In Years 7 and 8, students follow The Development Stage Curriculum.
In Years 9 to 11, students follow The Qualifications Stage Curriculum.
In the Sixth Form, students follow The Advanced Stage Curriculum.
This exciting new curriculum shows that, as an Academy, we embrace change if we are convinced that the change will lead to significant benefits for our learners. Indeed, the main benefits of this new curriculum can be summed up as follows:
IMPROVED PREPARATION FOR AND PERFORMANCE IN GCSE EXAMINATIONS
Under the current Government, there is an ongoing review of qualifications. This has been characterised by a move towards more rigorous, academic curriculum, with a greater focus on formal examinations.
Therefore, starting examination courses at the start of Year 9, and having 3 years of study, allows more time and space for the increased challenges of final examinations to be addressed through in-depth, engaging and enjoyable learning.
By following the Academy Curriculum, our young people will have more time and space to:
– Gain a real depth and breadth of subject-specific knowledge, understanding and skills.
– Formally learn and practise revision and examination techniques in GCSE lessons in a more thorough and integrated way.
– Spend more time practising examination questions and doing mock exams etc.
– Experience enrichment activities such as visits and guest speakers, which will help to consolidate, broaden and deepen learning in an enjoyable way.
It is important to note that starting examination courses in Year 9 does not mean that students are expected to complete their courses early so that they can go on to the Advanced Stage prematurely. Rather, we endeavour to ensure that the extra curriculum time is fully utilised to help students gain the very best grades possible in an increasingly challenging educational climate. Therefore, schemes of work have been re-written in all subjects to ensure that the above points are addressed.
IMPROVED PACE AND PURPOSE IN YEARS 7 AND 8
Based on a substantial amount of research, it has been argued that a 3- year Key Stage 3 is too long, and that students are ready to move on to examination courses well before the end of Year 9.
Also, research has shown that there is a greater sense of pace, purpose and urgency in a condensed curriculum because students are now expected to make two levels of progress in 2 years instead of 3 and are pushed to develop the skills and learning habits required for the Qualifications Stage.
The Development Stage (Years 7 and 8)
The purpose of the curriculum in The Development Stage is to help students:
- Make a successful transition from primary sch
- Develop the essential skills and learning habits which are needed in the Qualifications Stage, so that GCSE outcomes are maximized at the end of their
5-year learning journey.
- Develop the knowledge and understanding of key issues and values which are
required to help them become safe, responsible and well-rounded, employable citizens.
- Begin to learn, reflect and make choices about the future world of work and employability skills.
The commitment that we show to helping Development Stage students prepare for the world of work in an age appropriate way is a key element of the Careers Quality Mark that we are in the process of applying for
Throughout the Development Stage, students follow a broad and balanced curriculum, comprising of the following subjects:
Mathematics, English, Science, Art , Drama, Geography, French or German , History, Information Technology, Music, Physical Education, Personal & Social Education, Religious Education, Design & Technology (Graphics, Resistant Materials and Food Technology.)
During The Development Stage, there are regular PFL Days (Preparation For Life) which occur once every half-term. On these days, students experience a wide and stimulating range of curriculum enrichment and enhancement activities, including a wide range of visits, which form an important part of Careers Education and which promote the students’ Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development.
Another exciting part of the Development Stage Curriculum is the Year 8 Challenge Week, in which all Year 8 students are encouraged to participate. This is an exciting outdoor education week, based at the Outward Bound Centre in Aberdovey. The programme is carefully planned and strategically placed within the Academic Year in order to support students as they make the important transition to The Qualifications Stage. During this week, students participate in many different outdoor activities, including mountain walking, camping, canoeing, rock-climbing and water activities. Key learning during the week focuses on facing and overcoming new challenges, team working and problem solving in preparation for the transition into the Qualification Stage.
Another important aspect of the Development Stage Curriculum is Personal Social and Health Education, which has a very clear threefold focus on:
-helping our young people to practice essential study skills for the Qualification Stage.
-beginning the process of careers education. (In addition to careers education through PSE
lessons, all subjects contribute to the teaching of employability skills on a regular basis.)
-learning about important social and safeguarding issues.
At the start of the Development Stage, a few Year 7 pupils are chosen to be a part of a teaching group for Year 7 students who require extra support with their literacy. For the students in this teaching group, there is a major focus on ensuring rapid progress in Literacy, through the following subjects: English, Drama, PSE, RE, History, Geography, German, Art and IC
The Qualifications Stage (Years 9, 10 and 11)
Through the curriculum at the Qualifications Stage, we aim to ensure that students:
1.Gain academic qualifications at the best possible grades, in order to maximise their future life-chances. At Erasmus Darwin Academy, we have an absolute commitment to this cause.
2.Retain an element of choice regarding the curriculum they follow, so that they are able to study some subjects that meet their personal needs and interests.
3.Prepare for the future world of work as meaningfully as possible, through a range of subjects and special curriculum events.
4.Learn about key safeguarding topics and their implications in order to help keep them as safe and well as possible.
Throughout the Qualifications Stage, all students follow the core subjects of Maths, English, Science, Physical Education, Information Technology, Personal and Social Education and Religious Education. (These last two subjects are delivered through the GCSE Philosophy and Ethics course.)
