Curriculum at St Thomas More Catholic School
The curriculum at St Thomas More is aligned closely to our principles and values as a Catholic school. As such, we place pupils at the centre of our curriculum design, ensuring they have access to all aspects of learning at each key stage ensuring equality of opportunity for all our pupils. We have ambition for all our pupils and our curriculum structure, design and content reflects this.
We have an overarching curriculum intent which focuses on the development of non cognitive academic behaviours which we refer to as ‘Learner Attributes’. The development of these behaviours is central to our curriculum planning and the structures we have in place. Our work in this area is based on research & has been part of the school’s philosophy for many years. We acknowledge the findings from research that tells us that academic behaviours are malleable and have a strong direct and indirect impact on pupils’ progress. We use Key Stage 3 as the foundation for building these non cognitive academic behaviours which then prepares pupils to apply them throughout Key Stage 4 & 5.
Our more specific curriculum intent within individual subject areas is rooted in the identification of the crucial learning that is required by set end points & learning is planned in response to the identification of this and common misconceptions that arise.
As a school we have an overarching framework linked to the implementation of our curriculum. This is a structure that has been in place for many years and supports the building and retention of knowledge across all subject areas.
We have common approaches that we would expect to see in every department / every classroom. These are the foundations of our approach to implementing the curriculum in the most effective way.
The main aspects of our whole school implementation are:
Modular Approach & Curriculum Review Design
- Our curriculum is structured into 3 modules across the academic year. This provides a structured approach for staff, pupils and parents and allows for learning to be consolidated at key points throughout the year, gradually securing learning in the long term memory.
- At the end of each module there is a structured review process for both pupils and staff.
- At a pupil level, there is a review of their ‘Learner Attributes’, where pupils reflect upon and set targets for the development of their academic behaviours. Pupils also review their progress within each curriculum area and set targets linked to subject specific learning.
- At a staff level, there is a collaborative review of the taught curriculum & opportunity to plan any crucial learning, skills or concepts that need to be revisited for individual pupils and / or groups of pupils. Staff utilise assessment information to focus on the key learning required to support further progress, not the analytics associated with this.
- We have a common approach to curriculum planning that ensures all subjects have identified the key concepts, crucial learning and common misconceptions. This then forms the basis of schemes of work.
- Individual subjects structure their long term planning around crucial learning that need to be revisited at key points throughout their academic journey. This is where end points are identified and schemes of work demonstrate how they build towards these.
- We have a common approach to spaced repetition and interleaved learning. This is referred to within the school as ‘Make it Stick’ and is a feature of all curriculum planning.
- Our lesson structure is a well established feature of St Thomas More and supports us to effectively engage pupils in deep thinking about the curriculum.
- Our structure is based on five fluid stages with our ‘construct meaning’ phase providing opportunity for pupils to grapple with difficult concepts and actively engage with the subject content.
Quality Assurance & Support
We have put in place Quality Assurance systems that allow us to monitor the impact of our work in line with our curriculum intent, which include:
Whole school & Departmental Quality Assurance schedule focused on:
- Current Key Priorities
- Implementation [Teacher Knowledge; Teaching; Curriculum; Use of Assessment; Environment & Resources]
- Behaviour & Attitudes
- Personal Development
- Regular Senior and Middle Leader link meetings which review Quality Assurance findings & actions
- Whole School Quality Assurance week, supported by external experts
Our approach to supporting staff is closely linked to the Quality Assurance Process, so that effective support can be given in an appropriate and timely fashion, leading to greater compliance and effectiveness of curriculum implementation and delivery.
As a school we acknowledge that the impact of our curriculum is wider than examination results and can be seen in all aspects of our work. We want our pupils to view their education holistically, and therefore take an holistic approach to evaluating the impact of our work on the various aspects of curriculum. We therefore use a range of strategies to evaluate the impact of our curriculum in line with our implementation framework. In our intent we identify three key areas, we would expect to see the impact of our work as follows:
In terms of ensuring that pupils are at the heart of our curriculum, we would expect to see pupils who are happy and enjoying their learning experience. A well structured curriculum enables all pupils to access a broad and balanced curriculum, which responds to the local needs of our pupils. Ongoing review of the taught curriculum then ensures that we are adapting to the needs of our pupils and ensuring that they acquire the crucial learning set out at key milestones. Our Annual strategic review, based on our principles and linked to Year Group Profiles helps to ensure that the needs of pupils remains at the heart of the curriculum and the Key Performance Indicators and crucial learning are a central part of our modular review. Curriculum leaders review and revise the taught curriculum throughout the year. Overall success lies in our destination data, where our pupils are able to move effectively onto the next phase of their training, education or employment.
The second key area of our intent is the development of pupils’ academic behaviours, and much of this is demonstrated through the school day and year as pupils develop and apply these behaviours both in the classroom and in their independent study. The collection of Learner Attributes Data allows us to intervene with our pupils in a way that will influence their future progress in all subject areas. Pupils’ awareness and ability to verbalise their academic behaviours and make determined efforts to improve these are key indicators of the impact of our work, both in the classroom and in a pastoral setting.
The identification of the crucial learning that is required by set end points and that learning is planned in response to the identification of this and common misconceptions is the third key area of our intent. The impact of this can fundamentally be seen in the success of our learners. On a lesson by lesson basis, all pupils should be exposed to high quality and consistent teaching, reducing any element of teacher variation. Pupils who are secure in their crucial learning will have a strong platform for future progress and build on this throughout their school career. Regular reviews of the curriculum, alongside the use of robust assessment ensure that teaching is responsive to the effectiveness of the curriculum at all levels.
All booklets linked to options will be updated annually. If you would like any further information regarding our curriculum structure and content please do not hesitate to contact us.