Key Stage 3 and 4 Curriculum

Curriculum Statement 2020-21

The information provided explains the principles that inform the curriculum at Swindon Academy.  This sits along side our Curriculum Maps that detail the subjects studied at KS3, KS4 and KS5.  Details of these subjects, and their Curriculum Maps can be found in the subject pages of this section of the website.

Intent – our ambition for our students; how we achieve the best in everyone

Our aim at Swindon Academy is to provide an excellent education for all our students; an education which brings out the best in all of them and prepares them for success in life.  We believe in the endless pursuit of excellence.  Our curriculum is designed to provide children with the core knowledge they need for success in education and later life, to maximise their cognitive development, to develop the whole person and the talents of the individual and to allow all children to become active and economically self-sufficient citizens.   

By teaching our curriculum well, we develop students’ cultural capital, the essential knowledge that students need to be educated citizens, introducing them to the best that has been thought and said in each subject.  We hope that our curriculum at Swindon Academy enables children to appreciate and participate in the full richness of the human experience. Subjects work together to identify knowledge, thematic and skills-based links between their disciplines and exploiting those through careful joint planning will enable students to make connections that will help them to understand the world around them and their place in it.

Swindon Academy teachers and leaders have been involved in developing the Curriculum as a core academic curriculum, founded on these key principles:

  • Entitlement – We believe that all children have the right to learn what is in the Curriculum; we have a duty to ensure that all children are taught the whole of it.  Every subject is planned with clear progression and sequencing in every subject.
  • Mastery – We want all students to achieve a full understanding of the knowledge specified in the Curriculum for each year, and teaching should not move on until this is achieved.
  • Stability – We won’t constantly amend the Curriculum: while we should make occasional adjustments in the light of feedback and experience, we will aim for stability over many years, so that teachers can develop expertise, and we constantly build assessments and teaching materials to support the Curriculum.
  • Concepts not contextThe Curriculum is intended as a concise specification of knowledge and content to be taught and learned; it is for teachers to decide how to teach and bring it to life.

Implementation – how we expose our students to powerful knowledge and provide education with character

The curriculum in each subject can be viewed at the Swindon Academy website Here/below.  Subject specialism is at the heart of our curriculum and you will see differences in the way that the curriculum is constructed and assessed in different subjects. Standardised written assessments, for example, play less of a role in performance subjects such as music, drama and physical education. The stability of our curriculum allows subject expertise to develop over time, and we are careful to provide sufficient time for teachers of the same subject to plan together and collaborate.

Detailed planning enables us to deliver a rigorous and challenging curriculum. Outstanding teaching fosters independent, creative and resilient learners who gain a mastery of their subjects and are able to communicate confidently and effectively.

Subject Masterclasses are an integral part of subject specialist development at Swindon Academy.  Curriculum Leaders and subject specialists plan termly sessions where departments work together to deliver subject content to our students at the highest standard.    

Further subject specialism is provided by United Learning’s subject advisors. These advisors are subject experts who help teachers link the subject discipline to our students’ daily experience in the classroom. Subject advisors meet regularly with Heads of Department across United Learning and provide curriculum resources to support the implementation of the subject curriculum.

As a mastery curriculum our students study topics in greater depth, with the expectation that we don’t move on to the next topic until all students have a secure understanding of the current topic.  A 3-year Key Stage 3 provides students with the time and space to gain this secure understanding. In our lessons we expect to see all students grappling with the same challenging content, with teachers providing additional support for students who need it.  Rather than moving on to new content, our higher attainers produce work of greater depth and flair.

Our approach to teaching and learning supports our curriculum by ensuring that lessons build on prior learning and provide sufficient opportunity for guided and independent practice. We use Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction to develop our teaching practice.

1. Begin a lesson with a short review of previous learning

2. Present new material in small steps with student practice after each step

3. Ask a large number of questions and check the responses of all students

4. Provide models

5. Guide student practice

6. Check for student understanding

7. Obtain a high success rate

8. Provide scaffolds for difficult tasks

9. Require and monitor independent practice

10. Engage students in weekly and monthly review

The Rosenshine principles support the implementation of the curriculum by ensuring that students regularly recall prior learning. You will often see this at the start of our lessons. When prior learning is committed to long term memory it becomes fluent or ‘automatic’, freeing space in our working memory which can then be used for comprehension, application, and problem solving.

