Our Approach to the Curriculum
Students at The Thomas Aveling School follow a very broad and balanced curriculum. The Arts, Sport and Personal Development are valued highly. Our intention is to ensure pupils make outstanding progress and that the curriculum removes any potential barriers to learning. We want students to be able to follow their own interests and use their talents to the full and have designed a curriculum to enable this to happen. We are ambitious for our students and ensure they have the knowledge and skills that will make them successful, not only in school, but in life. In addition to the wide range of taught subjects, students in Y7 and 8 take part in a parallel curriculum called PiXL Edge. This is a scheme that looks to develop strong character traits including Leadership, Organisation, Resilience, Initiative and Communication.
Our curriculum helps pupils to achieve high standards and make excellent progress. At KS3, the curriculum is broad and pupils learn essential knowledge to ensure they have a deep understanding across a range of subjects. There are many opportunities built into lessons to secure the need to recall and retrieve previous learning so that knowledge is fully embedded. Many pupils have a clear idea of subjects they like the most and the least by the middle of Year 8 and offering some choice at this stage engages students as partners in their learning and leads to improved outcomes. We therefore ask students to spend more time on 4 chosen areas of interest in Year 9. These courses aim to develop a mastery of the skills required to complete a subject in Key Stage 4. At KS4, the courses are carefully planned to ensure that content is thoroughly revisited and this undoubtedly prepares pupils for external examinations at the end of the course. In almost all subjects, students make more than expected progress from their KS2 starting points (Progress 8)
We have an extended Key Stage 4 to allow students to choose subjects they have a greater interest in, but by our restriction of “allowed combinations” students will usually study at least 1 EBACC option, a creative subject and a practical subject in our wide option offer. Each year approximately half of the year study Geography, a similar proportion will study History and a smaller, but still significant, group will study one of the 3 languages we offer with excellent results. The proportion taking the full suite of EBACC subjects has steadily increased. We also offer an alternative curriculum that meets the needs of those children who need a little extra support in their studies while allowing them to still follow a curriculum offering that has high aspirations of them. All students are able to choose from the full array of academic and vocational subjects.
The Key Stage 4 curriculum has a variety of academic and vocational qualifications for students to choose from to allow them to develop a wide range of skills necessary to be successful in a rapidly changing world. Students are able to swap their subjects at the start of Year 9 within each option block to ensure they are happy to complete the examined courses in Y10 and 11. Many students combine one vocational subject with their academic choices. Students will usually complete their compulsory education by gaining 9 qualifications (GCSEs and Vocational).
It is our intention to ensure pupils have secure foundations for progression into further education and apprenticeships. From Year 7, pupils receive careers information with a clear focus on the Gatsby benchmarks and this is supported through 2 TEDs (themed education days). Over the course of 5 years, pupils receive a rigorous and bespoke aspirations program that exposes our pupils to a huge range of voices and experiences.
Development of language and building knowledge are integral to curriculum planning. Subject Leaders, who are experts in their subjects, carefully construct a curriculum that promotes a deep understanding of a wide range of topics. Teachers plan learning that allows pupils to embed and recall knowledge through techniques such as interleaving of topics and spaced practice. This builds firm foundations for progression to the next level and exam success.
The curriculum delivered in each subject is reviewed annually by subject leaders to ensure the sequence of delivery allows pupils to build on their knowledge and that pupils are sufficiently stretched and challenged.
We are very pleased with our wide offer of vocational and academic qualifications in the 6th form – all at level 3. Over half of each cohort of Year 11s stay with us to complete further study before applying for university or higher level apprenticeships and professions. Those unable to stay with us, or who already know the career they want, are supported in their applications to local colleges and apprenticeships.
Nearly all students leave us to engage in further education, apprenticeships or training, very few are NEET at the point of leaving us.
In addition to the examined curriculum, we also offer many opportunities for children to engage in extra-curricular activities throughout the year. These include Bronze, Silver and (first time in 2019) Gold Duke of Edinburgh Awards, sports teams, arts clubs, various musical opportunities, coding clubs and various trips far and near to generate an understanding of their position in the world and a further enjoyment of learning.
The curriculum is evaluated regularly to ensure it provides the best experiences for our students at every level, Horizon is an initiative we introduced to ensure vulnerable students were given additional opportunities to develop their socialisation skills, others take part in the Brilliant Club - working with PhD students on degree style research and essays - and others take part in Language and Literacy classes to accelerate their grasp of key literacy skills.