At CCCS the curriculum is at the heart of all we do. We believe in the transformative power of education and that a rigorous, knowledge-based curriculum, which goes beyond the classroom and which has a strong emphasis on cultural capital and developing the whole person, is a basic entitlement for every child.
Our approach to all aspects of education, including curriculum, can be divided into three key areas, or ‘pillars’:
- Academic Excellence
- Love as Brethren
- Extra-curricular Opportunities
Through these pillars we seek to achieve manifold aims, including the reduction of disadvantage; the increase of opportunities; the imparting of powerful knowledge to all students and the fostering of a love of learning. In doing this we support students in becoming well-rounded individuals able to participate fully in 21st century life.
Our curriculum has been designed with ambitious expectations for our students in mind. We believe:
- That all our students have the right to follow an unashamedly academic curriculum, which includes the compulsory study of modern foreign languages.
- That at Key Stage 3 the National Curriculum should form the core of our curriculum offer, but that every opportunity should be taken to expand and enrich the students’ learning experiences beyond this.
- That all our students should aim to complete 10 GCSEs, in a broad and balanced curriculum offer.
- That all our students should have access to high quality creative, artistic and sporting opportunities.
- That all our post 16 students should have the opportunity to select subjects from a wide range of academic A Level courses.
- That all our students are supported by aspirational careers advice and guidance.
- That all our students are represented, and that diversity is celebrated in our curriculum offer. We achieve this through our choice of topics in subjects such as history and geography, via the range of cultures we promote in the arts and music, and the literature we study in English.
Love as Brethren
Our motto ‘Love as Brethren’ is the principle all staff and students use to guide their everyday lives; it is the bond which holds our community together, and provides a link to our history and traditions. This commitment to respect, charity and celebrating individual differences is expressed in a number of ways:
- Through our pastoral system and our programme of assemblies, which expands students’ perspectives and their sense of moral and social responsibility.
- Through our requirement that all students study full course RE at GCSE.
- Through our broad and inclusive student leadership programme, which helps our young people to develop key life skills, and which includes opportunities to take on such crucial roles as Diversity Captains, Charity Captains and Peer Mentors.
- Through our wide-ranging PSHE curriculum, which teaches our students how to respect one another, show tolerance and understanding, be safe, and understand themselves and their place in the world.
- Through our strong culture of safeguarding, which underpins all we do.
Extra – curricular Opportunities
We are incredibly proud of the breadth of our extra-curricular provision, and are committed to the belief that learning goes beyond the classroom. We believe that a varied extra- curricular offer provides a wide range of enhancing opportunities to all students, which has the following impacts:
- The development of key character skills such as leadership, organisation, resilience, initiative, team work and communication through attending clubs and societies.
- The opportunity to experience and become immersed in the arts – including music, drama and media – stimulating creative thought and cultural appreciation.
- The chance to travel and explore different countries, societies, and languages, as well as our own.
- The participation in sporting activities, developing a drive to succeed and a life-long love of physical activity; creating healthy individuals of the future in both body and mind.
- Building aspirations and fostering a deeper connection with, and passion for, subjects through ‘super-curriculum’ experiences such as the Cyber-Security Challenge and the Chemistry Olympiad, along with a vast array of educational trips and visits.
- That by providing an inclusive academic and extra-curricular offer, all students have the chance to develop diverse talents through an exciting menu of opportunities.
Key Stages 4 and 5
Whilst our approach to curriculum at Key Stages 4 and 5 is somewhat necessarily constrained by the exam board specifications, we still apply the same curriculum aims and priorities as we do for Key Stage 3. We also ensure that:
We choose exam boards and specifications carefully, so that we offer all students, in every subject, a coherent and well-resourced curriculum.
We teach every Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 course to its full and, where possible, teach beyond the specification.
Exam skills are taught at appropriate intervals and not at the expense of curriculum instruction.
