Curriculum

Curriculum Statement

George Spencer Academy is an ethos driven school with a set of Core Values that form our common language and unite our community. The culture of the academy sees these values and our motto of ‘Ethos of Excellence’ being at the heart of all we do. This includes providing a creative and innovative curriculum. Our ‘wrap-around’ curriculum focuses on the development of the child, both academically and socially. It is centred on our ethos and has a holistic approach to ensure every child receives ambitious opportunities that not only provides them with rich learning experiences, but also ensures they gain the knowledge needed for the next stage of their education and later into adult life.

We are fully aware of the hidden curriculum and we ensure that our curriculum provides both challenge and growth alongside academic and social opportunities.

The formal curriculum allows for our students to make informed choices about their future pathways. A vast majority of our students choose to study EBacc subjects because they see the value of this in connection with their pathways. We spend a lot of time creating a culture of high aspirations as well as developing students’ life skills. For example, each year we have five Excellence Days where students spend the day learning in different ways and in various environments. This is further embedded through Personal Development sessions during Form Time Learning and weekly assemblies.

The high expectations we have of our students aren’t solely about deepening their knowledge through our curriculum, it is also about creating lifelong learners through its sequencing. We know we need adults who will make a difference in their communities and the lives of others.

Whether it is preparing students for academic success or supporting them in community work, sport or the arts we will always make sure our curriculum offer allows all our students to be excellent. To quote Aristotle “Excellence is not an act it is a habit” …. Our values-driven curriculum is embedded for all.

Personal Development and Values for Life in Modern Britain

Personal Development is a key aspect of our wrap-around curriculum for students in Years 7 to 13. The key aims are to support students to become responsible, confident, healthy, tolerant and positive young people who are prepared for life in modern Britain. Fundamental British Values are promoted and explored through Personal Development lessons and assemblies. Students are empowered to explore the importance of these values as an important part of life in modern Britain. Personal Development lessons provide opportunities for students to explore and discuss key issues linked to:

  • Democracy
  • Mutual respect
  • Acceptance and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
  • Individual liberty
  • Rule of law

These lessons play a significant role in developing well rounded young people who understand the importance of equality, diversity and an inclusive society. Through a variety of different types of sessions and activities, students are provided with opportunities to reflect and discuss global issues. Therefore, students are equipped with the necessary skills and qualities to be responsible, respectful, active citizens who contribute positively to society.

Lessons are delivered by Learning Managers as part of Form Time Learning. Our Personal Development curriculum covers important life lessons encompassed within three core themes;

  • Health and well-being; covering topics such as mental, physical and social health and well-being.
  • Relationships; fulfilling the statutory requirement to cover Sex and Relationships Education and includes topics such as consent, positive relationships and relationship values.
  • Living in the wider world; incorporating a wide range of themes including British Values, communities and media literacy and digital resilience.

Our Personal Development curriculum supports students in developing their understanding of physical, mental and social well-being. Through these important sessions we encourage students to develop resilience, determination, self-esteem and confidence. They learn about the importance of developing positive relationships and respect the differences between members of the school and wider community. Personal Development also provides students with opportunities to explore how to make informed choices linked to their physical and mental health as well as personal safety.

As an academy with high aspirations for all our students we run a prestigious award every child aspires towards throughout each academic year. The GSA Excellence Award provides every individual with the ambition to develop themselves in to the fantastic young people we know them to be. The award is a great example of how our wider curriculum supports our students’ holistic development.  The award provides a platform for students to demonstrate how they embody the core values with them being rewarded for achieving a set of criteria linked to each core value.  Each criteria provides a task or challenge which enables further enrichment and wider personal development outside of our formal curriculum.

George Spencer Academy has been accredited with the World Class School status. This is something that makes us incredibly proud as it recognises our core values as World Class qualities. To be awarded the mark, students at George Spencer Academy are recognised as committed to continually improving their performance, dedicated to life-long learning, globally aware and excellent learners.

