The Oulder Hill curriculum is broadly based on the national curriculum, with subject areas taking the following sources into consideration when constructing their Key Stage 3 long and medium-term plans:
- For core teachers, the English and Mathematics primary curriculum and transition data
- The programmes of study from the DfE
- Skills, content and assessment styles included in the new GCSE specifications
- The backgrounds and demographics of our school community
By adopting this approach, the Key Stage will not exist in isolation, but instead, a continuum of learning will be created from Key Stage 2 through to the end of Key Stage 4. Raising aspirations to acquire knowledge that they may not have access to at home, among their friends or in the communities in which they live.
At Oulder Hill we have always recognised the contribution that CEIAG has in raising achievement and inspiring students from all backgrounds towards opportunities beyond school, this is exemplified by achieving Quality Careers Standard (previously Inspiring IAG Gold Award) since 2010.
It is essential to capitalise and build on the progress made at KS2. The skills and knowledge required for KS3 are delivered as traditionally discrete subjects. The integrity of teaching at KS3 is maintained with subject specialists throughout the EBACC subjects of Science, Languages, History and Geography; the only exception being Computer Science where regular in-house extensive training has taken place. The KS3 curriculum remains broad and balanced with the majority of students studying two languages of their choice, the full range of expressive arts subjects and technology subjects. We believe this to be essential for students in terms of strengthening their cultural capital and experiences that develop life long transferable skills.
Within year 7 (and year 8 from September 2020) a weekly literacy lesson is taught with the intention to increase their understanding of tier 2 vocabulary. Within year 8 Careers advice and guidance is given to enable them to select their chosen options to commence a foundation year 9, for their opted subjects.
The reformed GCSEs (or equivalent) have presented a greater challenge to students. The greater content and challenge has been met by starting to develop the essential skills required for the KS4 courses across Y9. The introduction of this foundation year enables option subjects to be taught more interestingly and widely and not to an exam paper. Due to the breadth of the subjects taught in year 7 and 8 students benefit from focusing on these subjects at year 9. As a school we see the importance of students understanding their position in a global community so to support them we facilitate the vast majority of students completing a GCSE in one of four languages, Spanish, Italian, French and German. The ability to speak a language for the future employability of our students is a key consideration in this decision. However, for those where this is not an appropriate option the global context remains being promoted by the completion of a BTEC in travel and tourism, to continue to increase their cultural capital. Within year 9 students alongside computer science study iDEA(developing digital enterprise and employability skills) to help maximise life chances as digital technology is a growth industry in the Greater Manchester area.
PSCHE is delivered on a rolling programme across the years once a week. Immersion days also happen twice a year where aspects of this curriculum can be further investigated in depth. The programme spirals in nature with core themes taught in every year group and increasing in demand based on age appropriate topics. The topics have been chosen for the national and local context and includes areas which are relevant to Rochdale and building skills that will equip them for their future. At the heart of this is ensuring that our pupils are able to manage their own wellbeing and support others in theirs. As such, we include units on study skills and exam readiness to support our pupils. This is delivered by form tutors who also deliver a form time programme across the week including aspects of literacy, reading and oracy skills.
The new Year 7 have a Nurture class that have core lessons with one teacher (Primary trained) and join their year group for selected foundation subjects (Maths, English and Science) they are integrated, with support, to experience lessons with their peers. This has been extended to a Year 8 Nurture group that joins the rest of the year group for a few more lessons this year (e.g. Maths) and have different teachers for core subjects. At KS4 students who would struggle to access a main-stream curriculum have the opportunity to follow an alternative pathway to either gain ASDAN qualifications or Level 1 or 2 Horticulture.
We believe that our curriculum gives children real opportunities to develop key social skills, to understand the difference between right and wrong, to explore their own personality, show respect, celebrate difference and diversity and understand the values that underpin a democratic society.
Our curriculum design is broad and balanced and progressively builds on skills, knowledge and conceptual understanding year on year. Our Teaching and Learning Policy and Assessment, Marking and Feedback policy and RESPECT code illustrate how we develop learning and learners across the school. The school has clear assessment procedures for children in each subject area. In addition to this students target set in every subject and are encouraged to take responsibility to reflect on their attitude for learning. Students and staff are encouraged to demonstrate our RESPECT characteristics within lessons, around school and within the local community. We believe these characteristics and the development of these within students supports improved character and culture, leading to improved academic and social outcomes.
The content of each subjects’ curriculum has been reviewed by all faculty areas with a renewed focus on KS3. A major change has been planning backwards from GCSE requirements for the 1-9 grades (or equivalent) to establish where a student should be to achieve their flight path in each subject from Year 7. This ensures that pupils are prepared from the moment that they arrive at Oulder Hill in Year 7 for the more challenging studies at Key Stage 4. The curriculum was a key focus of the school in 2018-19 and continues to be this year to enable Middle Leaders to focus on the needs of learners within their faculty areas. There has been Middle leader training looking at individual subject curriculum intent, implementation and impact at both key stages. There is a focus on how subject curriculum is being implemented and what impact it is having on students’ knowledge and understanding, e.g. Maths Mastery curriculum that focuses on students thoroughly understanding concepts in a concrete way before moving to a pictorial and then abstract understanding has been extended to cover both Year 7 & 8 this year. Faculties are continuing to adapt their curriculum to address the new reformed Key Stage 4 qualifications as more information is available and many more subjects have experienced the new reformed examination this year. A further evaluation of current schemes of work is required as an on-going process to ensure that all students have the best possible start at Key Stage 3, optimising subject curriculum time to skill up and engage in learning for the future.