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Curriculum Overview

As an Academy, we have far more freedom than many schools to provide a varied, innovative and stimulating curriculum that offers all students the chance to develop according to their talents, interests and ambitions.

Key Stage 3*
For more information contact our Assistant Principal (KS3) Mr David Jenks – david.jenks@oatforge.co.uk

Every student at Forge does not begin their secondary school journey in September of year 7, but in the transition programme we provide during year 6. All students spend at least 6 days (over a three-week period) during June and July meeting their new classmates, new staff and experiencing what life will be like at Forge.

Our Key Stage 3 curriculum focuses on embedding the skills and content needed for GCSE. Our two-year programme offers a wide range of subjects including art, music, geography, history, technology, religious studies, languages and ICT, but at its foundation has the core subjects of English, maths and science.

Most students have four hours of English and maths a week, with literacy and numeracy skills embedded to help students make maximum progress in all of their subjects. Students whose literacy and/or numeracy skills are significantly below those expected for their age may receive additional timetable hours to develop these skills as part of our “Flying Start” programme. Some students may be taught in a smaller nurture group to accelerate their skills, or cater for any additional needs.

All students are set challenging individual expectations in all their subjects based on their different starting points. This may be as a result of their Key Stage 2 SATs results, or through a series of baseline tests during the first few days in year 7. During the year, regular formative and summative assessment takes place, and the academic and pastoral staff work together to ensure that any students at risk of underachievement are supported.

Students who are identified as needing more specialised support are taught within the Success Centre where they follow a balanced curriculum alongside individualised mentoring and support. Our dedicated team of City Year volunteers also provide valuable in-class support for identified students.

During year 8, subject pathways are also chosen in preparation for GCSE studies in years 9-11. As a result, taster sessions of subjects such as Business Studies, Health & Social Care and Classics. are offered. Alongside parents/carers, all students will have the chance to speak to a member of the Senior Leadership team about the important choices that will guide their future.

All students have the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities designed to focus on self-development and caring for others – these range from working with the business world and mentoring programmes, careers trips and guidance to partnership work with charities and the local community. The Forge Year 7 Quest award aims to build well-rounded students by focusing on building their leadership and independence skills whilst rewarding their effort and commitment in the classroom.

Key Stage 4
For more information contact our Assistant Principal (KS4) Miss Rebecca Simkins – rebecca.simkins@oatforge.co.uk

All students study the core subjects of mathematics and English for 4 periods per week in years 9, 10 and 11. Science is delivered for 5 or 6 lessons per week which allows access to all three science areas. Statutory RS is part of the KS4 delivery. RS is taught working towards a full course GCSE to recognise the importance the academy gives to developing the broader moral understanding of the young people in our care.

All students are entered for English Literature. In mathematics, students are set from year 9 onwards. The majority of students follow the higher tier syllabus with a small proportion doing foundation tier. All students sit the GCSE mathematics exam at the end of year 11.

Students in Science can follow a number of pathways that meet their ability and future aspirations. The pathways allow them to study either core and additional science or separate sciences. Core science is delivered in year 10 and additional science is delivered in year 11. Core and additional science have 5 lessons per week. The separate sciences are biology, chemistry and physics. These are taught for 6 lessons per week (2 per single science). There is also a BTEC group that is following through into year 11, BTEC is not offered from year 10 onwards (September 2014).

All students study a technology subject. Students have a choice of technology subjects which are: resistant materials, catering, graphics and textiles.

Students can opt for 3 subjects at KS4 which are taught for 2 hours in years 9, 10 and 11. Students choose from a humanities option (history or geography) and up to 2 further options if they do not continue with a language subject (either French, German or Spanish). If students continue with a language, they choose one additional option.

Students follow an individual programme of study. The emphasis is on encouraging students to choose their own combinations of subjects that they enjoy; are good at and provide an insight into any potential future career. All option subjects are taught in mixed ability groupings. Students are supported through the options process with a comprehensive IAG programme involving tutors, one to one conversations and an extensive offer of information sessions/meetings and events.

A full complement of optional GCSE subjects is supplemented with BTEC/Vocational options in sport, hair and beauty, construction and health & social care.
All students have 1 lesson of statutory physical education per week in years 9, 10 and 11.

Key Stage 5
For more information contact our Assistant Principal (KS5) Darren Grimes – darren.grimes@oatforge.co.uk

Students can study a range of courses over two years. There are over 30 different A level and BTEC courses to choose from. Students can choose courses dependent on their aspirations, career and university options or merely just the subjects they enjoy or are good at.

Students are expected to choose 4 separate courses amounting to 20 hours of timetabled study per week. This is normally 4 A levels or an equivalent through a combination of A levels and BTECs. This can also be supplemented by enrichment courses such as financial capability and extended project both of which provide UCAS points preparation for university. Furthermore, there are a range of optional enrichment opportunities such as first aid courses, reading support or activities designed to develop student’s leadership skills and prepare them for life after sixth form.

When not in lesson students have the option of working within the dedicated sixth form centre in either the common room or the study room and experience qualified support through expert teaching in small classes.

 

*A note on Key Stage 3 levels (from the Forge Assessment Policy)
The academy has decided to retain the use of levels at Key Stage 3 (eg 5a, 5b, 5c etc). This is for a number of reasons:
1. There is no obligation for schools to move away from using levels

2. There are already major changes taking place at both KS5 (with the introduction of new A levels) and at KS4 (with the introduction of new GCSEs and a new 9-1 grading system). KS3 is, therefore, the only remaining point of consistency for staff and parents.

3. Rather than adapting the assessment system, the priority for the academy at KS3 needs to be adapting the curriculum in light of changes at KS2 and KS4. This can take place by adapting the level descriptors; it does not necessitate the whole-scale removal of levels.

4. Current Y6 will be arriving in 2015 with levels and there remain uncertainties about the new ‘levelling’ at KS2: new descriptors being produced for September 2015 and a recently-appointed National commission is underway to look at this issue.

5. Until all the new syllabuses are produced for KS4 (some of which are for first teaching in 2017), there remains a lack of clarity about what skills students will need for the new GCSEs (thus making a whole scale re-write of skills to be assessed at KS3 premature).

6. There is still a lack of clarity about how the new 9-1 grading will be applied (some subjects will not see actual exemplification until summer 2019). Any move to an ‘all-through’ system would, therefore, not be meaningful for a number of subjects at this stage.

 

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Ormiston Forge Academy, Wrights Lane, Cradley Heath, West Midlands, B64 6QU. Tel: 01384 566 598.