Here are 10 ways that our teaching approach at GA is bringing the best out of our curriculum
1. A more challenging KS3 curriculum
Faculty Leaders have written a more challenging KS3 curriculum which builds on childrens’ gains in the primary phase. There is now more challenge in rewritten Y7 curriculum, and a focus on extension work which actually extends (not ‘do more’ but ‘do harder’). Each Faculty creates a big picture of what the Yr7,8,9 curriculum looks like, then drills backwards from the tougher 1-9 GCSE specifications and also forwards from Yr5/6 new standards to develop a much more challenging curriculum so our children at GA make much more rapid progress. Each scheme of work incorporates greater challenge – which means explanations are deeper and turn into more in-depth explantions in books. This richer curriculum hooks students into learning more effectively.
2. Disruption-free learning
Our behaviour system removes any disruption so that learning and progress is not disturbed. We want to create a happy school, where students are entirely comfortable and happy knowing they will work hard, be treated well and not have their learning disrupted. We want teachers to know that they will be able to deliver the most stimulating lessons, and be able to enjoy teaching, instead of spending time managing distracting behaviour. We want all of us as parents to be able to have absolute confidence that we send our child to a disruption-free school.
3. Our GA Teaching Document for better progress drives teaching at GA
There is an explicit approach to our more able students (with and without the pupil premium) who need a rich curriculum, more enrichment opportunities, challenge in reading, challenge in writing, high level modelled work and exposure to university visits.
4. 8 week assessment cycle
Our 8 week assessment cycle means that direct instruction of key concepts & curriculum content are taught first, then followed by a period of extension and mastery for most able students and re-teaching of common misconceptions where students need support.
5. The use of high level exemplars
We are using high-level modelled answers which support students in driving up the standard of written answers. In addition teachers will teach specifically the skills necessary to craft this standard of writing. Redrafting of answers is a regular feature of lessons. Subject specific vocabulary is taught well and learnt in homework tasks. Teacher frequently sit and work alongside pupils crafting better writing and challenging the more able. Teaching assistants (TAs) help to extend writing.
6. The 5 minute silent starter
– is now a firm feature of each lesson of the academy. This creates a calm and purposeful start to each lesson, ensures that the right expectations are set right at the start.
7. Extended writing in silence periods
A regular feature of most lessons is a period of well planned , building on modelled written answers.
8. Beautiful exercise books
Immaculate presentation of books, careful note-taking and the development of high level revision notes is a priority.
9. Homework is much more challenging as a clear expectation.
Faculties set 4 well planned challenging homeworks each term which routinely involve extended writing and a minimum-word expectation. These are published to parents and are on the website so that there is a real transparency in how we are working. Challenging hwk is one of the ways in which the schemes of work bring greater rigour and challenge in KS3, preparing students more effectively for the written demands of KS4.
10. Use of formal language and responses
Through training teachers are now more skilled in challenging and upskilling student responses & language in classroom. Teachers use of ‘Talk, think, pair, share, write’ ensuring teacher explanations are deep, rich and turn into deep explanations in books.