The aims of a programme of education including the knowledge and
understanding to be gained at each stage
Our curriculum's aim is to change lives through an outstanding educational experience. It takes its inspiration from, and is a response to, the needs of our community and the requirements of the National Curriculum. We have the highest possible expectations of our pupils and staff and aim to develop independence and enthusiasm to be successful citizens who make a positive contribution to society.
Learning has carefully sequenced coverage in all subjects via subject-specific threads which build on prior learning and facilitate the future acquisition of knowledge and skills. Equally, we ensure coherence through the whole curriculum through our seven common themes, which are implicit in all areas, these being:
We aim to:
- Provide a rich learning environment for all children to be able to innovate, flourish and excel.
- Teach learning behaviours that lead to positive attitudes to lifelong learning.
- Ensure that knowledge acquisition is enhanced through being effectively applied to real-life situations and problems.
- Develop transferable knowledge and skills that can be applied to current and future learning.
- Ensure depth of coverage and effective sequencing in order to build progression of essential Knowledge and skills between subject and year groups.
- Introduce pupils to inspiring and influential people and places, motivating them to search out further opportunities to open their minds to new ideas.
- Ensure high rates of progress for all pupils from whatever starting point.
Translating the intent/aims over time into a structure and narrative, within an institutional context
Experts in Music, Art, PE, Science and Computing are employed within our staffing team to ensure the highest possible standard of teaching throughout the curriculum.
Although work is differentiated appropriately, we operate a "High Expectations for All" approach. All classes are mixed ability and pupils are encouraged, and given the opportunity, to challenge themselves to try the work of whatever degree of difficulty. We want staff and pupils to reach beyond what they think they can achieve and aspire to greatness. We keep Michelangelo's quote below as our mantra when teaching this.
'The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark' - Michelangelo.
These words underpin learning and development and drive every member of our school community to achieve excellence and become the very best version of themselves they can be.
Independence is developed through a focus on the characteristics of a good learner and citizen which are reported on at the end of the year. Namely, pupils are expected to:
- Become lifelong learners who have a drive to know what, how and why, who are ambitious and who have the ambitions for themselves and each other;
- Develop the ability and determination to learn independently and above all be curious about the world around them, striving to achieve their full potential through a strong community who learn together; who are prepared to take managed risks, be reflective and learn from their own mistakes and those of others;
- Become good citizens who are respectful, kind, empathetic, appreciative of what they have, who value diversity, equality, and who celebrate their own successes and those of others, demonstrating integrity at all times.
- Have a Growth Mindset - don't give up even when it is difficult and believe that, with time and effort, you can get closer to achieving your goals. We normalise resilience through this approach in all aspects of school life and embody our Mindset motto "The Power of Yet". Pupils understand that the only way we fail is by not trying our best and giving up when things are difficult.
Oracy - Speaking and listening opportunities are threaded into lessons and pupils are expected to use Standard English at all times. This is sequenced and cohesive through our carefully planned progression of skills in each year group. This impacts writing standards as well as the pupils' confidence and ability to express and justify their opinions in a variety of contexts including dating and persuasive writing. Through this, pupils learn the devices and techniques to best present their point of view and contribute effectively to discussion and debate.
We keep George Orwell's quote below in our mind when teaching this.
"If people cannot write well they cannot think well. If they cannot think well, others will do the thinking for them."
Furthermore, vocabulary provides the tools to speak and write with greater clarity and precision. We know that in certain areas this is more limited than in others. Therefore, we actively seek opportunities to extend the range (number of words) and depth (synonyms and antonyms) of vocabulary of our pupils by the addressing of unfamiliar/challenging words in all lessons and informally whenever practicable.
To promote the spirit, moral, cultural, and mental development of pupils and prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life, we enrich our curriculum by building in a number of diverse opportunities for them to learn. To promote British Values throughout school, staff and pupils are asked to exhibit them in their lives and subject leaders identify opportunities in their subjects where these values can be demonstrated. Through a mapped out Education4life provision we seek to address many of the specific needs of our community and respond to national trends in order to best equip our pupils with the skills and knowledge to keep themselves educated, tolerant and safe now and in the future. Issues such as mental health, diet, road safety, online safety, gangs, sex and relationship education, LGBTQ+ issues and the dangers of drugs & alcohol are planned for in a variety of ways: being incorporated into appropriate areas of the curriculum; or in partnership with other agencies. This approach has enabled us to achieve the Stonewall School Champion Mark.
