Overview: Vision and Intent
At St. Anne’s Catholic High School for Girls, our aim is to provide excellent and enjoyable learning for all of our students through providing a broad and balanced curriculum, with opportunity for some specialisation in areas of strength or interest from Year 10 onwards. Through developing excellent knowledge in each of our subject areas and a broader appreciation of culture, our students develop a love of learning. Through our curriculum we strive to develop in our students the qualities of being conscientious, considerate and co-operative and to enhance their opportunities for life. By ensuring the curriculum is well planned with clearly defined end points and is carefully sequenced we ensure that our students know more, remember more, and understand better.
Each of our curriculum areas has judiciously identified key knowledge that will enable students to have a secure understanding of our cultural heritage and the world around us. We have made sure that this key knowledge at least matches or goes beyond national curriculum requirements in all subject areas.
Our curriculum has been carefully sequenced so that students acquire mastery and embed deep and rich knowledge webs in long term memory. Our students are given many opportunities to apply this knowledge in a broad range of academic and vocational studies, so that they become fluent and skilful in application. This enables our students to not only achieve success in examinations at GCSE and Advanced Level, but also to solve complex real-life problems.
Curriculum subjects have identified precisely defined ‘end points’ for each module. They have then planned the small components of learning students need to achieve at each end point.
Curriculum breadth and balance
A key principle of our curriculum design is to provide a broad, enriching cultural experience through our teaching of subjects and our enrichment programme. This cultural experience includes a wide range of clubs, cultural visits and leadership opportunities so that students enjoy learning and understand how so many aspects of science, the arts and culture are interconnected in a fascinating and exciting way.
In designing our subject curricula, our subject leaders have carefully sequenced the teaching of knowledge, so key concepts that underpin understanding and later knowledge are covered earlier in the course, and then revisited on numerous occasions as more detailed knowledge is built. We have been led by respected research in cognitive science; the understanding that spiralling knowledge acquisition by constantly revisiting prior learning and ensuring knowledge is embedded in long term memory, is fundamental to designing a high-quality curriculum. We recognise that short term memory is limited and unreliable. Therefore, we always strive to connect new learning to previous experience and knowledge and make learning relevant to real world contexts, this helps embed learning in longer term memory.
Home study and assessment
Our curriculum is designed to fully engage students outside the classroom by integrating home study tasks. These are carefully planned to reinforce recent and past learning and enhancing fluency by ensuring students apply new knowledge to a wide variety of contexts.
Assessment is designed so that teachers are continually reviewing how well students are learning and are adapting their teaching to address this. Key features of how we assess students includes the following:
- In nearly all lessons teachers set a starter task for students to commence working as soon as they arrive in the classroom. The vast majority of starter tasks review key knowledge learnt. This enables the teacher to decide whether students need additional teaching or support before moving on to the main teaching points for the lesson.
- After the main teaching episode, the teacher checks whether students understand by questioning or checking work, to decide what further reinforcement of the main teaching points are needed.
- In the last section of each lesson the teacher uses a plenary activity to gauge how well the students have understood the main teaching points. This helps the teacher plan the next lesson effectively.
- Students at appropriate times are provided with a check sheet of the key learning points they will cover in each half-term, so they can rate their learning and revise areas they have not yet mastered.
- Home study tasks review key learning points in class and are at times are self or peer marked by students so that they can see for themselves how to improve. Teachers check home study has been completed and give feedback to the class and individual students.
- Students complete a test or assessment in the final week of each half-term. 50% of the marks are allocated to the key learning points covered during the half-term, whilst the rest of the marks are for topics covered previously to test whether the students have retained their learning in long term memory. Tests and assessments are marked as a percentage. Students review the tests in class so that they are aware of further learning needed on topics covered.
Support and challenge
We are aware that students learn at different rates and that some students will find learning more difficult than others. A core principle for us is all students are supported to learn. In order to achieve this, we put in place additional structure, small group and individual support to help students struggling to learn key knowledge. For students who have mastered key knowledge more complex challenges are given, where they are required to apply their knowledge to solve a variety of abstract and real-life problems.
Supporting students with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND)
We are determined that all students including those with SEND have full access to our ambitious and challenging curriculum. In order to achieve this, we have put in place the following:
- The core principle of mastery – that through structure, support and additional help all students are enabled to access the full curriculum, to understand the key concepts and retain essential knowledge in long term memory. All teachers use teaching methods that are evidence based and have been proven to be effective with SEND and disadvantaged students. We ensure key knowledge is constantly reviewed and revisited to embed the key knowledge in long term memory and use ‘scaffolding’ where needed so that all students are building their knowledge incrementally. We then give practice applying the knowledge in scenarios of gradually increasing complexity. In this way students gain fluency and confidence.
- We have identified issues with literacy and comprehension as being a major obstacle to learning. Each year between 10 and 15 students join us in Year 7 with reading ages of 8 years or lower. These students have intensive support. We have found that students participating in the programme typically increase their reading age by two to three years.
- The sequencing of learning in mathematics is carefully arranged to build new knowledge upon prior learning and constantly revisit key concepts and ideas in a range of contexts. The mathematics teachers place particular emphasis on identifying misconceptions, so that these can be quickly addressed. This approach particularly benefits students with SEND and accelerates their progress in mathematics. For students who struggle with mathematics interventions are put into place e.g. teaching assistants, who build confidence and help misconceptions be clarified.
- ‘The A.R.P’ is a learning centre based across the two sites (opened in September 2022). It provides bespoke support for students with autism and other conditions that could be a barrier to learning. This is staffed by specialists who confidently lead intervention programmes in numeracy, literacy, reading, self-esteem and confidence, social skills, and other areas identified for individual students e.g. through an Education and Health Care Plan or a Pastoral Support Plan.
The Core Curriculum
Our ‘Core Curriculum’ spans Year 7 to Year 11 and has been carefully thought through to build students’ key knowledge, fluency and understanding. All students study the following subjects throughout their time at St. Anne’s in Years 7-11:
- English Language and Literature
- Science including Biology, Chemistry and Physics
- Religious Education
- Design and Technology: Food, Graphics & Textiles
- Modern Foreign Languages: French & Spanish
- Physical Education
- Citizenship, Personal, Social, Health and Careers Education - CPSHE
- Relationships and Sex Education - RSE
The English Baccalaureate (EBacc)
Underpinning our Core Curriculum is the EBacc. The EBacc consists of English language and literature, mathematics, science, a modern foreign language and either history or geography. We strongly believe that the EBacc particularly when combined with creative, practical or vocational subjects provides students with an excellent knowledge of the modern world and an appreciation and enjoyment of culture that will help students succeed in life and gain all the advantages of a broad and enriching education. We are ambitious in our expectation that the large majority of our students will follow the EBacc.