As a Studio School, our vision is to deliver an authentic STEM based education for the 21st century for young people from the age of 14-19. The aim of our curriculum is to ensure that all students develop a passion for learning and achieve high levels of academic success in a range of subjects with a focus on those specifically related to STEM. We believe that our curriculum should equip our young people with the knowledge and skills required to play an active and successful role in today’s highly competitive and fast-changing world and to meaningfully engage with a wide range of employment opportunities from our community. To this end students at both key stage 4 and Post 16 have trans disciplinary project based learning as part of their curriculum (core project at key stage 4 and ATL: Applied trans-disciplinary learning at Post 16)
Whilst our curriculum allows for the development of the knowledge, skills and qualifications required for success in the globalised world of today, it also aims to encourage creativity, celebrate diversity and link with the cultural experiences of our local community.
The Futures Institute curriculum aims to:
- Ensure a focused curriculum coverage related to STEM
- Develop a knowledge-rich curriculum through both single discipline and transdisciplinary learning
- Ensure that knowledge acquisition is enhanced through being applied to real-life situations and problems
- Ensure that all learning is challenging and engaging
- Develop transferrable future skills through the application of knowledge into actions for success.
- Ensure high rates of progress for all students.
- Promote teacher planning that is integral to the success of the curriculum and also manageable.
Futures Institute shares a common philosophy with other schools in the Aspirations Trust. There are three guiding principles that all Aspirations Academies adhere to, which are therefore central to our curriculum planning. These are:
We will also ensure that the following Core Principles clearly feature in every element of the academy’s curriculum planning.
- High Expectations – Being the very best you can be in your school and community
- Opportunity – Matching your interests with activities that will help you to leave school well-rounded and confident
- Challenge – Making your learning exciting and relevant to the real world
- Talent Development – Enhancing your natural strengths and abilities so you thrive in school and beyond
- Innovation and Enterprise – Supporting your creativity by encouraging you to ask ‘Why?’ and ‘Why not?’
- Makers and Creators – Being a creator, not just a consumer, of technology in our digital world
- Global – Having the cultural awareness needed to communicate in our interconnected world
- Employability – Equipping you with the skills and abilities you’ll need to excel in our ever-changing world
- With Big Dreams and Hard Work – Aspirations means to dream about the future while being inspired in the present to reach those dreams.
Our curriculum has been developed to meet the needs of students so that they have both embodied and institutional cultural capital with Employability and Future Skills as the centerpiece of our educational provision. We see these skills as being:
- Cross-cultural competency
- Creative and adaptive thinking
- Cognitive load management
- Media literacy
- Productivity and accountability
Implementation of the curriculum
At Futures Institute, we view curriculum implementation as the provision, design and pedagogic practices which lead to successful impact upon students’ achievement. For the intent and implementation for individual subjects, as well as detail of knowledge and concepts, and associated skill delivery and assessment, please see subject pages.
Our curriculum is designed as a 2-year Key stage 4, which we believe provides students with the time and space to gain secure understanding of a broad and coherent knowledge and skills base. As a Studio School we follow a STEM focussed curriculum, with personal development (which includes PSHE, RSHE and careers and economic education) and RE/Ethics being delivered through drop-down hours and during mentor time and employability skills through core projects and ATL.
Through curriculum provision, our subject leaders plan sequenced units of learning which build a secure and substantive, powerful knowledge. Curriculum provision is mapped across the year and between the year groups, and is planned for progression, challenge and coherence. The provision is mapped for powerful knowledge (Mary Myatt) and for development of skills, both subject-specific and metacognitive.
