Lincoln Castle Academy Curriculum
CURRICULUM AIMS 2019-20
LCA Mission: “To inspire all individuals to thrive and achieve within an inclusive caring culture which maximises life choices and opportunity.”
CURRICULUM AIM 1: STUDENT-CENTRED
The LCA curriculum is continuously under review; leaders reflect on the suitability of provision and routinely modify the offer to maximise inclusivity and student achievement. The curriculum is recognised as the student’s entire school experience with the: (a) ‘core offer’ supplemented by (b) targeted ‘enhanced provision’ to meet individual needs and (c) ‘enrichment opportunities’ for all. Students benefit from high academic standards, receive a broad and balanced curriculum and are supported to develop and thrive as individuals. In recent years we have responded to national changes, modifying the curriculum accordingly but always prioritising our students’ needs, building on prior knowledge. Irrespective of trends or external measures of success, we seek to raise aspirations through a curriculum that is stimulating, challenging and relevant. For example: Option choices, PLP Curriculum, Foundation learners, blended pathways
CURRICULUM AIM 2: NO CHILD WILL BE LEFT BEHIND
The LCA core principles of ‘learn’, ‘care’, ‘achieve’ are at the heart of everything we do with high expectations underpinning our work. We aim to ensure that students excel across all aspects of academy life and that excellent progress can be made. We work to remove barriers to learning so students leave with knowledge and skills that will not only create excellent life opportunities but will also prepare them exceptionally well for life beyond the academy. Staff are deeply committed to raising aspirations & life chances. We believe all children have the right to a quality education and we champion every child. We know that success comes in many forms and that society is enriched when individual and varied talents are recognised, nurtured and developed. The culture of the academy is inclusive with students’ individual circumstances known and understood. For example: Nurture classes, PP Strategy & menu, SEND Strategy & menu, PP tutor interviews, student counselling, free breakfast for all, 40+ enrichment classes
CURRICULUM AIM 3: PROVIDE A RELIABLE, SAFE & SECURE ENVIRONMENT
Effective curriculum delivery is facilitated through an orderly respectful environment. Strong pastoral leadership means student behaviour is well managed through routines and high expectations. Staff model characteristics we hope to inspire in students, including: compassion, honesty, respect and an enthusiasm for learning. We forgive, we restore relationships and we move on positively. Students and staff are supported through academy systems, including the Code of Conduct, Restorative Sessions, On-Call Inclusion and PSP referrals. Vulnerable students and those requiring support are supported through our Welfare Team and the Newton Suite provides an essential base for students with additional needs. For example: Restorative Sessions, Inclusion, Readmission, mentorship
CURRICULUM AIM 4: BROADEN MINDS & MAXIMISE CULTURAL CAPITAL
The curriculum aims to broaden students’ experiences, introducing them to challenging, inspirational and fascinating new learning. Students experience a deep and knowledge rich curriculum underpinned with students ‘in role’ as designers/ artists/ writers/ scientists…. An extensive programme of enrichment, visits and external speakers provides opportunity to broaden students’ ambitions and expose them to the widest possible encounters. At Lincoln Castle Academy, we pride ourselves on delivering a curriculum which promotes the spiritual, moral, social, cultural, mental and physical development of all at the school and prepares our students for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. An extensive enrichment programme supports the development of pupils into well rounded citizens.
Our ASPIRE Curriculum is championed at the academy to ensure that they are fully prepared for life in modern Britain, students are able to understand that learning is linked to the real world and experiences. Students are encouraged to take part in a range of sporting, cultural, charitable and career-based activities. Links with local and national business and educational partners enrich the curriculum offer and help to contextualise learning.
