Key Stage 3: A ‘Conscious Curriculum’
Our Conscious Curriculum gives learners the opportunity to make meaningful connections between subjects based on core knowledge that links to the OSSMA core values as well as a text studied by a specific year group at that point. Giving students the opportunity to study knowledge linked and discussed over a number of areas enables students to understand ideas more deeply and to then use them more effectively. Being able to study and discuss ambitious works of literature, that link to the themes studied and the OSSMA core values enriches students both socially and culturally creating opinions on topics that might not have existed before studying our ‘Conscious Curriculum’.
‘Conscious Curriculum’ is not just found in the traditional classroom environment at OSSMA. As well as studying enriching texts that complement the theme of that block every morning as a large group in form time, students come together as a whole year group in our ‘Family Lunch’ or ‘Family Breakfast’ sessions where students reflect on topics linked to world affairs and the texts themselves. Assembly time is also used to explore OSSMA core values and some of the messages and challenges put forward in the whole school reads.
This level of connectivity in curriculum enables each student the opportunity to read life-changing pieces of literature where keywords are explored within active form periods, helping to develop and harbour an ambitious vocabulary that enables our students to confidently discuss topics in a sophisticated way. Each text celebrates the resilience found in humanity and how empathy enables society to overcome challenges wherever they are found, building confidence in our own students to face and tackle challenges whether in an academic sense or beyond.
A typical day in the ‘Conscious Curriculum’
Breakfast club – student attends a club that: boosts confidence and teaches resilience through sport, provides an opportunity to complete challenging homework in a calm working environment or just a chance to read a book they are enjoying. After, they eat a free warm breakfast courtesy of the Magic Breakfast charity.
Form-time – students are discussing Reflection Time: today the focus is discrimination and why it exists in society linking to the theme for this block, ‘injustice and resilience’. Using OSSMA Oracy sentence starters students build on ideas using knowledge about the slave trade and the divisions it caused studied in Miss Walter’s History class yesterday. After 9am which is the start of DEAR time, as the book monitor hands out the copies of ‘Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry’ the rest of the class start to match up the key vocabulary words for that week to the correct definition in readiness for their Key Word Quest on Friday. They then spend the next 15 minutes reading the text together. Taking it in turns to read aloud. The class teacher uses the inference questions (on a key ring around their ID tag) provided by Mrs George to probe the students understanding of what they are reading.
Morning – In RS students learn about the non-violent civil rights movement led by Dr Martin Luther-King and how he based his principles on the teachings of Gandhi – they are encouraged to empathise with how difficult it would be to suffer so greatly but be strong enough to not resort to violence and keep faith with their beliefs.
Family Lunch – Students are discussing today’s topic ‘Why is social media used as a forum for abuse, and what can be done to eradicate this problem?’
After Lunch – Students in English are studying Writing to present a viewpoint. They use a manuscript of Luther-King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech to identify effective methods to engage an audience. Part of their Drama assessment this Block will be to perform a speech, with confidence, that attacks Injustice in society.
After-school – Our student attends wheelchair basketball, they had never tried it before joining OSSMA but they enjoy how different it is from all the other sports they participate in within PE lessons.
Research has shown convincingly that immersing students in concepts, values, processes and topics in different disciplines at the same time helps strengthen memory and understanding. This has led to the development of a ‘Conscious Curriculum’ at KS3. Our Conscious Curriculum operates on two fronts:
- Subjects are ‘conscious’ of each other and seek to make connections that present core knowledge from a large body of subjects that both challenges academically and enriches culturally. The knowledge in these subjects is connected, through a theme that reflects our core values, in order to help our student’s see how different areas of knowledge complement each other in order to broaden their own learning experiences and motivate a habitual interest in lifelong learning. The Academy has also developed an interconnected approach to STEM subjects ensuring that Maths, Science (and Science-based subjects), Technology and Engineering teach and apply processes in the same way.
- We want our students to be ‘conscious’ of these connections within their different subjects to stimulate better retention of knowledge and to place greater value on what they are learning, students in both key stages are given the opportunity to explore these connections during assemblies linked to academy values and themes; deepening their understanding of specific concepts.
- For students to become consciously aware of the cross over STEM curriculum content, and have the independence and wider schema to seamlessly transfer theory from one subject area and apply it to another.
- To offer a well-sequenced series of curriculums that best prepares students for requirements in all STEM subjects.
- For teachers of STEM subjects continually develop their STEM knowledge and experience, maximising their impact through continuous CPD opportunities.
- To develop a consistent approach to cross over subject pedagogy ensuring that teachers of the same topic within different subject areas deliver the same techniques to re-enforce skills and drive attainment in these identified areas.
- To develop a provision for valuable and worthwhile ‘curriculum beyond the classroom‘ that not only builds on the classroom delivery but offers direct links to industry and further education.
- Improve the advertising/ marketing and profile of the faculty, creating a brand that will foster the cross-curricular culture within STEM.
- To ensure that strong links are made at both Key Stage 2 and 5, ensuring students are both ready to thrive on arrival, within and be careers.
- For employers to gain access to knowledgeable, talented people with strong STEM skills, increasing productivity, competitiveness and diversity
- For families and communities to recognise the value of STEM to young people, encouraging and supporting them in STEM-related studies and careers.