Following consultation with the University of Birmingham’s Digital Sills and Technology Department, a compulsory IT element was incorporated into the Qualifications Stage curriculum from September 2017 onwards. This is direct a response to the growing ‘digital skills shortage’ which is being widely reported by the government and business leaders and which could have a detrimental effect on Britain’s future economy. And, it is important to realise that a ‘shortage of digital skills’ doesn’t just mean a shortage of those advanced, high-level, specific digital skills (i.e coding/ programming, cyber-security, SEO, high level data analysis, interconnectivity); it also refers to those more general, everyday digital skills which help to “fit someone for living, learning and working in a digital society” (JISC)
These everyday skills include the highly competent use of office applications, emails, web-design, multi-media presentations, advanced internet searches.
Click here to read some of the findings of a recent House of Commons Science & Technology Report, which brings into sharp focus the national Digital Skills Crisis and the consequent responsibility of schools to address this issue.
1.75% of employers in a recent survey, admitted that they would not interview candidates for jobs if they could not demonstrate basic ICT skills to a high standard.
2.Even though digital skills are perceived by many to be as important to employability as basic literacy in English and Maths, 12.6 million adults lack these basic digital skills in the UK
3.The digital skills deficit is particularly stark for young people, many of which lack these core, employability skills.
4.There are still, annually, nearly one million young people who are classed as NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training ) who are born “digital natives” but who lack basic digital skills required for work.
5.It is not just in the realm of employment where a dearth of basic digital literacy is being felt. Russell Group universities have reported that highly academic students, following academic degree courses, are struggling to show mastery of basic ICT skills required to research, analyse and present information to a high standard (through the skilled use of spreadsheets, databases, advanced internet searches, multi-media presentations)
Therefore, the compulsory ICT course which all students follow in the Qualification Stage, aims to ensure that all students :
-consolidate and develop everyday digital skills and acquire new ones, to help “fit them for
living, learning and working in a digital society”
-gain knowledge, understanding and skills in areas of more advanced digital literacy, such as
cyber security, interconnectivity, data analysis.
-gain an accredited qualification which shows future employers/education providers that a
high standard of competency, in key areas of digital literacy, has been achieved.
As well as core subjects, students also follow three option subjects. Indeed, we are very proud of the extensive range of option subjects that we offer, comprising of a wide variety of academic and vocational courses which are able to meet the needs and interests of students.
One of the option subjects offered at EDA is Triple Science, thus providing sufficient curriculum time for the three separate GCSEs in Chemistry, Physics and Biology to be studied, as an alternative for the combined Science qualification. This is particularly important for those students who have a passion for and aptitude for the Sciences. Indeed, due to the importance of Science and Technology for the future economy, the separate sciences option is, according to the government and business leaders, an increasingly preferred scenario in schools.
Click here to read some of the findings of a recent government Select Committee Report and a report by the Confederation of British Industry about the importance of the separate Sciences for the future economy
A recent Select Committee Report, commissioned by the government, said that the teaching of the three single Sciences, as three separate GCSEs, needs to be encouraged in schools. This is because students who follow this path are the students most likely to study Sciences at A Level and graduate level and Britain’s the future economic well-being depends upon a workforce with highly developed Science skills. Indeed, according to the UK Commision for Employment and Skills, the UK is facing a Science skills shortage which needs to be addressed immediately.
Also, the CBI recently called upon the government to ensure that the three single Sciences continue to be taught in schools. Katja Hall, Chief Policy Director for the CBI, stated:
“As the economy rebalances, we will need more highly skilled employees, particularly for young people with Science degrees, but businesses are struggling to recruit good graduates from the UK…the Government has neglected the sciences. It must pay more attention to getting students to study physics, chemistry and biology as separate GCSEs”
Regarding option subjects at Erasmus Darwin Academy, we are proud of the fact that we still retain an element of ‘open choice’ in our curriculum planning. This means that students’ option choices are not driven by pre-determined blocks, thus enabling students to have some free choice regarding the subjects they want to follow. Combined with strong advice and guidance, this means that courses are well-matched to students’ individual needs and interests, ensuring that there is a high level of satisfaction and engagement in option subjects.
In terms of the EBacc, we specify that students must study either a Language or a Humanities subject for the sake of retaining a balance to their academic disciplines. However, we do not make it compulsory for any student to study BOTH a Modern Foreign Language and a Humanities subject. We are not prepared to cynically chase EBacc performance scores at the expense of the academic or emotional well-being of students.
Regarding Modern Foreign Languages, we value and actively promote French and German to our students and extol the benefits of these subjects from an academic, cultural and career point of view. Indeed, regarding the future career benefits of studying a Modern Foreign Language, it is important for students to show that they have an aptitude and desire to learn a foreign language in a society where the world of work is becoming increasingly globalized. Although we actively encourage students to take a Modern Foreign Language, we do not coerce students against their will, to follow German or French at the expense of subject which is more useful/appropriate/inspiring to them. At EDA, we aim to have healthy numbers of students studying a Modern Foreign Language, but it is important that these are all students who want to study one.
As students progress through the Qualifications Stage, they benefit from a well-established and extensive range of extra-curricular booster and revision classes for all GCSE subjects, which are designed to help students gain the best GCSE grades possible. These classes run before school, after school, during lunch and break-times, during school holidays and at weekends. Please click here to view the extra-curricular Intervention Timetable
PFL (Preparation for Life) Days
At the Qualifications Stage, Flexible Learning Days in the Qualifications Stage are used for maximising GCSE Achievement, through special revision or subject booster sessions and for preparing students for the world of work, through a range of careers events and activities.
Keeping Children Safe
Across a range of subjects in the Qualifications Stage, a range of safeguarding topics are taught, as important part of the Academy’s safeguarding arrangements. The teaching of these topics will broaden and deepen the students’ understanding of key issues, as we strive to keep our students as safe and well as possible.