Our Vision for the curriculum at Harris Academy Morden is driven by our belief in the power that a great curriculum has to transform lives, not just by securing excellent qualifications but by developing every young person spiritually, morally, socially, culturally and emotionally, allowing them to mature into young adults fully equipped to realise their dreams and ambitions. To achieve this, our mission is to provide every student with the essential knowledge, skills and cultural capital to thrive both in their education and in modern society.
Intent of our curriculum
Ambition The intent of our curriculum is to provide a solid foundation across a wide range of disciplines through our comprehensive Key Stage 3 programme, which allows us to be ambitious for Key Stage 4, where all students continue to study an academic curriculum, taking one or more humanities subjects with as many as possible also studying a language to complete the Ebacc qualification. This will maximise the number of students equipped to progress to higher education.
Knowledge Our curriculum is primarily knowledge-based and is carefully planned by each Subject Director to ensure students learn the knowledge and key concepts for that discipline, while developing the skills they need to be successful. Teachers plan lessons that tap into students’ curiosity, encouraging them to think and work independently, in turn preparing them for the next steps in their education.
Creativity and Cultural Capital Our curriculum values creativity and from day one students are challenged to express themselves in art, drama, music and cookery, providing them with both the life skills and the cultural capital that comes with being able to talk about an artist they admire or a play they have performed in. These curriculum areas add richness outside the classroom through opportunities for theatre and gallery visits, along with numerous occasions when students can sing or perform.
Equity Our curriculum is underpinned by a commitment to equality of opportunity and we strive to ensure that all students are able to succeed no matter what their entry point is. This means that we have a sharp focus on reading, writing, speaking and numeracy. Some will require specialist teaching to help develop the basics that were not formed appropriately in Key Stage 1 and 2 through formal teaching of Phonics. For others this will be the development of subject specific language and knowledge through specialist teachers. All teachers know their classes and the individuals in them and so ensure that specific needs are catered for.
Character and Preparedness To equip students to be responsible global citizens who engage with British society and its values, live happy and healthy lives and know how to achieve their life goals and secure their economic wellbeing, we have a comprehensive programme of SMSC, PSHE, citizenship and careers activities that expose students to a range of learning opportunities, experiences and inspirational speakers to ensure that the academic side of the curriculum is fully complemented, preparing students for life beyond school.
Curriculum Planning and Review
The implementation of our curriculum across the academy is illustrated below. It starts out with the planning of schemes of work and lesson materials and their delivery in the classroom. Their success is then tested using a range of assessment methods. At the same time, senior managers assure the quality of delivery and impact through lesson observation, book scrutiny and student voice interviews. This then informs feedback to Subject Directors to inform their planning and help identify training and development needs.
Subject Directors are the key agents in planning the delivery of the curriculum in each subject. The primary focus of their role is to plan sequences of lessons that ensure that students master increasingly complex knowledge and skills, with each year’s learning building upon the last. Working with their department teams, they expertly drive the implementation of their subject by employing and encouraging a wide range of creative approaches and techniques to best secure student learning. To view the plans for each subject please visit the ‘Subjects’ page on our website.
Each Subject Director oversees the preparation of Schemes of Work for each year group. We are developing schemes of work to support all teachers by setting out the curriculum for their subject with an emphasis on what is to be taught and in what order. All subjects have identified the intents for their specific discipline and create plans which deliver and revisit these key aspects throughout each year. When planning a unit, teachers define endpoints for each unit and then plan sequences of lessons which contribute to these endpoints. They will consider the key vocabulary that students need to know and plan in strategies to help students know and remember more, such as interleaving or retrieval practice. They will make decisions about how often to revisit topics or practice skills. They will identify opportunities for cross-curricular work, for example, the core knowledge of World War 1 in history adds to the hinterland curriculum for English when they study war poetry.
All teachers ensure their lessons are planned to stretch and challenge the most able students in their classes as well as supporting those who sometimes struggle. Throughout their time at Harris Academy Morden, students who need extra support receive it through a wide range of channels, including within lessons, during after school catch-up sessions and, where appropriate, via the SEND department.
To view each subject's intent document, please visit the Subjects Page.
Assessment is an on-going process and is built into every lesson. Teachers assess student progress in a range of ways, including the assessment phase of each lesson, questioning and class discussion, end of unit tests and formal assessments. They carry out detailed question level analysis of students’ work and use this to identify strengths and areas of weakness so that they can intervene appropriately. They mark students’ books in line with our marking policy and provide students with feedback to respond to.
At least twice per year, students complete a formal assessment which will be marked and moderated to establish how well each student can recall and apply what they have learnt. Subject Directors analyse the test against their planned curriculum intents and populate a Question Level Analysis document which provides information about how well different aspects of the planned curriculum have been learnt. Time is then built into the calendar for teachers to focus on the outcomes of the QLA and revisit points of difficulty.