In order to allow the mastery approach to be effective (i.e. children learn what they are expected to in the year they are expected to), early catch-up is essential: we aim to promptly identify and support students who start secondary school without a secure grasp of reading, writing and mathematics through our direct instruction programmes, so that they can access the full curriculum.

Everything from what children learn in school – the taught subject timetable, the approach to spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, Well-Being Activities -  our extra curricular programme and to the ethos and ‘hidden curriculum’ of the school – are to be seen as part of the school curriculum.  Our principle of ‘Education with Character’ is delivered through the curriculum in this broadest sense.

This year we have introduced ‘Read aloud’ in Years 7-10.  Students read every day.  Each year group has a selection of books that they read, the Swindon Academy Cannon.  These books are a mixture of modern young adult fiction and classic tales.  There is also a range of non-fiction books.  The aim is to increase the love of reading in our students to build their cultural capital and to increase their vocabulary and confidence.

Students who join our United College Sixth Form have access to a wide range of academic and Applied General courses which are supported by all the resources they need to develop as a happy, educated and confident members of society.  Our United College Sixth Form Students develop effective study, revision and exam strategies that establish a strong work ethos.

Impact – how we measure and secure continuous improvement for all

Swindon Academy students are able to sit common assessments in most subjects as part of United Learning.  These are summative assessments which allow students to demonstrate their growing understanding of their subjects and enable teachers to assess the impact of their teaching. These summative assessments are typically taken once or twice a year, allowing teachers to focus on formative assessment from lesson to lesson.

We are particularly conscious of the role that literacy and vocabulary plays in unlocking the whole curriculum. Our teachers explicitly teach the meaning of subject-specific language through the use of frayer models, and we expect lessons to contain challenging reading and writing. Knowledge Organisers provide students with key information that they are expected to learn and recall with fluency, enabling them to develop their understanding of key concepts outside of their lessons.

The culmination of our curriculum is that students leave our school with the confidence and intelligence to thrive. We know our students as individuals which enables us to provide curriculum guidance and careers guidance throughout their time with us.

United College Sixth Form ensures that the choices our students make align with career aspirations. We support students, both personally and academically, to be the best they can be.  We expect all students to leave Swindon Academy with the grades required to progress to their desired destination, and the character required to flourish once they get there.

Every student has an equal right to a challenging and enlightening curriculum. By teaching this curriculum well, and developing effective habits in our students, we bring out the best in everyone and enable our students to dream big, aim high and reach far.

If you have any queries relating to the curriculum at key stage 3 or key stage 4 please contact Mrs Wright.

Key Stage 4 Options 2021

All students will study four of the following – option classes will be determined by pathway of study.

Art Business Studies Spanish Engineering
Textiles Computer Science Music Sport
Food Geography RE Creative IMedia
Photography History Product Design  
Travel and Tourism Performing Art - Dance Health and Social Care Peforming Arts - Drama


KS4 Pathways

There are three pathways that students at Swindon Academy can follow.  These are designed to meet the individual needs of our students.

  1. Ebacc – Combined Science, History or Geography and Spanish
  2. Progress 8 – Combined Science and one of (History, Geography or Spanish)
  3. Progress 8+ - Combined Science and Humanities (resulting in GCSE geography)

Additional GCSEs or equivalents

Year 10 will be completing AQA level 2 certificate in further mathematics.

  • For students who are behind in their chronological reading age, additional support is provided to enable them to rapidly catch up.
  • For students that are well below expected progress in maths and English, additional support is provided to enable them to rapidly catch up.
  • Personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) is delivered through all curriculum areas as well as 1 period per week of curriculum time and supported through a programme of assemblies, tutorial sessions, national and cultural days.

Below you will find links to information regarding option choices for students before they commence key stage 4. This includes a brief overview of the options process and additional  information for all subjects from which students are able to chose.

GS Options Booklet 2021

EBACC Options Booklet 2021

Progress 8 Options Booklet 2021

Progress 8+ Options Booklet 2021

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