For the past four years Cantell Maths & Computing College, has been running a skills based Competency Curriculum for Year 7. It has been hugely successful and described by Ofsted in 2008 as; “outstanding in developing a broad range of study skills… and provides a supportive environment for incoming students.” Now heading into it’s fifth year it is going from strength to strength. By building on the foundations of the outstanding Competency Curriculum we were in a position to increase the levels of pace, challenge and academic rigour for all students starting in September 2010 who joined our Accelerated Learning Curriculum.
The aims of the Accelerated Learning Curriculum are to:
Allow all students to enjoy the freedom to experiment and feel empowered, by taking responsibility for their own learning.
We have based our curriculum around the Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills or PLTS. These have been used successfully by ourselves and other pioneering schools across the country to raise standards, behaviour, attendance and attitudes to learning.
The Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills, provide a framework for describing the qualities and skills for learning and life and has been developed over a number of years in consultation with employers, parents, schools, students and the wider public.
The PLTS are organised into 6 groups of skills:
Support the transition period from primary to secondary school avoiding the ‘dip’ in progress that is seen by students studying more traditional curriculums.
We have fostered extremely close links with our primary schools trough half-termly cluster meetings. This allows us to offer assistance and resources to our feeder schools including, transition projects, visits to Cantell to use our science and IT labs, Gifted and Talented projects run by an Advanced Skills Teacher and design and technology support for projects such as manufacturing key rings and cars powered by air. These close links allow us to have a much better idea of the needs and learning experience of our students before they arrive which allows for increased pace and challenge from the beginning of the year.
Unlock the potential in all students by targeted intervention and challenge, aided by our increased knowledge of the students so that all may make good progress
By teaching in a dedicated year 7 base for 50% of their timetable we are able to very quickly recognise the potential in each of our students and so identify those that need stretching and challenging, those that need support and those that need encouraging to progress to the upmost of their ability. The curriculum is organised into 3 main Ability Pathways and while students are placed initially, by detailed conversations with primary school teachers, we constantly monitor and assess the learning experience of each student to ensure they are following the correct path to success.
A major strength of the Accelerated Learning Curriculum is that it allows us to monitor and track the student’s progress much more accurately across KS3. With a greater depth on knowledge of the student and how they learn best we are able to identify and intervene with potential underachieving and also reward those who are exceeding their expectations through hard work and skills learnt in year 7. This will then lead to a smoother transition through year 8 and increased numbers of level 7 and 8s by the end of year 9.
For the Government progress is measured against KS 2 SAT results and there are prescribed levels of expected progress. A level 4c student at KS2 should achieve at least a C at GCSE. By using the PLTS framework the Accelerated Learning Curriculum allows us to set pupils in focussed groups and tailor our teaching to their needs. This allows us to extend them in their areas of strength and develop and eliminate their weaknesses. The PLTS framework complements and works effectively with other initiatives, including the SEAL project together with the functional skills of English, mathematics and ICT, it plays a crucial role in preparing young people for successful learning, work and life.
Increase the number of A and A* grades at GCSE level from our already high standard.
Over the past few years Cantell has achieved above the national average with regards to the number of A and A* grades. We look to build on this by focussing early on the vital skills and qualities that turn Bs and Cs into As and A*s. These skills and techniques are developed through the PLTS and are embedded within the Accelerated Learning Curriculum. They include techniques for note taking, revision and self organisation. We also have a dedicated team responsible for accelerating the progress of all ability students in literacy and language acquisition. This is a major factor in our rising standards as all students are able to access the curriculum in KS 3 and 4.
Expediting the acquisition of higher level thinking skills including those of leadership and management.
We at Cantell are very fortunate in that we get many very able and talented students many of whom will become leaders and managers in their futures. What the Accelerated Learning Curriculum allows us to do is to stretch and develop the leadership skills of these students, via the PLTS and a series of challengers and independent research projects. These students will play an active role in choosing how their education progresses and what they and their peers learn. They will run their own projects and tasks managing themselves and other members of their team.
You can tell...once you've seen the school in action!
If you have any questions or wish to see the Accelerated learning Curriculum in practice please don’t hesitate to contact the school at:
Contact Michelle Burt (Heads PA) to arrange a visit.