The Curriculum in the Classroom (Implementation)
As a school we recognise the importance of knowledge acquisition in effective learning, and acknowledge the fact that for skills to be taught effectively there needs to be a secure foundation of knowledge present for the skills to build upon.
We are aware that the most effective method of teaching will differ from subject to subject. For example, many elements of a ‘good’ geography lesson will be different to a ‘good’ chemistry lesson. This approach ensures the integrity of each individual subject and the subject teachers’ knowledge of how to best teach their subject.
However, we also believe that there are some general principles which underpin effective classroom practice, regardless of the subject area. As a school we advocate explicit, direct instruction, combined with opportunities for deliberate practice of skills at appropriate points, e.g. essay writing.
These general principles of effective classroom practice provide the foundation of successful learning and teaching in our school. Crucially, they are not a checklist of things we would expect to see in every lesson or lesson observation. Nor are they an exhaustive list of good teaching practices. However, they do provide a common language which we use when discussing learning and teaching, and the curriculum.
Effective Classroom Practice at Coopers’ Coborn
- Creating a supportive classroom environment, so that opportunities to learn are maximised: an environment in which relationships are based on mutual respect and in which high expectations, with high challenge and high trust, are the norm.
- Structuring lessons so that all students are supported in accessing the curriculum by being provided with an appropriate sequence of learning tasks, with new knowledge and ideas presented and communicated clearly, and using concise, appropriate and engaging explanations to connect new ideas to previous learning.
- Using questions and dialogue to promote deeper, connected thinking and understanding, and challenge misconceptions.
Providing models and worked examples with appropriate scaffolding and challenge, to help students understand and are confident in what they need to know and be able to do.
- Adapting lessons to respond appropriately to feedback from students about their thinking, knowledge and understanding, and providing students with actionable feedback to guide their learning.
- Activating students to become more autonomous by progressing from appropriately structured learning, as students develop knowledge, skills and expertise, to more independent activities.
- Promoting opportunities for students to read more widely around the subject area, and to be able to appropriately articulate and express themselves, using suitably complex and subject specific language
Assessing the Curriculum (Impact)
Effective assessment is a key element of successful learning and teaching. Assessment at CCCS takes two forms:
- Formative assessment. The purpose of this type of assessment is to help teachers check student understanding, and to respond to the information gained from this. It enables misconceptions to be addressed, and requires students to recall key knowledge. Formative assessment can include quizzes, multiple choice questions, verbal questioning in lessons, and teacher feedback. These assessments are frequent and often referred to as ‘low stakes’. Results from these types of assessments are recorded as percentages.
- Summative assessment. These are longer assessments, designed to test knowledge of the curriculum and, at Key Stages 4 and 5, exam skills such as essay writing. These assessments are cumulative in nature, assessing large sections of the curriculum. These assessments are less frequent and are often referred to as ‘high stakes’.
It is vital that summative assessments are not over-used, as this can lead to a narrowing of the curriculum and ‘teaching to the test’. Each year group typically has three summative assessments per year (two per year in Years 11 and 13, due to the public exams taking place in those years). Again, results from these are often recorded as percentages. GCSE and A Level grades are only awarded to summative/cumulative assessments which cover a substantial amount of the exam specification, with the first such grade tending to be awarded in the end of year exams in Years 10 and 12. Summative assessments take place in a formal environment, such as in a classroom in test conditions, or in an exam hall.
Inclusion and Supporting Students with SEND
At CCCS teachers work closely with our SEND Coordinator and wider SEND Team to ensure that all students are included in every aspect of school life, and are able to experience academic success. All staff are aware of and have high aspirations for students with SEND. Teachers focus on delivering quality first teaching alongside implementing strategies suggested in SEND students Individual Educational Plans. We understand that lessons should provide appropriate scaffolding to support those students that need it the most. Teachers do not differentiate by giving students with SEND different, less challenging curriculum materials. Instead, they provide support so that students with SEND can access the same curriculum as their peers.