All of this assessment activity provides valuable information on how well our students are understanding what is being taught and how well our curriculum is being implemented. This will inform both short- and medium-term planning because:
- Teachers will adapt their lessons to review points of difficulty and challenge misconceptions
- Subject directors will review their schemes of work to maximise the impact of their curriculum.
Teaching and Learning
Monitoring of teaching and learning by senior and middle leaders is also focused around ensuring the effective planning and delivery of the curriculum. Each subject undergoes two Subject Focused Observation Cycles per year which include:
- Observations of each teacher in that department, covering a range of year groups across the department
- A review of the scheme of work in relation to what is being delivered in class
- A review of the assessment data for each class observed
- Scrutiny of a range of student work and exercise books
- Discussions with students about their learning
- Discussions with teachers about their lessons (feedback meetings)
Each Subject Focused Observation Cycle is led by a senior leader who will summarise its findings and discuss them with the relevant Subject Director, to inform their Subject Improvement Plan. In addition the outcomes of the monitoring process will be used to inform termly reviews of the Quality of Teaching at the academy and help identify Academy Professional Learning needs and shape both our weekly Best Practice sessions and any additional PL Academy sessions.
During a student’s time at Harris Academy Morden they may require additional support programmes dependent on their arrival point and their individual needs.
Our philosophy is to provide extensive support to students based on their need.
We have two main programmes of support:
- EAL support programmes
- Literacy based support programmes
We passionately believe that if students do not receive enough depth in their areas of need then this can diminish a student’s life chances and their Academic success is capped.
At Harris Morden we have invested heavily in our EAL and Literacy programmes. We have specially trained TAs and teachers to manage and deliver these programmes of study and allocate a significant number of hours over a week to ensure students improve in their areas of need quickly and move to re-join a wider or full curriculum as quickly as possible.
It is this programme of extensive early support that enables students to progress and we are deeply proud of our efforts and the success our students achieve as they become more confident in their reading and speaking skills thus opening the door for them to progress and experience a range of curriculum opportunities.
Alongside our rigorous academic programme, our curriculum makes a significant contribution to students’ personal development. The Academy develops students’ strength of character from the moment they enter the academy’s gates. The Academy motto is ‘Courage, Challenge and Success’. Every day students are expected to show resilience and have the determination to persist even when things are difficult. Our ethos fosters an environment where students are confident to voice their views, cope with struggle, ask for help when they don’t understand and identify their own strengths and weaknesses. Our marking and feedback is designed to help students reflect on each piece of work and provides them with an opportunity to improve on it, promoting resilience and independence by helping them see their own potential to improve.
We have a well-established programme for SMSC which is delivered through a number of channels including weekly assemblies, tutor-time activities, 3 SMSC and Wellbeing days per year and the annual AEE week when students have the opportunity to visit all manner of museums and other places of interest. As part of this, students are taught the Citizenship National Curriculum in a weekly tutor-led session and Fundamental British Values are promoted throughout the academy, in assemblies and on SMSC days. To encourage students to be active Global Citizens:
- Each faculty organises events for different charities and we observe various charity events throughout the year.
- The Student Council is active and meets half-termly.
- We take part in annual elections in school and have returned 2 representatives to the Merton Youth Parliament.
- We have also sent a representative to the London Youth Assembly.
The academy offers a wide-ranging extended learning and enrichment programme, designed to nurture, develop and stretch pupils’ talents and interests. There are over 30 different clubs offered to pupils, including a variety of opportunities in both music and the performing arts. Moreover, a wide range of sports clubs run on a daily basis, catering for both male and female pupils. Additionally, alternative clubs outside of sports and performing arts include cooking, learning Korean, an eco-focused club, training to become a Wimbledon ball-boy/girl and a school newspaper club. The academy hosts shows at Christmas and in the Spring and Summer terms. All pupils are encouraged to get involved in different ways to suit their personalities and interests. The most able Key Stage 3 students participate in the Most Able and / or Gifted and Talented Clubs, which seek to encourage pupils to maximise their potential and offer trips to universities and challenges for the pupils to take part in. The school also runs a successful Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, which sees pupils work together on projects over a number of months.
In September 2019 we launched the Harris Academy Morden “Careers Academy”. The central aim Careers Academy is to provide effective education and training for all of our students. Through a well-structured and highly effective programme of CEIAG we will ensure that that all students can develop their Courage, personal Challenge and future Success both in school and on into adult life. Our careers programme has been built around the ‘Gatsby Benchmarks’ to ensure it addresses young people’s entitlement and provides students with personal, social and employability skills alongside the knowledge and understanding to support.
Each year we review our curriculum as part of a continuous cycle of improvement to maximise its impact. This is done by evaluating, for example:
- Data on student outcomes in internal and national tests
- Analysis of the outcomes for particular groups, for example Higher, Disadvantaged, SEND.
- Data on student destinations
- Data from monitoring activities such as lesson observations, book scrutiny and student voice interviews
- Subject exam reviews and improvement plans
- Student reading and spelling ages
- The impact of SMSC and Wellbeing activities on attendance and behaviour.