CURRICULUM AIM 5: LITERATE & NUMERATE LEARNERS
The development of students’ language and oracy is at the forefront of our curriculum and the acceleration of basic skills. Communication skills help prepare students for working life and empower students to engage in the society as confident articulate communicators. We ensure pupils have opportunities in all subjects to discuss, challenge and build on other points of view and to develop their formality of language to ensure they can have the confidence to speak to different audiences. Tier 2 and 3 language is explicitly taught and captured in students’ glossaries and classroom displays promote our ambition to be a ‘language rich environment.’ Numeracy skills are embedded across the curriculum. Students who arrive with below expected literacy/maths skills receive expert teaching and incisive intervention. Tutor time is a vehicle for driving these priorities and reading for pleasure is promoted during this time. For example: Accelerated Reader, challenging texts within the English Curriculum, Knowledge Organisers include vocab.
CURRICULUM AIM 6: CREATE EXPERT LEARNERS
The Academy’s Teaching and Learning Policy drives the acquisition, memorisation and recall of knowledge. Teachers use techniques to ensure retention and the curriculum is underpinned by principles of spaced learning and the importance of increasing fluency. Students are explicitly taught to become ‘Expert Learners’ so they can remember the curriculum. Development of language and building knowledge are integral to curriculum planning. Curriculum Leaders, who are experts in their subjects, carefully construct and sequence a curriculum that promotes a deep understanding of a wide range of topics. Teachers plan learning that allows pupils to embed and recall knowledge through techniques such as interleaving of topics, spaced practice and retrieval. Our academy wide use of knowledge organisers and quiet starters supports these techniques to ensure impact. This builds firm foundations for progression to the next level and exam success. For example: Standardised lesson structure , Staff & student training, Use of the ‘Quiet Starter’, ‘Expert Learner’ strategy, Quizzing apps & tools, Student use of Study File, Knowledge Organisers in all subjects , PLCs and reflection tools in all subjects.
CURRICULUM AIM 7: AMBITIOUS ROUTES FOR PROGRESSION
It is our intention at the academy to ensure pupils have secure foundations for progression into our sixth form, further education and apprenticeships. From Year 7, pupils receive careers information with a clear focus on the Gatsby benchmarks and this is supported through our ASPIRE curriculum, drop-down days, the use of Unifrog and a focused careers week when we hold our hugely successful Careers Fair. Every student has the opportunity for guidance interviews with a qualified Careers Adviser. Every student has at least one such interview by the age of 16, and the opportunity for a further interview by the age of 18. We ensure they are available whenever significant study or career choices are being made. We have 6th form students who act as ‘Career Ambassadors’ to promote this aspect of our work.
The curriculum is delivered by staff that are:
- Specialist teachers of their subject
- Use school standardised systems to benefit learners
- Participate in robust QA of the curriculum
- Work with external partners to research, review and improve the curriculum
- Understand and work to address whole school and department curriculum priorities
- Promote reading, the Expert Learner strategy and language acquisition through the academy approach to lesson planning.
- Routinely reflect on the effectiveness of ‘implementation’ and modify teaching to meet need.
- Confident in their delivery, including when ‘out of subject’ owing to effective CPD
- Sequenced learning that builds on previous knowledge whilst supporting future progression;
- Qualifications that are of worth for employers and for entry to our sixth form, further and higher education;
- All pupils fulfilling their potential;
- Students of all abilities having their needs met;
- Students acquiring an appreciation and respect for their own and other cultures;
- Students being prepared to compete in the global economy;
- Students being prepared to make informed choices at the end of KS3, KS4 and beyond;
- Students developing lively, enquiring minds and the ability to question and argue rationally.
Academy leaders continually reflect on the curriculum that is studied and are currently reviewing the offer at Key Stage 3 to ensure the opportunity exists for all students to study a broad range of subjects, commensurate with the national curriculum, in Years 7 to 9.
Draft proposals for the 2020-2021 curriculum will take into account that many pupils have a clear idea of subjects they like the most and the least by the middle of Year 8 and offering some choice at this stage heading in to Year 9 will engage students as partners in their learning, leading to improved outcomes. We therefore ask students to spend more time on 3 chosen areas of interest in Year 9 whilst continuing to study core subjects and themed learning. These courses are not externally examined; they aim to develop a mastery of the skills required to complete a subject in Key Stage 4.
At KS4, the courses are carefully planned to ensure that content is thoroughly revisited and this undoubtedly prepares pupils for external examinations at the end of the course.
