The shorter days that come with November signify for me the speed with which each year passes. Already we have completed the first half term of this academic year and now well into the second half term and there is still so much to do to ensure that everything related to the impending curriculum and policy changes are digested and disseminated to staff, of the implications, their impact on planning and how they will support learning and achievement at Harrow Way.
We will update middle leaders at our next meeting but I wanted to take the opportunity to give you my reflections. Mark and I have already started these discussions regarding the Harrow Way Curriculum. We need to remember that Ofsted described our curriculum as ‘exceptional’. Hence the challenge with our curriculum is to marry our values with those of the political trajectory; to navigate that path for the benefit of our students.
Here is a flavour of some of the changes
A much greater emphasis on building on previous learning which will require greater collaboration with primary partners who now have the responsibility to ensure at least 85% of pupils are ‘secondary ready’ by the time they leave year 6
The spotlight on destination of learners as they leave secondary school to ensure that all learners can see clear progression to further or higher study or training and work
There is a much greater emphasis on learning grammar explicitly in primary schools which secondary subject teachers will inherit and have to build on. Data will be available from results of a new spelling, grammar and punctuation test that pupils will take at the end of year 6
Most of what is currently covered by the end of year 6 in the Maths curriculum will be covered by the end of year 4 which will have a profound impact on planning the Maths curriculum in key stage 3 to build on previous learning in year 5 and 6
The curriculum for computing will start with pupils learning coding at age 5 and all pupils will have to learn two programme languages from the age of 11
New grading system for GCSE from 1-9 with 9 being the highest grade. Accountability measures will mean that performance tables will rely on the results from 8 subjects and will measure pupil progress and not as previously an arbitrary threshold from D to C. See attached summary – emailed to staff at the end of October. We will be going through this in detail at the next middle leaders meeting. Accountability MJS
Tiering will only be used in subjects where untiered papers will not allow students at the lower end of the ability range to demonstrate their knowledge and skills, or will not stretch the most able. The tiering model used will be decided on a subject by subject basis.
All new GCSEs will be fully linear with assessment at the end of the course and content not divided into modules.
Exams will be the default method of assessment, except when they can’t provide valid assessment of the skills required. Again, this will be decided on a subject by subject basis.
Exams will only be available in the summer, apart from a November series for English Language and Maths. This series is for students who were at least 16 on the preceding 31 August.
English Language, English Literature and Maths GCSEs will be reformed first, ready for first teaching in 2015.
Deeper and much more robust GCSE and A Level content especially in English Maths and Science with a greater emphasis on facts and structure
OFSTED want to see that there is breadth and depth and want to see schools delivering the curriculum alongside wider learning to develop the ‘whole child’ with elements such as problem solving, public speaking, debating and negotiating skills
Pupils will start to learn a foreign language from age 7
There is a leak from the DFE that suggests that the aim is that 90% of students will have the English Baccalaureate Certificate (but by 18), so our current Year 9 students will have to compete in a world where the vast majority of students have these qualifications. The EBACC proposals are controversial but we understand that our curriculum needs to be developed in the arena of this political direction.
Don’t forget to forward this information to colleagues in your department.