Through lesson delivery, our teachers plan lessons which are sequenced and coherent within the planned provision across the year. Lessons build on prior learning and provide challenge to deepen understanding alongside cumulative knowledge. As an Academy which utilises research evidence to inform practice, we have garnered information from a variety of sources such as the Education Endowment Foundation, as well as integrated approaches from Doug Lemov – Teach like a Champion strategies, the Accelerated Learning Cycle and Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction via Tom Sherrington, to develop our pedagogic practice. As a result, you will see in our lessons: a recap of prior learning; sharing of the big picture and learning intentions; guided practice, which ensures that new material is presented in small steps with student practice, with modelling of concepts, as well as high levels of questioning and strategies to secure retention for later application; independent practice of high challenge and applied knowledge and skills, which is monitored, questioned and scaffolded for difficult tasks; and a review and reflect period for consolidation and assessment. This produces lessons which are purposeful, challenging, memorable and accessible. Students’ books will show evidence of levels of challenge, high quality provision, which meets the aims of the curriculum and demonstrates progress over time. Pupils with SEND and disadvantaged students will encounter the same challenging content and skill development, with our teachers to personalise support to meet their needs as necessary.
Through homework, our students will be confident independent learners, who work hard to embed, extend and enrich their learning. They are set meaningful homework that is linked to the curriculum delivered in the classroom. This quality homework will consist of a range of tasks designed to: embed, which ensures that students consolidate what they have learnt in the classroom; extend, in which students will develop their knowledge and skills; or enrich, in which students will connect their learning to the wider world. While we follow government guidelines as to how much homework students should complete on a daily basis, the quality of homework set is more important than the amount of work set. Students are also encouraged to use a proportion of their daily time for homework on reading for pleasure.
Through assessment, our assessments are regular, rigorous and robust. We moderate in departments after each data capture for each year group, for both professional development purposes and accuracy of assessment. Assessments are used to check understanding and to plan for next steps in terms of intervention and teaching, and are subsequently scrutinised by departments and SLT. Our assessments are based on cumulative knowledge, in that knowledge or skills from previous units of learning are assessed in later assessments, and cumulative in themselves.
Through professional development, our staff body participates in professional development which is based around universal, targeted and specialist provision. Our professional development universal offer is focused on the development of pedagogic practices of metacognition, that is strategies that focus upon the retention of knowledge rather than just recall of facts, plan, monitor and evaluate strategies, effective guided practice, bridging the vocabulary gap and mental health champion training. Universal provision is based on communities of practice models, with peer planning and coaching being at the heart of the provision; groups of staff members collaboratively plan support and coach each other to excellent practice in line with our curriculum implementation plan. Targeted development occurs through coaching after monitoring practices but also occur during department meetings. This is where expert subject knowledge is developed in relation to the curriculum. Here expert practice is shared, which is both outward and inward looking, moderation activities are facilitated, subject specific gaps are identified, and a focus upon collaborative planning occurs. These sessions are regularly scheduled for teams of staff. Collaborative planning focuses upon the next sessions in the units of learning, best approaches, common misconceptions, key language development and associated assessments and ensures progression across the curriculum. The Iris video tool is a key part in developing professional expertise.
Through personal development, our teachers deliver RSHE, economic careers and guidance education, Physical health and mental well-being and British values. We deliver content and skills through a weekly mentor time session and during dedicated drop-down hours focusing on these areas in depth (however, during the covid pandemic, this will be delivered through drop everything and teach personal development /ethics). During mentor time we use resources focusing upon well-being, them and us, orate and LORIC. RE/Ethics is mapped into personal development days and drop-down hours. The delivery is an integrated approach with outside speakers, visits out, students’ participation and parental engagement. Our careers education is fully compliant with Gatsby benchmark expectations, as exemplified by our performance on the compass self-audit tool (see employability section on the website) but in addition, is meaningfully embedded into the trans disciplinary learning both in core project and ATL where links to employers and industry are central to the learning.
Through enrichment, we believe that both embodied and institutionalized cultural capital are fundamental to the curriculum. We recognise the formal curriculum in securing institutional cultural capital or currency, but we ensure that students, regardless of ability or disadvantage, are developing their embodied cultural capital through a variety of experiences which are both related directly to the subject and integrated into planning units of learning, as well as whole school activities from Aspirations weeks to work experience to Duke of Edinburgh to visits abroad. We believe this is an entitlement and we track those who participate in those activities on offer and analyse by gender, pupils with SEND and disadvantaged students. Opportunity for further extracurricular activity happens regularly during the week after school, a link to which can be found at the end of this document.
