Curriculum Overview 2021-22
The curriculum of Harris Girls’ Academy East Dulwich is designed to challenge and inspire all learners whilst preparing them effectively for the future.
This is with a view to ending the cycle of poverty and disadvantage, enriching both the current and future lives of our pupils, and also their communities.
Our aim is to develop and deliver a broad, balanced and enriched curriculum that coherently builds on prior knowledge, ensures the development of high quality spoken and written communication and numerical fluency and ensures all pupils become successful learners who are equipped with powerful knowledge, and who are confident individuals and responsible citizens.
Curriculum design – Our key principles
- is broad and balanced, affording access to a wide range of subjects, robustly preparing pupils for the next stage in their education or training and to be active citizens both in Britain and globally; it powerfully addresses social disadvantage
- promotes high levels of academic achievement and sophisticated levels of subject domain specific knowledge
- equips pupils with the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life. This is ‘the essential knowledge that pupils need to be educated citizens, introducing them to the best that has been thought and said.
- helps secure excellent standards of behaviour for learning
- has an acute focus on the necessary priorities of ensuring that all our pupils make excellent progress in reading, writing and mathematics
- develops pupils’ spoken language, reading, writing and vocabulary as integral aspects of the teaching of every subject
- engenders an appreciation of human creativity and achievement
- links logically to the school’s system of assessment in a way that supports teaching broader and more in-depth content across a subject area, as opposed to narrowed and shallow test content
- is evaluated on an annual basis to ensure that it reflects the needs of our changing cohorts and provides a meaningful and engaging experience for our learners in line with statutory guidance
- includes frequent opportunities for the effective personal development of pupils including extra-curricular, sporting and volunteering opportunities which develop courage, character and conscience as well as leadership competencies
- actively promotes the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
- offers all pupils access to a broad curriculum provision irrespective of race, disability, sex, religion or belief, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, and gender reassignment (in-line with statutory guidance)
- is clearly defined in schemes of learning by each subject area available as medium and long term plans that are continually evaluated and updated to ensure rigour is maintained. The subject curricula are appropriately sequenced and designed to allow pupils to transfer knowledge to long term memory, towards clearly defined end points.
Curriculum priorities for 2021-22
- Continue to teach an ambitious and broad curriculum in all subjects from the start of the autumn term, making use of existing flexibilities to create time to cover the most important missed content and a focus on prioritisation within subjects of the most important components for progression of students. This curriculum delivered to students in the academy and the same quality available to those outside the academy (e.g. those self-isolating) via Microsoft Teams.
- The curriculum is planned to address gaps in students’ knowledge and consolidates what they have been learning remotely. Heads of department will make curriculum decisions for their subjects in-light of the loss of face-to-face teaching contact over the last academic year.
- The curriculum is planned based on the educational needs of pupils in our own context. Curriculum planning is informed by an assessment of pupils’ starting points and addressing the gaps in their knowledge and skills, in particular making effective use of regular formative assessment (for example, quizzes, observing pupils in class, talking to pupils to assess understanding, scrutiny of pupils’ work done safely) while avoiding the introduction of unnecessary tracking systems.
Our plan for ‘recovery’ in relation to the curriculum is informed the Principles of Future Learning by Tim Oates (Cambridge Assessment).
- Early literacy and numeracy are vital foundations for broad and balanced learning.
- Curriculum coherence – the alignment of curriculum content and standards, teaching practices, learning resources and assessment – remains fundamental to high equity and high attainment.
- Curriculum and its assessment and all other requirements, should be a manageable load for teachers and schools.
- Effective learning should be built on variety, using a well-managed mix of approaches and modes.
- Excellence in teaching and elevated attainment can be supported by well-designed and carefully chosen technology that can support teaching and attainment
- Well trained and well supported teachers are central to high quality pedagogy, high attainment and the well-being of learners.
- Evidence should inform teacher practice on effectiveness, and good practice and insights from cognitive science should inform schools’ actions and teachers’ practices.
- Access to high quality teaching and learning materials is essential for high quality, manageable schooling.
- Dependable assessment is vital for social justice, learning support and equitable progression.
- Clear standards are important for equity and progression for all.
- Equity and high attainment.
Principles from cognitive science
What we want from our curriculum is students to gain rich, powerful and well-organised knowledge that they can use to think with and to understand the world and themselves.
Cognitive science gives us the model of knowledge as schemas: webs of interconnected pieces of knowledge. When students join us in Year 7, they have limited schemas in our subjects (few pieces of knowledge, few connections, and possibly misconceptions).
We want them to leave us with dense, well-linked and well-organised schemas. In other words, we want them to have learnt lots of high-quality knowledge in each subject. The below principles from cognitive science are features of our curriculum design and implementation to allow the development of such schemas:
Spaced practice - distributing learning and retrieval opportunities over a longer period of time leads to better retention of knowledge.
Interleaving - switching between different types of problem or different ideas within the same study session leads to better retention compared to block practice. A common misconception is that interleaving is a practice of splitting up topics and mixing them up: this is not what is meant by interleaving.
Retrieval practice - recalling information from memory can promote long term learning.
Dual coding - introducing concepts using both verbal (i.e. words) and non-verbal information (i.e. pictures) is thought to increase the chance of remembering that concept, compared to if the stimulus was only coded one way (i.e. words or images).
Cognitive load - attention and working memory are essential to learning but are ‘limited capacity’ resources which can be over-loaded. Cognitive load theory focuses teachers on the efficiency of their explanation and presentation of new knowledge by ‘chunking’ learning episodes.
Concrete examples - using specific examples to understand abstract ideas.