Our vision, through a balanced curriculum and our C.A.R.E ethos of celebrate together, achievement for all, respecting each other and expectations to succeed, is to develop the talents of all of our students. We will ensure they will enter an ever-changing world with the knowledge, skills and attributes to excel.
At Oldbury Academy leaders intend for students to learn and develop the knowledge and skills in their subjects, taking into account the National Curriculum. We adapt elements of our programmes of study to take account of our local context. We believe our curriculum will make a difference to who our students are, and who they will become. Leaders intend for our curriculum to give students the ability, in terms of knowledge and skills, high quality examination results, and enriched experiences, to make a positive contribution to society.
Oldbury Academy intend for students to develop their character skills during their time with us. Parents, teachers and governors have a shared commitment to the skills we want to see develop in our students: leadership, organisation, resilience, initiative and communication. We ensure there are multiple opportunities for students to develop these skills over their time at school with us.
We have taken time to consider what we wanted our curriculum to look like, and what we wanted it to achieve for our students. As part of our Curriculum Review that was undertaken during the Summer of 2019, senior leaders asked subject leaders to consider how their own subject areas aligned with our vision and curriculum intent. Subject leaders and teachers questioned how learning experiences were sequenced together over time to enable students to progress from one concept to another, and are redesigning their curriculum where it was felt that particular learning episodes were no longer relevant or not sequenced appropriately. It was also important for us that learning and skill development that took place in Key Stage 3 (years 7-9) was designed to ensure that our students know more and be able to demonstrate an increasing number of skills so they are ready to study examined courses in Key Stage 4. (years 10-11). Each subject area has a curriculum document which identifies the knowledge and skills covered.
Students engage with a broad, balanced, and sequenced curriculum in Key Stage 3. Students are banded on entry to the school, based on a range of factors including their progress levels from primary schools. Each band has similar provision and time have been taken time to adapt our curriculum for the differing needs of our students. For example, some students receive additional literacy lessons or specific and tailored intervention. The impact of this is evaluated each year and the curriculum is adapted as a result.
In Key Stage 3, all students will study – English, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, Religious Education, German, Dance, Drama, Music, Art, Computing, PE and Technology. (Some students may be offered additional literacy support where appropriate, in place of one or more of the above subjects.) Please take the opportunity to view our curriculum overviews by clicking here.
As students move into year 9, they will begin to consider their subject choices that form part of their Pathway when moving into Key Stage 4. At Oldbury, we recognised that a free-choice ‘Option-based’ process was ineffective and led to a poor curriculum for students, which in turn, had for some students, led to poor outcomes. To correct this, and bring this transition into line with our curriculum vision, we introduced our Pathways model. This places students on a particular pathway based on their ability and needs. The pathways guide students towards particular subjects whilst retaining an element of choice for our young people. As with all curriculum decisions, we are continuing to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of our Pathways model from year to year. You can read more about Pathways, by clicking here.
As students complete their subject choices through our Pathways model, they will then move into year 10 where they will begin their study for examined subjects. All subject courses have been researched at length by our subject leaders and following our Curriculum Review, leaders and teachers have considered how these subjects align with our curriculum vision. We offer a wide range of subjects, both GCSE and vocational, and recognise that different types of qualifications are important to offer our students. Yearly, subject leaders review and evaluate the impact of their courses and make amendments where necessary. It is recognised that some courses will suit some students and this may differ from year to year. This approach has led to more students choosing to study triple science, History, Geography and German. There is no one size fits all approach and through discussions with students, parents and carers there are opportunities for students to study outside of the pathway what is originally identified. This allows students with a particular passion for an individual subject to follow this subject and study it at KS4. As part of our commitment to our most vulnerable students, we also offer qualifications that are not recognised by national performance measures. This is important to us as we feel these types of qualifications can help these students prepare for the next steps in their lives, and value this as part of our curriculum vision.
In Key Stage 4, all students will study – English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, and Science. They will also take part in a core PE lesson each week. In addition to this, students will take four additional subjects. We are passionate about offering students this many additional subjects. Students will select either GCSE or BTEC courses. Please take the opportunity to view our curriculum overviews by clicking here.
The assessment of students at Oldbury Academy has two core purposes. Assessment should:
- Identify how much progress a student is making in a certain subject, and how well they are doing and the knowledge and skills they have acquired.
