Thoughts from the Headteacher’s office

Teaching and learning in KS3

Does our curriculum in the lower school enable a direct progression from  pupils’ starting points to successfully achieving the required skills and knowledge at their GCSE’s?

This is a question we have been asking recently. Skills such as:

•Evaluating
•Interpreting
•Comparing & Contrasting
•Analysing
•Researching
•Managing information
•Planning
•Comparing
•Observing
•Designing
•Thinking to higher levels
•Studying independently
•Communicating
•Manipulating
•Transferability
are all essential to the 21st century and we ensure that through the KS3 curriculum students are able to practice and improve on these skills. However the indicators from the Department of Education suggest that there will be a return to a more knowledge based curriculum not just in the new KS3 National Curriculum, to be taught from September 2015 but in the new GCSE specifications which are coming soon.

We at Woodcote need to consider our response to this shift in emphasis in terms of:

•Balance of knowledge and skills based teaching in the lower school
•Length of KS3 content
•Ensuring new KS3 curriculum prepares students for GCSE study
•Ensuring that students who are making insufficient progress in the lower school are monitored, tracked and appropriate interventions applied

The lower school achievement manager (Mr. Stone) has already begun a comprehensive tracking and monitoring project aimed at identifying underachievement in the lower school and intervening to get students back on track as soon as possible. Many parents will be aware of this through these interventions. We are however doing more to ensure that KS3 prepares our students not only for GCSEs but for life:

1.We are providing an opportunity for a member of each department to spend time in a local primary school, specifically looking at  what the pupils know before they join us so they can hit the ground running
2.Heads of Department have been asked to re-organise the current schemes of work, in order to meet the new National Curriculum. However, the emphasis on required skills will assist pupils in every subject, whether they continue that option to GCSE level or not. This is not only vital to avoid the regression between Primary and Secondary, but also in preparing the pupils for the forthcoming knowledge-based examinations.
3.We will look at the Year 7-9 schemes of work and establish what is working and what is not. Every scheme of work must include expectations of independent study and research;
4.We will include Year 9 Maths, English and Science into the Summer exam timetable to prepare them for their GCSE experience of sitting terminal exams.
Success in KS3 lays the foundation of success in GCSEs and beyond. With teachers, students and parents working together we can use this essential stage to move the school to even greater success.