The 2020-2021 draft curriculum proposal places the strong academic core at heart of our effective key stage 4 curriculum. Lincoln Castle Academy recognises the government’s national ambition that 75% of Year 10 students should study EBacc GCSE courses nationally by 2022 (taking their examinations in 2024), and that this ambition rises to 90% by 2025 (taking their examinations in 2027). Lincoln Castle Academy also recognises this is not a target for any individual school. We are determined to ensure that a curriculum which places the success and progression of OUR learners is at the heart of any decisions made and is fitting for our local context and employment opportunities.
Lincoln Castle Academy’s level of ambition for its students is unquestionable and curriculum decisions will always be made to ensure the high level of ambition is upheld.
The academy believes that a carefully planned and structured curriculum is the foundation upon which excellent learning and development is built. The curriculum is designed and implemented in such a way that it builds on prior knowledge and prepares pupils for the next stage in their education. This is complimented by the academy's ‘expert learner’ strategy.
Development of language and building knowledge are integral to curriculum planning. Curriculum Leaders, who are experts in their subjects, carefully construct a curriculum that promotes a deep understanding of a wide range of topics. Teachers plan learning that allows pupils to embed and recall knowledge through techniques such as interleaving of topics, spaced practice and retrieval. Our academy wide use of knowledge organisers and quiet starters supports these techniques to ensure impact. This builds firm foundations for progression to the next level and exam success.
At KS3 the curriculum is designed around ‘learning journeys’. This encourages pupils to focus on deeper learning to ensure real understanding of key concepts. Each planned learning journey has clear statements setting out what pupils need to know, understand and do to make at least expected progress. These statements are shared with students and parents as part of the assessment process. The National curriculum content is carefully tracked to ensure that pupils have covered all areas of non-statutory KS4 subjects by the end of Year 8.
Year 9 (2019-2020)
In Year 8, pupils choose 3 subjects to study in depth in Year 9. This is a deliberate action to engage pupils and enable pupils to really enjoy their subject and learn the depth of their subject over a three year course. The curriculum model allows students to choose 3 subjects in addition to the core.
Year 9 (from 2020)
In Year 8, pupils will choose 3 subjects to study in depth in Year 9. This is a deliberate action to engage pupils and enable pupils to really enjoy their subject and learn the depth of their subject over a three year course. The curriculum model allows students to choose 3 subjects in addition to the core subjects and themed learning. These gateway courses are not externally examined but lay the foundations for KS4. Towards the end of year 9, pupils are able to move between subjects within option blocks thereby ensuring that they are satisfied with their final option choices before the start of KS4.
Options are structured in such a way to allow pupils a free choice. This ensures equity of delivery, with all pupils having equal access to subjects. The options are designed to stretch and challenge pupils and to meet the demands of the local labour market. Pupils are offered a mixture of practical and academic subjects from all areas of the curriculum. Within the option subjects, the academy offers a range of different accreditation routes including academic and vocational options. This gives every pupil a broad and balanced curriculum, but still offers a flexibility to maximise the outcomes achieved by each individual. This model also maintains the widest possible choice for progression routes Post 16 as every pupil will have a greater range of subjects on which to choose future opportunities for education and training.
At Lincoln Castle Academy, our curriculum will:
- ensure that the sequence of learning builds on previous knowledge whilst supporting future progression.
- lead to qualifications that are of worth for employers and for entry to our sixth form, further and higher education;
- enable all pupils to fulfil their potential;
- meet the needs of pupils of all abilities at the academy;
- allow pupils to acquire an appreciation and respect for their own and other cultures;
- prepare pupils to compete in the global economy;
- prepare pupils to make informed choices at the end of KS3, KS4 and beyond;
- help students develop lively, enquiring minds and the ability to question and argue rationally.
In the sixth form there are two pathways a pupil could follow: the Sixth Form Foundation Pathway or the Advanced Pathway. Pupils that achieve grades 5/6 or above in GCSEs and meet all the other entry criteria are guided onto the Advanced Pathway which contains traditional A-Level courses and BTEC Level 3 courses. Clear guidance is given on a one-to-one basis during and after GCSE results day to ensure that the subjects chosen and assessment methods employed within that course are appropriate for the student.