Reading Strategy

Reading and media literacy are integral to students’ well-being and personal development at George Spencer Academy. The school’s reading strategy aims to develop confident, fluent readers who also exhibit high standards of oracy and a love of reading. This is achieved through reading being placed at the heart of the formal curriculum and through a wider culture of media literacy that permeates the day-to-day lives of the students. For example, in years 7 and 8 the curriculum provides opportunities for students to Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) each week in both English and Growth lessons and students in year 7 also have regular library lessons in English to facilitate their enthusiasm for reading and give them access to a wide choice of reading options. This includes access to the school’s burgeoning e-platform that has increased engagement with the library and widened the variety of contemporary titles available to students. In year 7, groups of students are supported in developing their reading fluency through the Reading Plus programme which further enables them to confidently access the formal curriculum and the challenging opportunities for reading provided across numerous subjects. Such opportunities include the use of set texts, plays and poetry in English, guided reading activities, contemporary articles and historical sources in Social Sciences, adapted literary texts and poetry in Languages and contextual information on musical styles and art movements in Creative Arts. These in-class opportunities are further supplemented in all year groups by wider reading options outlined by each subject in their ‘Read, Watch and Visit’ menus, and all subject areas support the school’s strategy through explicit teaching of disciplinary vocabulary and literacy skills.

Furthermore, students’ enjoyment of reading is developed through a series of experiences, events and opportunities which also enhance their understanding of the benefits of media literacy and build cultural capital. These experiences include author visits in years 7 and 8 on Excellence Days, World Book Day, the Carnegie Medal, GSA Reads, termly competitions linked to the library and all of these are supported in their promotion by the school’s growing team of ‘Media Reps’. Finally, this wider media literacy extends to developing inquisitive journalists and writers through the termly publishing of the student-written GSA Times that reports on the breaking news emerging from our academy.

The Wider Curriculum

Careers information and guidance is delivered through Form Time Learning and Excellence Days. It also permeates our formal curriculum through ‘futures focus weeks’ that take place on a termly basis. During these weeks, subjects all raise the profile of the skills and knowledge the students are gaining, to possible future careers and job opportunities within their subject specialism. It underpins our desire to equip our students with the necessary employability skills that will ensure that they leave school prepared for life in modern Britain. This means ensuring academic rigour supported by excellent teaching to develop the values, skills and behaviours that they will need to be well-rounded adults in society. All students receive a rich provision of classroom and extra-curricular activities that develop a range of character attributes and employability skills. High quality, independent careers guidance helps students emerge from school with a more fully rounded attitude that prepares them for the world of work.

Our annual school production is performed over several evenings and is well received within the community. Students have been active in terms of fundraising for both external and internal causes. Annually, all year groups select a charity they will support and raise funds for, they carry out a number of activities throughout the year which culminates in a raising and giving (RAG) week. The RAG week has seen our students rowing the length of the River Trent for PASIC, completing the ‘Race for Life’ in their PE lessons for Cancer Research and sleeping rough to raise awareness for Broxtowe Youth Homeless Society. In addition to this we have developed a strong link with the NHS Community Trust which supports various groups within the local community.  As a result, a number of students cater and perform at various community events, including the local nursing homes.

Students have been fortunate to experience a range of trips, both academic and pastoral. We have a range of residentials, both overseas and in the UK which provide the opportunity for building teamwork and friendships, helping others and experiencing unique people and places.

Excellence Days are pivotal in underpinning the ethos of our school and the core values that we believe in. They also provide a holistic link between the formal, wider and wrap-around curriculum through the exciting and engaging activities students access. Students develop thinking and metacognition strategies to make them more effective learners, develop deeper appreciation of vital personal attributes like resilience, leadership and teamwork and have access to ‘Futures’ opportunities that broaden their horizons and equip them for the next stage of their life.

We are proud of our extra-curricular offer which ranges from academic support through Strive sessions, Period 6, lunchtime and evenings. From music, drama and a wide variety of sports, to Lego, chess and Warhammer club, students have many opportunities to try new activities, thrive and develop their confidence and experiences outside the classroom. Many students also represent the school competitively in a variety of activities such as table tennis, girls and boys football, netball, debating and maths challenges.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme offers all Bronze, Silver and Gold awards. We always encourage our students to embrace life and the opportunities available to them. We are proud of and acknowledge the many activities that they participate in outside of school whether it be Army Cadets, dancing, sports, volunteering or any other activity.

Our most able students are challenged and supported through the wider curriculum. The externally run Brilliant Club provides university-style teaching and assessment for selected students in Years 8, 10 and 12. Our Excellence Programme supports students from Years 10 to 13 in achieving their aspirations through opportunities at Oxbridge and Russell Group universities. Our Excellence Programme students in Year 10 are given the opportunity to study the Higher Project Qualification (HPQ) alongside their other studies.

