My wife doesn't mind me writing if I give her a mention . . . tonight she is at a book group.
Okay with that out the way, I can continue my seemingly sad life, by writing about our phased curriculum structure in the Academy.
If you don't want to read my rambling intro, please go to the "point" from the 3rd paragraph below.
At the moment, in an inner city school such as ours, a large minority, possibly majority, don't access the curriculum effectively enough. The government has set a bench mark of 30% 5 A - Cs including English and Maths. I guess it's pretty fair to say that if 70% of the students are not gaining an A - C in Maths or English (a level 2 qualification), then they will not have really accessed the richness or depth different subjects offer. We would love to aim for at least 80% of our students gaining English and Maths Grade C. I think this is possible, but to do it we to accept that until the students are ready to fully access discrete disciplines/subjects, they need to develop good English/literacy and Maths/numeracy skills and develop really good habits of learning.
Before I go on further let me take time to boast a little - This Year I'm pleased to say we doubled the results of the predecessor school going from 30% to 62% A - Cs and from 19% to 35% with English and maths. Quite a jump in one year. It has encouraged the community to believe in us (our admission figures have shot up) and the government are our best friends. But it's still 65% without English or Maths and of those who have succeeded, how many have the aspirations and wherewithal to really flourish in life; especially when we have systematically worked with many students, spoon-feeding where necessary to ensure they achieved their targets? I don't mean to demean the effort of our students, it is our fault that we have not given them the opportunity earlier on in their education to become more independent learners. The secondary model of education really does seem to create a dependency culture in our students, when it comes to learning. This has not been helped by the pressure on us through league tables and OFSTED
And now to the point
This is why we have introduced PBL to our Year 7s and more specifically only Literacy and Numeracy projects (along with discrete PE and languages). It allows us to focus on what matters and enable students to access the curriculum in a more effective way later on.
Phase 1 - The students begin in Year 7 at this phase. and do not move onto the next phase until they have achieved a Level 1 (grade D equivalent) qualification in English and Maths and exhibit good habits of learning (will talk about htis in another blog). The students follow the PBL Literacy and numeracy programmes. When they have attained Level 1 they will be ready to move to
Transition 1 -This is a half a year programme which gives the students the opportunity to sample discrete subject taster programmes in order to enable them to make informed choices for Phase 2. They will also continue to study maths and English and take part in an extended project. The aim is to re-timetable the whole school twice a year. This meeans some students by Feruary Year 8 will be ready to progress to the transition stage. There will also be some Year 9 and 10s.
Phase 2 - At this phase the sttudents (now working in mixed age groups) will begin the more traditional GCSE, BTEC and new Diploma programmes of study. We still intend to teach these in a PBL fashion. By now the student should have t he necessary literacy and numeracy skills to easily access the curriculum. And hopefully gain their Level 2 qualifications, especially in English and Maths. For those students who have struggled with mainstream education we will have alternative pathways from Year 10.
Transition 2 -At this stage some students from Year 10 and some in Year 11 will begin a half year transition to Phase 3 course. This is much needed where the gap between GCSE and A Level is a shock to most students. This stage will involve taster programmes and study skills. It is hoped that by doing this we will also reduce drop out rates at this level
Phase 3 - This involves Level three qualifications.
Will it work? Will we achieve 80% 5 A - Cs including English and maths? Come back in 5 Years and find out (providing I'm still in a job and not run out of town).
11.00pm and my wife is still not back from her book group - must be a dead interesting book, or is it my turn to be suspicious?