At Futures Institute we believe that a well thought out curriculum, which meets the needs of all students, should lead to good results and destinations .
The impact of the curriculum is evaluated through the following measures:
- The percentage of students who achieve at least expected academic progress and high levels of attainment in national assessments and examinations (GCSE and GCE A level)
- Progress and attainment of current students
- Reading Test data
- ‘Cultural Capital’ for disadvantaged and students with SEND
- The range of high level 21st century skills developed by students
- Destinations data – The percentage of students entering employment or higher levels of study
- The percentage of learning that is challenging and engaging
- Attendance data
- The percentage of students engaging in enrichment activities
- Student Voice
Studio Schools are required to (DFE 2013)
- provide a broad and balanced curriculum including the core subjects of maths,English and science, develop students’ employability skills through project-based learning, and make provision for the teaching of religious education.
Presently, Aspirations Academies Trust has introduced an exciting and creative curriculum which means the way the curriculum is implemented is two-fold:
- The ‘No limits: Curriculum for success in the 21st century’ is being developed and was introduced in all Aspirations Academies in September 2019, initially in Years 4, 7 and 12. The intention is that the main features of this curriculum will eventually inform a common curriculum approach from the ages of 4 to 18. The expectation is that each academy will follow the collective curriculum outlines and philosophy whilst also putting its own personal and local stamp on their own curriculum which meets the needs of their particular body of students. The shared, collective curriculum will enable sufficient commonality of subjects, topics and assignments to enable cross-Trust moderation and raising of standards.
- Currently in the other year groups (not 4, 7 and 12) the curriculum is unique to each academy. In the primary phase there is some commonality in that the focus is on English, maths and the Aspirations (creative) curriculum, whilst in the secondary phase there has been a move towards using the same GCSE and A level subject specifications in order to drive the curriculum across all year groups. The National Curriculum forms the basis of the curriculum plan in all Aspirations Academies. The knowledge and skills development required in each subject are carefully sequenced and mapped out within each year group and across each Key stage. As a Multi-Academy Trust that educates children from the age of 2 to 18, we also ensure that there is clear sequencing and progression of knowledge and skills between each Key Stage so there is a clear progression pathway.
In order to ensure the development of a curriculum that ensures a depth of knowledge, the application of knowledge and the development of future skills, the central feature of the ‘No Limits’ model is the development of a curriculum that fully embraces both single-discipline learning (CORE) and trans-discipline learning (APPLIED). Both have a place in the curriculum. The CORE learning sessions occur both as regular timetabled single-discipline learning sessions as well as during the ATL assignment sessions as specific knowledge workshops. The APPLIED Trans-discipline Learning (ATL) assignments combine several subjects and run from 3 to 11 weeks in length for at least 2 hours most days for up to 8 hours a week. These assignments are designed to apply CORE learning to real-world situations across different domains to ensure student learning is relevant, engaging and challenging. The curriculum structure:
- Core learning (single discipline subjects): English, Maths, Science (single sciences), Computer Science, MFL, Art and Design, Geography, History.
- Transdisciplinary learning: Incorporating a combination of the following subjects: English, Maths, Science (single sciences), Computer Science, Citizenship, MFL, Art and Design, Geography, History.
- Performance: PE*, Music, Drama and Dance
- Assessment, Presentation and Personal Education (APP) weeks: The presentation of high quality transdisciplinary subject assignment, assessment of all core subjects, PSHEE*, sex education*, food education*, citizenship* and Religious Education.
Key Stage 4 for details of these courses please see subject pages – hyperlinked below
Sixth Form for details of these courses please see subject pages – hyperlinked below