Pupils who do not achieve grade 4 or above in their GCSEs or Merits in their vocational qualifications are guided onto the Sixth Form Foundation Pathway where they can take a year to improve their competencies in analytical and evaluative skills, complete a curriculum designed to gain qualifications as well as inspire students and study level 2 English and mathematics if necessary. Successful completion of this year would enable these pupils to access the Level 3 courses in Year 13.
Assessment Recording and Reporting
Every subject ensures that regular assessments are set, and these are used to inform you about a student’s progress which is then recorded centrally on the School’s ‘Go for Schools’ system. The link to access the information is then sent to parents (up to three times per year) so that the progress of each student can be analysed, both academically and behaviourally.
Key Stage 3
At Key Stage 3 we have adjusted the system used to report progress regarding students across all their subjects.
Having used an assessment system in the past that assigned GCSE based grades to KS3 work, hindsight tells us that using levels or grades aren’t very accurate and that they potentially distract from learning and the feedback we actually want students to act on.
We can do a better job in assessing your child so that they learn more at KS3, so we have devised a model for 2019 to best suit LCA school students.
This applies to Year 7 and 8 and will be reported to parents three times a year via Go 4 Schools online reporting.
Our system of assessment focuses primarily on improving the learning of our students, and which builds on the following overarching principles:
- A move away from giving GCSE grades for KS3 work to focusing on just giving great feedback within our marking;
- A move towards charting progress relative to a student’s starting point and away from simply charting attainment e.g. Alex is exceeding where we expect him to be at this stage in year 8;
- Refusing to define a students’ ability at the start of their secondary school journey by giving them a ‘minimum expected grade’ to achieve in KS3 – these are used only at KS4 and KS5 now when they link directly to examined courses;
- A well designed and challenging assessment at the end of year such as an examination or practical assessment in Years 7 and 8 – to produce summative data, and to prepare students for the challenging demands of the examinations required by the new GCSE and A Level courses;
- Flexibility to allow for a students’ ability in subjects to be recognised as having variability (you might be a brilliant mathematician but not so great at art for example), but recognising that nearly every subject will need to prepare students for linear written examinations at the end of Year 11.
To get this assessment of each student’s progress right, we have done the following:
- All subject areas have a clear understanding of what their students should know, understand and be able to do by the end of each year at KS3.
- Students’ Key Stage 2 data, CATS test results and for some subjects, a baseline test is used to organise students into ‘LCA prior attainment groups’:
This information will be generated internally only and is to be used by teachers. We do not share this with students. The information will identify a student’s starting point, but will not anchor them in any one group, or limit the progress they are able to make. It is subject to change on an annual basis by subject teachers who will consider how well they have progressed in the previous year. From this, departments will be able to measure a student’s progress throughout the year from where they started. Teachers will discuss each student’s progress with their parents at each PCE in line with the individual expectations for that child.
- As a school, we need to reach a judgement about how well your child is performing in each of his/her subject areas so that we can keep you informed of their progress. The rates of progress individuals make will be determined mostly by their motivation and determination. Teachers use assessment in a variety of forms to measure how well an individual is doing.
Each student will make progress that is relative to their starting point. There are four stages of progress that your child could make per subject:
- Exceeding (E) expected progress: currently likely to exceed their end of year expectations
- Meeting (M) expected progress: currently likely to meet their end of year expectations
- Working towards (W) expected progress: currently likely to just miss achieving their end of year expectations
- Underperforming (U) against expected progress: currently unlikely to achieve their end of year expectations
Parents can expect to see particular strengths or areas for development emerging in certain areas of the curriculum and it is very likely that students will ‘exceed’ in some subjects and not in others.
For more detailed information regarding ‘Assessing at Key Stage 3’ please do study the booklet available by clicking here
LCA ASSESSING AT KEY STAGE 3 STUDENT AND PARENT GUIDE, which has also been emailed to all parents of KS3 students.