We believe that a healthy body is essential for a healthy mind and that this is especially relevant in an area where there is statistically poor health. Our commitment to this is evident in the provision of, on average, two hours Physical Education each week for all pupils. We take advantage of our specialist PE teachers and extensive sports facilities and a varied, carefully designed curriculum with the long-term benefits of regular exercise and a healthy diet are reinforced throughout. The long-term benefits of regular exercise are also repeated and consolidated in Education4Life and Science lessons.
Creativity is vitally important at Biggleswade Academy and our Creativity curriculum has been carefully sculpted to reflect this. All classes are taught by expert artists and musicians and additional music and choir sessions are available for all pupils free of charge. This forms the basis of our school orchestra and choir who take part in local and county performances to develop confidence and resilience. The choir is highly committed to performing publicly for the enjoyment of others, both within our local community and beyond. At the end of each term, the choir performs for the school and the community culminating in an end of year show at a professional theatre. This approach has enabled us to achieve the Music Mark Award.
We have a strong commitment to STEM and the real-life problem-solving opportunities the approach brings our pupils. Through specialist teachers and strong links between Maths, and Engineering/Technology subjects we also raise awareness of professional occupations linked to the subject, as well as enhancing key problem-solving and teamwork skills. Through our work in this area, we have achieved the SPACE Education Quality Mark.
In addition to all the exciting work done within the curriculum, we also encourage children to engage further with aspects of their choice. Throughout their time here at Biggleswade Academy, pupils have opportunities for enjoyment and the development of further skills within and beyond the school day through a diverse offering of lunchtime and after-school clubs. The clubs are free of charge and designed to foster, maintain and enhance pupils' enjoyment of a range of academic subjects, hobbies, life skills, sporting activities and games.
We also provide pupils with the chance to experience things they may not ordinarily have the opportunity to do. We achieve this through the implementation of our BA Adventures Club - 100 things to do before we leave Biggleswade Academy - which is completed as pupils move through the school and culminates in a celebration of their achievements at the end of their time with us.
Evaluating what Knowledge and understanding pupils have gained against expectations
"Feedback is the rocket file that propels the acquisition of knowledge and without it no amount of practice is going to get you there." Matthew said (Bounce - the myth of talent and the power of practice.)
Throughout, pupils are required to use their acquired knowledge and skills to demonstrate their understanding. This can be through direct questioning, demonstration, or in response to challenging questions which require pupils to justify their responses. This is assessed through both formative and summative assessments.
Formative assessment and Verbal Feedback:
This is the foundation of our assessment strategy and is the engine for driving learning forward. Ideally, formative assessment and verbal feedback on how to improve is given at the point of learning or as soon after as possible during the lesson. This can be to individuals, groups or the class as appropriate. All lessons are assessed afterwards through a review of the work done and any knowledge, concepts, skills or understanding that need to be readdressed, consolidated or developed are noted in teacher's Whole Class Feedback Sheets, personal assessment and planning adapted appropriately.
Feedback is given at the start of the lesson (Whole Class Feedback) and addresses important points that have been noted from the end of lesson review. The lesson may then develop and address these further depending on the teacher's informed judgement and may often be included within Retrieval Practice questions at the start of the lesson.
Pupils complete NFER standardised tests in reading and mathematics ad the end of each term. Writing is Teacher Assessed and moderated across the year group as well as by the Writing Leader and through the use of Comparative Judgement programme. Pupils are assessed as Below the Standard, Working Towards the Standard, At the Standard or at Greater Depth. Year 2 and Year 6 pupils also complete previous SAT papers prior to sitting the SATs tests in May/June.
This gives us clear, reliable data as to how effective teaching and learning has been and formative analysis of the tests enables us to identify anything that requires particular attention and respond by adapting planning for future learning.
We test the retention of knowledge at the end of each individual unit or collection of units of working each Foundation subject and use this alongside National Curriculum objectives to teacher assess children's attainment and progress. This is done in consultation with the experts employed to deliver those aspects of the curriculum and is moderated across the year group and Key Stage. Pupils are assessed as being Working Towards or AT the Standard, and those identified as being particularly talented can be assessed as Greater Depth, but this must be in agreement of the Curriculum Leader and via moderation against current and previous year exemplars.
Through our unrelenting drive to develop our pupils both academically and socially, we aim for the pupils at Biggleswade Academy to have:
- Developed their resilience, become reflective, independent learners and above all are curious about the world around them.
- Flourished, excelled and innovated.
- Acquired knowledge which they can apply to real-life situations.
- Experienced a wide range of opportunities which has inspired and motivated them to be ambitious about their futures.