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. For example, students are not forced to follow the EBacc, however 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 6 Excellence Days where students spend the day learning in different ways and in various environments. This is further embedded through weekly enrichment 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.

Mrs H. Corbett (Principal)

Personal Development and Values for Life in Modern Britain

Personal development (PD) is a key aspect of our wrap-around and wider curriculum for students in Years 7 to 13. The key aims are to support pupils to become responsible, confident, healthy, tolerant and positive citizens who are prepared for life in modern Britain. Fundamental British Values are promoted and explored through Form Time Learning. Students are empowered to explore the importance of these values as an important part of life in modern Britain. Form Time Learning sessions provide opportunities for students to discuss and debate key issues and current affairs 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 once a week as part of Form Time Learning. Personal Development 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.

Form Time Learning 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. Form Time Learning also provides students with opportunities to explore how to make informed choices linked to their physical and mental health as well as personal safety.

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.

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.

The Friends of George Spencer (FrOGS) are an active body of parents and supporters of the school who run a range of activities throughout the year which benefit both our students and our local community. We provide many opportunities for our students to excel, for example running Christmas concerts in our local church, visiting local residential homes, cafes, supermarkets and perform musical ensembles to entertain members of the community. Our annual school production is performed over three evenings and is well received within the community. Students have been active in terms of fundraising for both external and internal causes. Sixth Form have run a RAG week which involved a range of events from penalty shootouts to fancy dress with monies raised going to charities. We have run a series of non-uniform days to support the Artisan market, Children in Need and there will be a further day next Friday to support the Sports Day at Harvey Hadden. Students going on trips have raised money to support the trips through their own fundraising initiatives such as cake stalls, school disco, sport challenges, car washing and raffles.

Students have been fortunate to experience a range of trips, both academic and pastoral. We have a range of residentials, both oversees 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 provide students with opportunities outside of the formal curriculum to develop resilience, character, leadership, initiative and many other skills that will prepare them for life after education. There are 6 Excellence Days during an academic year where the timetable is collapsed and students take part in exciting and engaging activities to support their personal development as well as embed further and provide a holistic link with aspects of our formal curriculum.

We are proud of our extra-curricular offer which ranges from academic support through Period 6, lunchtime and evenings. From music, drama and wide variety of sport, 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 sports such as table tennis, girls and boys football and netball.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme offers both the Bronze and Silver awards. As a school, 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, volunteering or any other activity.

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 careers 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, Hospitality and Catering, Creative Media, ICT, 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 timetabled support for literacy and numeracy 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 2019, while 84% of students gained a place at their first-choice university in 2020.

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 and Design Technology (DT). Within DT, students study five separate technologies (Graphics, Resistant Materials, Food Technology, Textiles Technology and Systems & Control).

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). Within DT, students study five separate technologies (Graphics, Resistant Materials, Food Technology, Textiles Technology and Systems & Control).

Science and MFL are taught in ability-based sets; all other subjects are taught in form groups or in similar 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/Film Studies Children’s Play & Development
Maths (5 hours per week) Spanish Business Studies Music Hospitality and Catering
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. Computing Food & Nutrition Physical Education Travel & Tourism
Psychology

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 1 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 or the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), which are both one-year courses. 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 are offered the opportunity to complete an EPQ and students can also take part in the ‘Brilliant Club’ where they are tutored by a PhD student and produce a university style report.

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 ingredientsrequired 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, subject ambassadors, reading/maths leaders as well as in class subject support. All students take part in the annual RAG week raising money for a chosen charity and support local food banks throughout the year.