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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 Vice Principal (KS3) Maria Mincher – maria.mincher@oatforge.co.uk)

Our provision follows a flexible programme at KS3 that delivers the National Curriculum or GCSE (transition) across the subject areas. There is a flexible approach with some subjects following a three year KS3 curriculum, sometimes with a transition year, preparing for KS4; and others following a two year KS3 starting GCSE in Year 9.

Students follow the core subjects in Mathematics and English for 4 hours a week and Science for three hours a week.

Students are taught in mixed ability groups for most of Year 7 in all subjects, where differentiated lessons ensure that the needs of all students are met and the cross-fertilisation of ideas facilitates the learning of a broad range of abilities. A cohort of more able students is identified from KS2 data and these students are involved in extension and accelerated learning skills every three weeks called Challenge Club.

Students are set in some subjects by the end of Year 7 after rigorous formative assessment, to allow all students to achieve their potential. Movement between sets is then informed by grade runs (data collection) which happen three times a year.

Students whose literacy and/or numeracy skills are significantly below those expected for their age are taught in a smaller nurture group to accelerate both literacy and numeracy skills.

Students who are identified as needing specialised support are taught within the Success Centre where they follow a balanced curriculum alongside individualised mentoring and support on the Me2 programme.

In Years 7 and 8 Physical Education, History, Geography, Religious Studies (RS), Technology, Modern Foreign Languages, Information Communication Technology, Art and Music are taught in a rotation as discrete subjects to give students a skills set which will allow transition into KS4 and allow informed choices during options.

Students make a first selection of KS4 subjects during Year 8 so the curriculum in Year 9 also includes Art Textiles, Business Studies GCSE, Business Communications, Catering, Graphics, Resistant Materials, Systems and Textiles. Students have a chance to reopt in Year 9 if they have found their first choices unsuitable.

Classics is taught as a taster subject during Year 8 to allow students to sample the curriculum content before options.

In Years 7 and 8 students follow a skills programme for three periods a week. This programme allows for the development of cognitive and social skills. In Year 9 they follow 1 hour of P4C (Philosophy for Children) which develops their thinking skills.

Personal Social Health Citizenship Education (PSHCE) is delivered across the curriculum where it is mapped across most subjects, with each department taking the responsibility for the delivery of different aspects.

During P6 on Mondays there is a programme of enrichment and development for all students in KS3 where the more able cohort have memory and thinking skills developed in lesson every third week.

All students take part in a variety of activities designed to raise aspirations and self-awareness – these range from working with the business world, through to guild time whereby students run clubs and gain skills that will give them social collateral and develop a balanced view of the world.

Key Stage 4
(For more information contact our Vice Principal (KS4) Lisa Mason – lisa.mason@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, but BTEC is not offered from year 10 onwards from 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 are supplemented with BTEC/Vocational options in Sport, Hair and Beauty, Construction and Health and 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 Vice Principal (KS5) Craig Cooling – craig.cooling@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 courses such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award, reading support or sport to enhance student’s experiences and prepare them better 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.