The Formal Curriculum

Our school day has been created in order to deepen learning in several ways. Firstly, there is a strong focus on the use of form time to develop students’ understanding of career progression, spiritual, moral, social and cultural development (SMSC) and British Values. Secondly, the innovative use of different timings on Wednesdays allows time for quality CPD, contributing to the excellent cohesion and subject knowledge of our Faculty teams. Thirdly, the allocation of time to each subject area is reviewed annually to ensure that breadth is protected, while still giving sufficient space for students to develop their skills and knowledge in the core subjects.

We keep breadth by mapping each subject’s skills and content against the National Curriculum, while guarding against narrowing by ensuring that students study the full range of KS3 subjects, right up until the end of Year 9. We also work hard to maintain and develop our range of courses and offer Childcare, Travel and Tourism, Health and Social Care, Creative Media, ICT, Construction and Criminology as vocational alternatives at level 2 and/or level 3.

Our curriculum gives students the best possible life chances because it is tailored to the strengths of individuals. Students receive support for literacy in order to help them access the full curriculum. Direction for progression at post-16 level is also a strength, with over half of university-bound students gaining places at Russell Group institutions in 2020 and 2021 while 90.5% of students gained a place at their first-choice university in 2021.

For more details about each individual year group and the curriculum maps for subject areas, please click on the links below…

Students study the following subjects;

English, Maths, Science, Art, Drama, Music, Computing, History, Geography, Modern Foreign Languages (French and Spanish), Philosophy, PE, Design Technology (DT) and Growth.

All subjects are taught in form groups or in similar mixed ability groups.

Students study the following subjects;

English, Maths, Science, Art, Drama, Music, Computing, History, Geography, Modern Foreign Languages (French or Spanish), Philosophy, PE and Design Technology (DT).

Subjects are taught in a combination of ability-based sets and mixed ability groups.

Students study the following subjects;

English, Maths, Science, Art, Drama, Music, Computing, History, Geography, Modern Foreign Languages (French or Spanish), Philosophy, PE and Design Technology (DT).

Subjects are taught in a combination of ability-based sets and mixed ability groups.

Our highly effective Guided Pathways process begins in Year 9. Students are guided into the most appropriate route to ensure the greatest chance of success pre- and post-16. All students have a careers interview and a ‘Pathways Post-16′ interview to ensure appropriate course and career choices.

 Core subjects

All students study these courses

Option subjects (3 x 2.5 hours per week)
EBacc GCSE subjects Other GCSE subjects Vocational subjects
English (5 hours per week) French Art Media Studies Children’s Play & Development
Maths (5 hours per week) Spanish Business Studies Music Construction
Separate Science (6 hours per week)* Geography Design Technology Philosophy & Ethics Health & Social Care
PE (1 hour per week) History Drama Photography ICT / Creative Media
* Some students will study Combined Science in 5 hours per week and have extra support in English or Maths. Food & Nutrition Physical Education Travel & Tourism
Psychology Computing Construction

Students are beginning their GCSE and vocational courses in Year 10 and complete their GCSEs/equivalent by the end of Year 11. All students study English, English Literature, Maths, Science (either separate or combined) and have one hour of core PE per week. The rest of their timetable is filled with their three option subjects. All classes in maths are set by ability, with partial setting for English and science groups to support and to challenge students further with the content. All other courses are taught in mixed ability groups.

Students are required to select 3 A-Level linear or equivalent courses; they may also choose to study Core Mathematics, which is a one-year course. We offer some students the opportunity to study 4 A Levels following a discussion with the Director of Post-16. All students sit external examinations at the end of Year 13, with continual assessments throughout Year 12 and 13. All students complete an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) unless they are already studying 4 subjects. Students can also take part in the ‘Brilliant Club’ where they are tutored by a PhD student and produce a university style report or our Excellence Programme where they have the opportunity to work with Oxford University.

All high performing students seem to possess a series of attitudes, behaviours and thought processes that set them apart from their peers and these skills are embedded into the Sixth Form offer. All students are taught the VESPA programme, which is a way of thinking about the essential ingredients required to be even more effective at learning. The five elements are Vision, Effort, Systems, Practice and Attitude.

Our enrichment programme provides students with the opportunities to develop leadership skills in a number of ways: Sixth Form Council, Community Ambassadors, Sports Leaders and World Class Ambassadors.  All students take part in the annual RAG week raising money for a chosen charity and support local food banks throughout the year.