Understanding Whole-College Curriculum and Pedagogy
With our Catholic values at the heart of everything we do, we design and deliver our curriculum, knowing that our calling is to nurture compassionate, active and intentional young people who must be well prepared to go out into the world and fulfil God’s plan for them. We strive to offer the kind of curriculum that is varied and ambitious enough to help students be the best they can be, as community-minded citizens of modern Britain. Importantly, our students deserve knowledge and a love of learning that will remove barriers, create opportunities and pave the way for future success. Ultimately, our mission is to inspire hearts and minds with Christ at the centre of all we say and do.
So, how do we hope to achieve it?
We celebrate our position as a knowledge-engaged school: where the effective development of knowledge, skills and Gospel values are intertwined in our classrooms to enable students to benefit from the broad and balanced curriculum we work hard to offer – not least across a three-year KS3; where they keep their entitlement to a wider range of precious subjects for longer. Guided by learning theory, we place emphasis on the processes of memory, organisation and retrieval, and, the student-centred approach where learning is contextual to the individual, relies on language, and a collaborative relationship between student and teacher. We are proud when we say that, to us, relationships are everything.
When it comes to designing what will be taught, we believe that successful knowledge-gain should be cumulative and sequential. As a result, we operate a three-tiered approach of Long, Medium and Short-term Sequencing. Whether planning for the year, the topic, the week or the day, we rest our approach on the simplicity of two sets of questions: Where have students been? and Where do they need to get to? What do they need to know? and What must they remember to succeed? We don’t believe it is possible to assimilate new knowledge without having some structure developed from previous knowledge to build on, which is why (in support of the aforementioned sequencing) we ask for every lesson to be crafted upon: Today we need to KNOW and To succeed we must REMEMBER – empowering students to explore the links and connections between past, present and future learning. To support this expectation, all lessons begin with an act of Retrieval. We want our classrooms to be places of curiosity; where adults bring out in young people an excitement for learning and that hunger to know more and remember more.
Furthermore, knowing that access to (and application of) language is key, we also place considerable emphasis on the improvement and promotion of Reading across the curriculum: providing regular opportunities to explore text and subject-specific vocabulary. To improve confidence levels with challenging vocabulary students might need in all areas, we also teach ‘Language for Learning’ in Key Stage 3.
While staff in each separate subject area are passionate about helping students to create deep and long-lasting relationships with their academic discipline, we also understand the importance of working together across departments – finding ways to jointly celebrate common areas of knowledge, social and cultural themes and skills for later life. Furthermore, in active collaboration with our Primary and Secondary partners, our goal is to use knowledge of what students have studied at our feeder schools, and build upon those foundations in ways that seek to generate outstanding progress at secondary level and beyond. Working towards a 3-18 curriculum, is empowering us to understand the journey of education our students are on: motivating us to ask more targeted questions about how best to meet their academic, social, personal and spiritual needs.
While progress, outcomes and destinations for all students may signpost the impact of our curriculum, holistically, we look first and foremost to celebrate the happiness and successes (however small) of the whole child on their individual journey. For this reason, the Personal Development and Enrichment opportunities that support the Quality of Education we provide, are also incredibly important to us.
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13)