St Michael’s – Curriculum Vision Statement: “Academic Curiosity”
Written by Mr Stimpson, Headteacher
A teacher’s role is to inspire a love of learning within his/her students – this is actioned through exposure to a particular subject area. The teacher invites the students to experience a range of activities which incites their curiosity. It may well be that a particular student is naturally interested in the subject matter – but the teacher’s role is to craft the learning sequence in such a way whereby all students become immersed in the subject, see its relevance to their lives and form linkages with other topics and other subjects. This body of knowledge and skills, its sequencing and its interconnections to other areas, is what we mean by ‘curriculum’.
The Curriculum is the planned experience of our students – it is not restricted to the activities within the classroom, although this is a key place where the curriculum is shared. Nor is the curriculum simply the syllabus content, although this will greatly influence the material covered. The curriculum is the plan to expose students to an entire field of knowledge.
Lessons do not take place in isolation. Each learning sequence links to those that have gone before and forms a foundation for those to come. We learn by scaffolding new ideas upon old - by presenting fresh material in comparison with familiar, so that linkages are formed immediately and unfamiliar concepts are grounded in long-term memory. In so doing, learning is accelerated and new material builds upon old and is retained in memory more successfully.
Activities within the classroom form the bedrock of the curriculum, but this is supplemented by a tremendous wealth of trips and activities. We take our students beyond the confines of the school and out into the world in order to show them that what they are learning has impacted this world and shaped society, and so is worthy of diligent study. The understanding of such key knowledge, skills and ideas enriches our lives and enables our students to appreciate more this wonderful universe – God’s creation.
Access to competitions and cross-curricular events are an essential element of the curriculum. Students can be inspired by their competitive spirit, or by working with others as part of a team; such activities build skills which will prove useful to all students in the future – but also provide variety and interest to their studies.
Assessment, praise and celebration are activities which support the curriculum. Work undertaken or assessments completed provide opportunities for the teacher to give feedback to the student on the quality of the work or the effort made. In addition, assessment can also be used to alter the future curriculum to take into account current knowledge. Teachers will choose the best work to display in the classroom, recognise for a commendation, or write an article for the school website. At St Michael’s, celebration of achievement is an important aspect of school life – from the first merit given in Year 7 to the award of A Level certificates at Speech Night seven years later.
Our curriculum is primarily, although not exclusively, academic. Our curriculum at KS3 and the options presented at KS4 and KS5 offer a variety of subject areas, both academic and artistic/creative. We encourage creativity and artistry not just as a vehicle for building skills across all subjects – but for the intrinsic human value of these subjects and the contribution they make to our society.
Our curriculum vision is to foster Academic Curiosity; in so doing, we aim to enrich the lives of our students by instilling within them an appreciation of this world and our place within it; as well as enabling access to the most competitive higher education courses this country has to offer and the fascinating and rewarding careers which an academic education will open up beyond.