• Curriculum Statement

Curriculum Statement

“Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms”

UN Declaration of Human Rights 1948

“In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration”

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1924

INTENT

At Tewkesbury School we believe in providing a holistic and rounded education where the best interests of children are at the centre of everything we do.  We seek to uphold the values and virtues of ethical education in everything we do as set out in the Ethical Leadership Framework.

We aim to develop our students into knowledgeable, responsible citizens who are able to succeed in life, irrespective of their ability or socio-economic background.

School leaders, supported by the Governing Body, are mindful of frequent changes to school accountability measures and equally regular curriculum policy changes at a national level but, within that context, remain committed to offering a curriculum in the best interests of all Tewkesbury School students which can, at times, be contrary to a curriculum that would maximise the school’s position in national performance league tables.  The curriculum in place in recent years has consciously not been closely aligned to the new measures of school performance, including Progress 8 thus depressing the school’s league table position.  That position, however, is set to improve as a consequence of greater alignment of the curriculum with those measures.  The school does not and will not engage in unethical practices that are not in the best interests of children but do enhance the school’s position in league tables.

Curriculum decisions have been, and continue to be, shaped above all by the needs of the students in conjunction with the expressed wishes of parents and the views of our local business community.  Whilst acknowledging the importance of student outcomes as shown by performance data, we very much welcome the direction of travel of Ofsted in relation to giving greater weight to the overall Quality of Education.  The holistic development of the individual student has always been, and will continue to be, at the heart of the school’s mission.

At Tewkesbury School, we have not allowed our curriculum to be deprioritised nor narrowed as a consequence of high stakes accountability measures and have attempted to protect the breadth of options and opportunities available to our students against the background of significant real terms cuts in funding.

Maintaining appropriate standards of behaviour is central to daily operations.  Alternative provision is available at the school’s free school, Abbey View, in Tewkesbury where the school currently holds 13 of the 40 places.  Where students, for whatever reason, are failing to make sufficient progress at Tewkesbury School they can be redirected to Abbey View to benefit from a narrower range of subjects and smaller class sizes.  Vocational options are also available at Key Stage 4.

In the Sixth Form, students are offered a wide range of subject choices at ‘A’ level and further BTEC courses alongside the possibility of choosing to do the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) and Level 2 re-takes should they be required in English and/or Maths.

Implementation

On arrival at Tewkesbury School, Y7 students are split into two bands (Extension and Core) according to ability.  A range of indicators are taken into account including teacher assessments, end of Key Stage 2 (KS2) tests and cognitive ability tests (CATs) taken at Tewkesbury School.  Students in the core band, experience a curriculum that has greater emphasis on literacy and numeracy, whilst students in the extension band have additional lessons devoted to the learning of French.  On occasions, and where appropriate, students can move from one pathway to the other.

A broad and balanced curriculum is offered across a three-year Key Stage 3 (KS3) programme.  Art, music, drama and personal development (PSHE) are all taught as discrete subjects in Years 7-9.  In addition, students study English, Maths, Design Technology, French, Geography, History and Ethics. The development of knowledge and skills are carefully sequenced across all departments and are linked to the assessment system at KS3. Significant work has been done recently to map out the curriculum framework at KS3 with associated changes to assessment and reporting.

At KS4, extension students from September 2019 will take French through to GCSE and have three additional free GCSE subject choices.  Core students have the opportunity, but not the obligation, to take French as one of their three choices, one of which must be an EBacc subject (French, Science, Computing, History or Geography).

In the Sixth Form, most students are encouraged to take 3 ‘A’ level qualifications although some are allowed to take 4 subjects.  In addition, students have supervised private study periods and a ‘Futures’ programme with guest speakers on a range of subjects.

Industry and community links are strong and the school is proud of its rapidly improving programme of careers education and guidance and expanding links with the University of Gloucestershire.  An extensive programme of extra-curricular activities are also on offer with high participation levels.

Impact

Tewkesbury School is proud of the progression pathways of its students both Post 16 and Post 18.  In recent years, all students have gone on to appropriate destinations with none out of either education, employment or further training.

There is clear evidence from 2018 and 2019 GCSE results that the core and extension model has had a positive impact for the brightest children.  Further refinements continue to be made to the curriculum to maximise outcomes and ensure an efficient delivery model.

In recent years, the school’s Progress 8 score has not been a fair reflection of student progress given that the curriculum was not aligned towards the measure but towards the best interests of students.  The curriculum currently in Y11 and below sees more students taking a compulsory EBacc option which will improve the school’s Progress 8 score and its standing in performance tables.  In 2018 only 14% of students completed the full EBacc suite of courses and in 2019 only 10%.  This was a deliberate decision at the time based on the uncertainty surrounding the future of the EBacc.  Now the government’s intentions are clearer, our curriculum is changing and, consequently, we will see the school move up performance tables again in 2020 with a greater proportion of students following the EBacc suite of courses.  Strong representations have been made to Education Secretaries, Damian Hinds MP and Gavin Williamson MP and to Laurence Robertson MP (Tewkesbury) maintaining the inappropriateness of the EBacc for large numbers of our students.

Successful student progression is our ultimate goal and our curriculum is the foundation for that progression.  Schools will always have areas that can be further developed and our two most pressing issues are outlined below.

The progress of disadvantaged students is currently a focus for improvement.  An external audit has also been commissioned to look at issues around the lack of progress of disadvantaged children.

Progress in English has also been a focus for improvement.  GCSE results in 2019 were a very significant improvement on 2018.  A range of successful measures were introduced during 2018-19 which have paid dividends and will be further built on in 2019-20.   

If you have any specific queries in relation to the school’s curriculum then do please contact myself or Deputy Head, Rhys Adams, at the school.

Mr G M Watson

Headteacher