- Identify what steps should be taken to improve the progress of a student in a certain subject.
At Oldbury Academy, our curriculum has several points at which knowledge and/or skills are assessed. These ‘end-points’ are planning into learning episodes at appropriate points. We recognise the value of well-planned assessments but are cautious about overloading students with continual testing. There are three formal assessment points during the academic year, and the results of these assessments are communicated with parents. Teachers ensure that any gaps which these assessments identify, in either students’ knowledge or skills are addressed and corrected afterwards to enable students to move forward to the next stage in their learning. This type of assessment is called Summative Assessment.
Our curriculum also recognises the value of Formative Assessment, which is more informal and regular types of assessment. An example of this might be question and answer sessions within lessons, or low-stakes quizzing. These types of activities are useful in making decisions about how well a student is understanding a topic and may give the teacher an opportunity to reteach knowledge or skills where necessary. These activities also support students’ ability to recall information quickly, and this is embedded with our Teaching and Learning expectations through ‘Do Now’ tasks, for example. The results of this type of assessment are not communicated with parents formally although no doubt will form part of any conversation between teachers and parents about the performance of students.
Our Key Stage Four students follow the new ‘reformed GCSEs’. The key features of the reformed GCSEs are that they….
- Will be more demanding and contain more challenging content
- Will be ‘linear’, so students will take all of their exams at the end of the course
- Will be assessed much more through exams than coursework
- Will have a new grading scale from 9 to 1, instead of A* to G
Although the old and new grades do not convert perfectly with each other, the table below will give you a rough indication of the value of the new 9 – 1 grades:
Under the old A* – G grading system, a grade C or above was considered to be a ‘good pass’. Under the new 9 – 1 grading system, a grade 5 or above will be considered to be a ‘good pass’.
Further information about how we use assessment at Oldbury Academy can be found in our Assessment Policy. This can be accessed by clicking here.
National research has indicated that well planned, timely, and challenging homework can add significant value to students, both in terms of their own academic development, and their ability to work independently. All subjects will set homework for students, although the rate at which this is set will differ from subject to subject. All homework is set via Show My Homework, which is an online facility that we use. All parents and students can access this. Further details about the regularity that homework is set, as well as all details about Show My Homework can be found by clicking here.
Our curriculum also provides multiple opportunities for our students to develop of their character. Whilst we value academic excellence, academic success alone is not enough for our curriculum vision to be realised. When undertaking our Curriculum Review, we asked staff, students and parents what they thought the key skills were that needed development throughout our curriculum. We agreed that the following skills were those we felt most important.
- Leadership: How well do students lead others?
- Organisation: Are our students well organised and well prepared to be the best they can be?
- Resilience: How well do our students respond to challenge and difficult situations?
- Initiative: Are our students proactive in finding solutions to potential problems?
- Communication: Do our students communicate well to others, and are they good listeners?
We are committed to providing multiple opportunities for students to develop, practice and ultimately master these skills. These opportunities are provided in the classroom through normal teaching, and outside of the classroom through a range of assemblies, trips, outside speakers and several other experiences.
Our Curriculum Vision recognises the value of activities that take place outside of the traditional classroom. These activities are planned over the academic year, usually before or after school, or during lunch times. We believe that these activities help students express themselves in ways they might not normally do so in the classroom environment. At Oldbury, we value the importance of school trips, visits, the use of outside speakers, and collapsed timetable days where appropriate. All of these contribute to our extra-curricular offer. Further details of the extra-curricular opportunities available to students can be found by clicking here.
As part of our intent we want our curriculum to:
Be aspirational at all levels…
We believe that aspirational students make better learners. We want our students to aspire to be the very best they can be. As such, we ensure our curriculum is challenging at all levels, and pushes students to maximise their potential.
Address social disadvantage…
We believe that students should not be disadvantaged in their school experience regardless of their background. We engage with national research to put strategies in place to address this and close the gap between students who are disadvantaged and their peer group.
Have literacy embedded at every opportunity…
We believe literacy is an absolute fundamental life skill and one that will unlock doors for our students. Every opportunity is taken to develop students literacy skills. We want our students to be better readers, writers, and orators.
Prepare students for life in a modern West Midlands and beyond…
We believe our curriculum must be relevant to the future economy our young people will be part of. All of our subjects will help students develop the skills they will need in their working lives.