KS3 curriculum. This accelerated KS3 is focused upon building upon knowledge already gained at KS2, avoiding repetition, thus preventing disengagement and maintaining pace. Students move from developing new knowledge and skills to mastery level. This strategy has been employed to address the historic Y8 progress lag. This builds upon the findings of the DfE ‘Evaluation of the Two Year Key Stage 3 Project’. Early entry is promoted, where students’ progress demonstrates that they are capable of reaching or exceeding their target grades in the creative subjects.Our two year KS3 model also creates more opportunities for intervention in Y11 for the qualifications fundamental to successful progression, with the aim of reducing NEETs figures (Not in Education, Employment or Training).
Our curriculum model is ever evolving to address historic gaps in learning and ensure that Park Lane builds upon the strengths in both teaching and learning and where student outcomes demonstrate strong progress is being made. Where students have areas for development, such as low reading ages, our different curriculum pathways provide extra intervention opportunities for reading intervention and for bespoke phonics support. All students’ reading ages are tested systematically.
Our vision is to ensure that our curriculum enables all children to meet their full potential and join our employment community successfully and will ensure that our NEETs figures reflect increased success.
Park Lane’s curriculum supports our students to aspire to be the best in everything they do.
Assessment at Park Lane
At KS3, all students will be provided with 3 target grades based on information from their KS2 point scores. These targets will be for Maths, English and then one target for all other subjects. This information is kept in students’ exercise books which serves as a reminder to keep focused on the end goal.
There are three assessment cycles where departments assess at least one piece of work with reference to attainment levels which are recorded in exercise books, and provide formative feedback on other classroom work using ‘www – what went well’; ‘ebi – even better if’ and ‘L – literacy target’. Students are expected to reflect their feedback and improve their work using ‘mri – my response is’. Students are then given a period of time to fill any gaps the assessment has highlighted, through a period of 're-teach and extend' - students will then be retested.
KS3 Assessment Codes
Departmental assessments support and inform progress which is recorded in whole school data drops 4 times a year. Following three of the data drops, parents are informed about their child’s progress via a report detailing current attainment, effort level and whether students are on track to meet their target.
In the summer term, students will take examinations or assessments in a range of subjects which will not only assess progress but give students the opportunity to practise performing in a real examination setting.
In our three year KS4, all students will be provided with target grades in Maths, English and one target for all other subjects.
As in KS3, departments will assess at least one piece of work per half term with reference to exam specifications which are recorded in exercise books. Students are then given a period of time to fill any gaps the assessment has highlighted, through a period of 're-teach and extend' - students will then be retested. In addition, on-going monitoring will take the form of formative and summative assessment. These assessment grades are then used to inform 4 whole school drops followed by regular reporting to parents via a report detailing current attainment, effort level, predicted grade and target grade for each subject.
It is common practice for staff to refer to exemplar answers, examiner reports and exam mark schemes in their feedback.
In addition to the ongoing assessment outlined above KS4 students will sit formal mock/mid-year examinations where students are tested using examination materials from previous years. In Year 11 this will take place in January and give valuable feedback as to what grades students are on track to achieve in the summer exam season.
What is the English Baccalaureate (EBacc)?
English schools are required to deliver an English Baccalaureate (EBacc) curriculum to the majority of its students.
1. The Government believes that schools should offer students a broad range of academic subjects to age 16, and the English Baccalaureate promotes this aspiration.
2. The EBacc is not a qualification in itself. It will recognise students’ achievements across a core of selected academic subjects in getting good passes in rigorous GCSEs. The English Baccalaureate will cover achievement in English, Mathematics, Sciences, a Language and a Humanities subject. A student who achieves the English Baccalaureate will, therefore, gain GCSEs at grade 5 (which is the equivalent of the old grade C) and above at Park Lane Academy in:
- English Language and Literature (Double Award)
- Three Sciences
- A Humanities subject, (this must be either History or Geography)
- A Modern Foreign Language, in our Academy this will be French
3. The government’s policy is that a very high proportion of students should study the EBacc subjects (approximately 90%).
What Changes have been made to GCSEs?
Previously all students were measured on the number of GCSEs they achieved at A*-C, including English and Mathematics. From 2016 this has changed and students will be measured on how much progress they make from when they start in Year 7 to when they complete their examinations at the end of Year 11. This will be known as Progress 8.
Progress 8 will be used for all students. The aim of the Progress 8 measure is to encourage students to study a broad and balanced curriculum. This measure is based on the progress students make across a range of 8 subjects.
For students the point scores achieved at GCSE will be used to determine 2 measures:
1) Attainment 8 Score (A8)
- A8 is the total points of the best 8 subjects divided by 10 (as English and Mathematics points are doubled) to give an average.
2) Progress 8 Score (P8)
- The Progress 8 score is determined by taking the Attainment 8 Score (as calculated above) and deducting your Estimated Attainment 8 Score.
- Students should be aiming to achieve a positive (greater than 0) Progress 8 score as this means that they have made better progress than that of similar performing students on entry, nationally.
For further information about the new Progress 8 Measure please contact Ms Ahmed, Vice Principal.
The Diagram below illustrates how Progress 8 works.
What is the new GCSE grading structure?
The Department for Education has announced that the achievement of a Grade 5 on the new 9 to 1 grading scale at GCSE will be considered the new “good pass”. The new “good pass” is comparable to the very top end of a current C into a B under the current system and is designed to raise the bar for performance to a similar standard to that aimed for in top-performing countries. The Department of Education has released a new graphic to define the positioning of a “Good Pass” in relation to the old and new grading structure (see below).
Literacy Across the Curriculum
At Park Lane, we believe that good reading, writing and communication skills underpin academic success.
We have adopted a consistent approach to literacy through marking and assessment as well as ensuring that literacy skills are taught, revisited and revised by all teachers, in all subjects.
As well as having access to an exceptionally well resourced Library, all our students are exposed to a wide range of literature in their lessons. In registation, three days a week, the students will follow an 'Accelerated Reader' programme where levels of ability are clearly established and students are given a reading score which directs them to appropriate reading material. A test is given at the end of each book read to check comprehension and continues to monitor improvements made and areas for development. Data from reading tests will be ascertained three times a year and intervention will be actioned.
Finally, we love to celebrate our students’ successes in reading and writing and therefore promote a love of these core skills by running a variety of fun and challenging competitions that aim to seek out our future novelists, poets, journalists, teachers, TV presenters and potential Prime Ministers.
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