29th January 2018
Proposed Curriculum Change; The 3 Year Key Stage 4.
Curriculum Adjustment Proposal
The proposal is that Sheringham High follows a condensed KS3 curriculum (2 year Key Stage 3 and ‘3 year’ Key Stage 4) from September 2018.
Are schools allowed to condense KS3?
The Department for Education confirmed that maintained schools must follow the National Curriculum, but said that the Department does not mandate or set restrictions on how it must be taught.The DfE believes that schools are best placed to judge the curriculum arrangement that will be most effective for their students.
A condensed KS3 curriculum was recommended by the expert panel for the National Curriculum review. In its 2011 report, the panel said:
‘A significant and rapidly increasing number of schools are already effectively reducing KS3 to two years.’
The expert panel said a three-year KS4 would allow students to study a broader curriculum. It also suggested that it would allow subjects to be taught in greater depth, "with access to specialist teaching and more motivated students."
Possible benefits of a condensed KS3 curriculum.
The DFE outlined the following possible advantages of condensing the KS3 curriculum (some of which may or may not apply to SHS);
- Students may transfer more easily from KS2 and avoid a ‘dip’ in their progress. They will not have time to make a slow start at secondary school, or to waste time repeating material already covered at KS2.
- It may enable schools to improve organisation of the curriculum, by focusing attention on KS3 and how to make it more efficient.
- Teachers will have to review schemes of work and evaluate pedagogical approaches. This may improve teaching and learning.
- Students may find the work more challenging as they are taught at a quicker pace.
- It may allow schools to provide a broader curriculum. Schools can use the time gained (either in year 7, 8 or 9) to increase enrichment activities, or include further work-related learning.
- Students may be able to choose between a wider range of KS4 options.
- Schools could choose to use year 7 to consolidate basic skills, prior to beginning the KS3 curriculum in year 8. Students may achieve higher standards by year 9 due to improved literacy or problem-solving skills.
Possible disadvantages of a condensed KS3 curriculum.
The DFE commissioned an evaluation of the pilot project when schools first experimented with a condensed KS3 curriculum. Although the DFE concluded overall that the results were "very encouraging", it also outlined some possible disadvantages (some of which may or may not apply to SHS) such as:
- Schools using a condensed KS3 to accelerate students onto KS4 courses found timetabling a challenge.
- It restricted opportunities for students to transfer between teaching groups.
- Negative effect on ‘broad and balanced’ curriculum model; poses the question whether there should be an ‘enrichment’ programme in place.
The current picture of GCSE.
GCSEs have evolved to become far more content driven with some subjects almost doubling in content, or including ‘A-level’ knowledge;
- Controlled Assessment / Coursework is largely gone.
- An emphasis is now on end-of-course (terminal/ linear) exams, which are often worth 100%.
- The Progress 8 measure is crucial.
- Many schools already offer a 3yr KS4, and schools are in competition for the same students.
- In order to secure the best chances and choices, students need more time to complete these new GCSEs.
Benefits of a ‘three year’ GCSE course for SHS.
- Additional time to complete course content and explore the subject more fully –not just teaching to the test.
- Specific departmental requirements could be better served such as more time to embed specific skills in Technology.
- Being able to prepare for exams more thoroughly with guided revision.
- Time to follow the ‘schema’ theory of teaching and testing.
- Available time for extra-curricular opportunities related to GCSE courses such as fieldwork or foreign language speaking practice which then does not impact so severely on other subjects.
- Transfer between teaching groups could actually be made easier for us at SHS not harder due to timetable flexibility.
- SHS could consider the addition of extra SMSC opportunities to address any perception of a ‘lack of curriculum breadth’
- Opportunity to explore higher level content –which prepares students better for 6th
- Meets the needs of all learners – Pathway 1 and 2 options such as Child Development, Motors, Horticulture remain.
- Removes some of the pressure earlier –students feel better prepared and ‘calmer’ for exams.
- Gives us flexibility within the curriculum to run year group activities -such as visiting speakers, workshops, master-classes etc… with less impact on other subjects.
- Gives Year 8 a focus and drive.
- Students that choose to follow a ‘practical’ course with much ‘making’ or ‘creating’ will benefit greatly from increased time in Year 9.
- Time in Year 9 to reinforce key foundation concepts, which will be built upon as a solid foundation for studies in Year 10 and 11, while actually starting the GCSE in year 9 rather than just reinforcing skills.
- Increased time in GCSE to raise ‘student aspiration’, and help them pursue their next step towards Sixth Form.
- Three years will allow for key activities to be spread through the Key Stage more appropriately for each course instead of cramming all GCSE into a year and 2 terms.
Disadvantages for SHS.
- Stakeholders may be concerned that such GCSE choices are ‘too early’.
- Departments must redesign their KS3 curricula so as to ensure rapid progress and skills foundations.
- The system can be perceived as being a narrowing of choice.
- Possible issues with students wanting to ‘change’ option subjects, as they will have to commit to 2 years and 2 terms of option subjects.
- Accreditation of course specs and their place on the specified Performance Tables list by DFE/JCQ etc can often be delayed, tardy and simply too far behind schools’ curriculum modelling.
- We cannot predict accurately what impact this will have on results despite evidence from other schools showing positivity.
What now if we move to the new model?
Students would now complete the options choices process in Year 8 instead of just Year 9.
- A pack will go home containing all of the important information.
- Students will follow a pathway of choices, and select optional subjects they would like to follow to GCSE level as they always have.
- A range of support will be put into place to discuss options, as it always has.
- The very best guide to options will always be the data available on progress and students will be guided towards the best options for them.
- Individual careers advice is always available.
- Extended Assemblies for students to explain what is on offer.
- Tuesday 9th January; Trustee Consultation.
- Thursday 11th January; Staff Consultation closed 24th
- Parental Consultation closes Friday February 9th 2018 at 9am.
Parent Consultation Document Sheringham Jan 18