Key Stage 4 & 5
At Key Stage 4 and 5 the online assessment information report includes progress in relation to end of key stage Minimum Expected Grades (MEGs) which are colour coded for ease of analysis.
At KS4 and 5 each student will be given a MEG in the form of the new GCSE / BTEC / A level grade that is the minimum that we expect the student to achieve in that subject, by the end of the Key Stage.
For KS4 this grade is what students nationally with similar KS2 scores are expected to achieve at the end of the Key Stage 4. We use Fisher Family Trust – an educational company with over 20 years’ of examination data linked to KS2 scores, coupled with teacher expertise and knowledge of each student, to set these MEGs.
Of course MEGs indicate the ‘most likely’ grade achieved nationally based on KS2 data for each subject and as there is no ceiling to applying effort and overall achievement, your child should always aim to achieve at the very highest level that they are capable of and use the MEG as a guide.
For KS5 the MEG is what students nationally with similar KS4 GCSE scores are expected to achieve at the end of KS5. We use ALPs to set these MEGs. The MEG represents the minimum expected grade and well-motivated students can achieve better grades than that. It also goes without saying that students with the wrong attitude to their studies will find it difficult to achieve their MEGs. KS5 students will be expected to consistently produce work of this standard and beyond.
Each year group will have at least one academic progress evening, which we call Parent Consultation Evenings (PCE) where progress is discussed with teachers.
A summative report is written once per year by the tutor to share holistic progress with you across all facets of school life.
Supporting students in their choices and for their future careers is something we value highly at our school. We are committed to delivering a programme of study that helps to prepare students for the world of work. In Year 7 students are encouraged to develop a wide range of transferable skills through our ASPIRE programme. This delivery continues throughout years 8-13 and is fine tuned to be delivered at the appropriate time with appropriate content. Students are all able to create an online account to map their skills against various careers and study options using ‘UNIFROG’ careers software. This helps guide your child towards clear, comprehensive and impartial information that is always relevant to them. We ensure that impartial advice is delivered through the ASPIRE programme, ASPIRE days, careers interviews with tutors, the senior team and with an external careers officer.
Enrichment and Masterclasses
Our enrichment offer is exciting and vast. You will find teachers and students in classrooms, the Resource Centre, in The Hub or on the school playing fields involved in their chosen activity. Everything from sport to music, chess, art and photography to revision for an exam. A list of the many and varied clubs is available on the website, and your child has access to over 40 clubs and sporting activities throughout the week. The programme is also displayed around the academy and students are kept informed about the clubs and activities on offer.
There is also a comprehensive programme of masterclasses for exam based subjects which we encourage all students to attend. This programme is shared regularly with students and their parents throughout the year.
GCSE Reforms – a guide
The Government introduced the new GCSEs with the aim of increasing both their rigour and revising the content. These reforms are now fully in place.
Some of the key changes are as follows:
- All course assessment is usually at the end of the Y11. There will be no more modular examinations and there will be restrictions on which exams students can take early.
- Exams will form 100% of the assessment in most subjects. Coursework and controlled assessments will cease in most subjects.
- There will be a new grading scale which uses numbers instead of letters. The scale will be from 9 to 1, with 9 being the highest. Applied vocational subjects will use grading systems including pass, merit and distinction.
- All courses (both GCSE and Applied Vocational) are designed to be more challenging and demanding. This will be evident in the increased content, the length and number of examinations and the style of questions.
It is therefore vital that we work in partnership to ensure that when asked to revise and prepare for these assessments as part of their homework, students do so diligently. In order to help students develop the habit of working at home please check Show My Homework regularly and ensure the work set is completed to a good standard.
We know that changes to exams can be very complicated for all concerned. There are many places that you can get further information from. We have listed these below:
- Teachers/tutors at the Academy can explain all changes
- The exams regulator, Ofqual. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofqual
- All the different exam board websites such as AQA, EDEXCEL, OCR etc.
- The Department for Education https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/get-the-facts-gcse-and-a-level-reform
Click on the links below to view the Curriculum Guides for each year: