Parklife - 26th January
We are at the half way point of Spring 1 term and, before we break for the holiday, we've got two really exciting residential trips booked - to take groups of our Year 7 and Year 8 students to Liverpool as part of their Key Stage 3 (KS3) Art curriculum. We look forward to sharing stories and pictures from these over the next couple of weeks!
This week we'd like to give you a bit more of an overview on our social curriculum and Habits for Success...
As well as thinking hard about how best to design the individual subject curricula that our students study here at Sewell Park we have also spent a huge amount of time thinking about and designing a social curriculum that is taught within our school. Our thinking has been led by a number of key thinkers and sources:
The French Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu explored ideas about cultural capital and the value of acquiring certain habits, skills, and dispositions (http://routledgesoc.com/category/profile-tags/habitus).
Over the last decade educationalists in the UK have explored the ideas of the American academic ED Hirsch, a proponent of fact-based learning and the acquisition of a canon of culturally valuable knowledge and experiences (https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/sites/default/files/download-file/Create%20ED%20Hirsch%20Cultural%20literacy.pdf).
In recent years the importance of cognitive psychology in guiding some of the approaches taken to teaching children and enhancing memorisation has influenced the work that teachers do and even how schools are inspected (https://educationinspection.blog.gov.uk/2019/02/13/developing-the-education-inspection-framework-how-we-used-cognitive-load-theory/). A growing acceptance of the validity of a cognitive approach has led to the teaching of ‘skills’ to become more structured, and a growing array of institutions and organisations offer programmes and resources to support the teaching of essential and social skills. We have borrowed heavily from the excellent work done by the UK’s Skills Builder and their well-researched Universal Framework https://www.skillsbuilder.org/) as it supports the teaching of skills through deconstruction, modelling and rewarded practice.
At Sewell Park, guided by the respective Head of Year, each Year Group has a carefully designed curriculum that details the social facts and skills that we want our students to acquire.
Each week in form time sessions the value of a particular social skill is detailed to students by their Head of Year. A form time session is dedicated to exploring the skill along with the steps that underpin the development and use of that particular skill. In lessons, teachers refer to the skills and students are awarded points for practicing or displaying them.
Our core intention is that, when our young people move on from Sewell Park they not only have the best possible GCSE grades but they possess the best possible set of essential social skills, values and ways-of-being.
Our Year 7s follow the support level competencies of the Habits for Success. These are the most basic and fundamental skills associated with our main habits of Calm, Creative, Engaged and Respectful, and all of our further habits build on the support competencies. A successful Year 7 confidently masters this foundational knowledge and is able to both demonstrate and articulate the value of our habits in terms of how the habits help to make them more successful at Sewell Park Academy, and ensures that they are well positioned to further develop their habits and knowledge as they move into Year 8 and begin to work with the core competencies. When Year 7s engage with the Habits for Success they are coached around why these habits have intrinsic value both in school, and outside of it. Students are also taught how a collection of shared values, that the Habits for Success help to establish, means that we are able to build a pleasant, positive and successful culture at Sewell Park Academy. It has been a real pleasure to see a number of our current Year 7s achieving their habits badges by being regularly and consistently rewarded for their Calm, Creative, Engaged and Respectful attitudes and behaviours; and wearing these badges around school with pride.
Year 8's are in the second stage of the Habits for Success curriculum, a successful Year 8 demonstrates a firm understanding of the school's social routines and expected behaviours whilst demonstrating the core competency habits. The core habits are there to form a foundation of habits that will allow our Year 8 students to become independent and engage in all learning which then allows them to understand what a calm environment looks like in an educational setting. This allows our students to be more creative and learn how to challenge their own thoughts and ideas. The social curriculum for Year 8 is designed to firmly embed the core values and behaviours of the school whilst challenging their idea of how this may look in a community setting or further education setting. I feel that these core habits really help them to be able to know how to be fully engaged in lessons and become independent learners at a very early point in their education journey. These skills will help our students in Year 8 to become very successful in their onward learning journey to Year 9 and GCSEs.
Year 9 at Sewell Park Academy is an essential year where students transition from their KS3 to GCSE (KS4) level learning midway through the academic year. The social curriculum and Habits for Success focus in Year 9 encompass a range of skills that will enable Students to be successful. They are exposed to a range of strategies that will enable their success when starting their GCSE level learning, for example, Year 9 have already explored mindfulness approaches, why respect is important in learning/life and the importance of diversity in learning. There is an array of opportunities for students to explore future careers and academic language that is encountered within their learning, for instance, what is the difference between a BTEC qualification and a GCSE. Small group interventions are put into place within Year 9 such as high challenge mentoring groups and employability sessions. Students feel safe within Year 9 and know where they can go for support if necessary from their trusted adult or any member of staff within the academy. The fundamental aim for Year 9 is to ensure that all learners are well prepared for the start of their GCSE level learning and have developed a range of social skills that can be useful throughout their life.
The aim for Year 10 is to continue to focus on settling into KS4 (following on from their work in Year 9) and understanding the importance of GCSEs. It is vital that we embed habits and behaviours which allow students to be successful and independent as they fully engage in their GCSE courses. We want to make sure that students leave Sewell Park with skills and habits that will allow them to flourish in the wider world, the social curriculum is designed to show them real life examples of what we're teaching, in practice. They must be ready for the final stage of refining these habits in Year 11.
The Year 11 social curriculum is underpinned by the transition that is imminent for them. We want our Year 11s to have the relevant social skills that will allow them to thrive and flourish in their next education setting and the workplaces they will be in after that. Whilst feeling supported, we want Year 11 to take responsibility for their learning and their futures because independent learning will be expected of them on a bigger scale at college or sixth form. They will need to be able to communicate with people they have only recently met. They may become leaders and, therefore, need to acquire the skills which will allow them to work effectively in a team. A successful Year 11 will have refined the behaviours explored throughout their time at Sewell Park. By giving them these tools, they will be confident in starting their next chapter because they will have a solid understanding that what we value at Sewell Park is valued in the wider community and how to put this into practice. We want them to feel proud of what they have achieved and ready for their next steps.
If you'd like further info. on our social curriculum you can head over to our webpage
or just drop your child's Head of Year an email.