Alcester Academy is an 11-16 secondary school that provides education for students in key stage three and four. The timetable operates across a weekly timetable with 25 one hour lessons across this time. There is a tutor session at the start of each day where students are split into horizontal year groups. There is a fixed tutor programme for each week celebrating values across SMSC, British Values and Diversity, along with an assembly programme. Some students are supported in tutor time with personalised mentoring, literacy or numeracy activities. Year 11 use tutor time for GCSE interventions in English, maths, MFL and science. This intervention is reviewed on a regular basis by a dedicated team of subject specialists. We encourage students to participate in a rich diet of additional learning opportunities, situations and visits throughout their time at the academy. We believe that these are integral to their personal development and underpin their life-long learning as well as supporting our formal curriculum.Core subjects are taught in ability groups. These are monitored through formal assessments and adapted as required through the academic year. All other subjects are taught in mixed ability sets.
Key Stage 3
We offer a two year Key Stage 3 where all students are able to access a broad and balanced curriculum designed to foster their curiosity and wider understanding and knowledge in a variety of subjects.Our key stage three follows the national curriculum.
In Year 7 all students study a broad curriculum of: English, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, French or German, ICT Art, Performing Arts (Music and Drama), Design & Technology and PE.
Students select their GCSE option subjects in late Spring of Year 8. They are supported by a series of information evenings alongside their parents, and activities within school in order to support factually based decisions that will help to provide the knowledge and skills to take advantage of opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.
All students have an informal settling in stage once key stage four courses begin in order to confirm that they have made the best choices. We strongly believe in our decision to maintain a two year key stage three curriculum for the following reasons:
- No ‘dip’ after KS2 as every second counts to cover the expected curriculum content over two years
- A two year KS3 maintains positive attitudes to learning
- Students are able to ‘personalise’ their curriculum sooner
- Work should be more challenging as the content is covered at a quicker pace and over a shorter time
- The shorter time period has helped us to revise schemes and improve the quality of education at KS3
- Students have greater years studying KS4 topics and therefore become more inquisitive about their learning; more motivated too
- Greater depth is developed as a result
- Students enjoy having access to specialist teachers and this enhances outcomes
- Time is spent over a longer time to embed content and subject knowledge
Key Stage 4
All students follow a three year key stage four curriculum. Students currently study for level two qualifications in English Language and Literature, a qualification in maths, science and R.E. This provides between 6-7 qualifications as a school core. Students then follow level two courses in four other subjects over this key stage.
This curriculum model provides the time required for students to develop key knowledge and understanding within their chosen subject areas. We ensure that the English Baccalaureate is available to students and students are guided to consider this route during the options process.
Students are often excited to take new courses and the school is careful to offer some taster sessions in the run up to their choices in order to help them make informed decisions. New subjects available to students in Year 9 include Hospitality and Catering, Media, Computing, Sport, IMedia and Photography. Existing subjects offer qualifications in French, German, History, Geography, Music, Performing Arts, Design Technology, Textiles and Art. The school offers GCSE courses that are examined at the end of Year 11, and several that are designed to use a balance of controlled assessment and examination. Students like having both style of courses available to them and this meets the needs of our learners well.
In Year 11, the academy offers students a range of revision opportunities ranging from after school sessions to Saturday morning workshops. An alternative timetable is then designed in order to support students in the final steps of their journey to their GCSE exams.
Throughout key stage 3 and 4, the school designs ‘Super Learning Days’ (SLDs) in order to cover aspects of the curriculum that require more time or attention. On these days, the normal timetable is collapsed in order to facilitate this. These are related to developing knowledge and understanding related to personal health and well-being, safeguarding and emotional development and include issues related to bullying, online safety, alcohol and drugs education, mental health, child sexual exploitation, relationship education and preparation for exams.
The impact of the curriculum is measured in a number of ways over time to include:
- Student attendance to school. We consider attendance to be good and this acts as an indicator to the success of the curriculum and the support offered to students at school. In 2018/19 overall absence was 3.6% which was in the lowest 20% of all schools across 2017-19.
- Assessment and progress data. All subject areas are lined managed by members of the senior team and the assessment and progress data for each area is scrutinised at each of the three points during the academic year. Governors are also aware of this data.Students’ attitude to learning scores. These are monitored closely and any significant changes in patterns with these are investigated.
- Positive behaviour in lessons. Incidents of low level in class disruption have fallen significantly in recent years indicating that students want to learn and are engaged in this process.
- KS4 outcomes. In 2018/19, progress 8 was 0.8 and significantly above the national average. In English this was the same at 0.9 and equally too in maths; 1.1. The Ebacc element was 0.5 and the open bucket subjects performed at 0.8. We feel that this is a strong indicator that we have a appropriate curriculum model in place for our learners.
- Student voice. Students tell us that they like their learning and enjoy the opportunities made available to them.
- Additional learning opportunity uptake/trip uptake. In 2018/19, 99% of students within the school took advantage of at least one additional learning opportunity made available to them. This provides additional depth and breadth to their formal curriculum offer.
- No NEETS. All year 11 students have post 16 destinations in place.
Personal Development / Attitudes
Our students are our best ambassadors, they are proud to be part of Alcester Academy. There is a calm atmosphere around the school and this is always commented on by visitors to the school. Student’s attendance and punctuality to school and lessons is good and above 95%, students want to attend as they enjoy school and learning and this is embedded through our ethos and school values and shown by their positive attitudes to learning and the opportunities they are given in school. We were able to remove our “late gate” procedure as it was no longer required. The expectation is that all students will attend 100%. Any students that struggle with attendance and punctuality are supported to improve. Many students receive certificates termly for 100% attendance.
Student are self-managed at break times and lunchtimes and need minimal input from duty staff. We have a strong student leadership team who participate in many activities representing the school and leading student council activities and major school events such as the annual celebration evening across the school. We have a large majority of our year 10 students who apply to be prefects and take on the Head boy / girl and deputies role. Students across all year groups are given opportunities to be involved in student leaderships –tutor reps for year group council, sports reps, subject leaders including numeracy, literacy and MFL leaders, student librarians.
Student’s feel safe at the school if there have been places where students have felt less safe such as the toilets the school has taken measure to improve this such as separate toilets for year 7/8 and years 9/10. Student’s report through student voice that there are few incidents of bullying but when it does happen it is deal with effectively. The school will support and intervene even if these issues are happening outside of school. Students know where they can come if they need to report any issues or seek help and support.
The school takes effective measures to continually educate the students about all aspects of bullying, cyber bullying and peer on peer abuse both offline / online through assemblies, tutor work and super learning days. LSU supports many students across the school when they need additional support or guidance with their behaviour, attendance, welfare or pastoral issues.
Behaviour is outstanding and any issues are dealt with consistently and effectively by all staff. Permanent exclusions are rare and in the past 3 years there has been one permanent exclusion. Fixed term exclusions are used when it is deemed necessary, in most cases these are one off incidents and students do not receive further exclusions. All fixed term exclusions are followed by a re-admittance meeting that has to be attended by parents / carers and led by SLT and a period of behaviour monitoring through our LSU which is tailored to the individual child and their needs.