Pupils at the Academy are usually admitted with the intention of following one of two pathways; short or long stay. For those who follow the shorter route, they will typically be with us for a period of six to eight weeks. Whilst here, they follow a bespoke curriculum, personalised to suit their circumstances and with the potential to flex as needs change, or new needs are revealed.
A short stay pupil will receive a mixture of academic and vocational education. This seeks to address any gaps in subject knowledge, continue age appropriate education, sustain options for the future and prepare them, in terms of their relationships and behaviours for learning, for a successful return to their previous, or another, mainstream/alternate provider. The intention of Mary Astell is that an increasing proportion of pupils will be on the shorter pathway which will minimise the disruption to progress in mainstream education.
Pupils who enter the longer route will receive an age appropriate education; sharing classes with either their key stage three peers or age related fellow pupils in Y10 or 11. These classes follow detailed, sequenced, schemes of work which incorporate national curriculum requirements and/or public examination course specifications, shaped and tailored to meet the needs of each pupil. As with short stay learners, the personalised learning schemes seek to address knowledge gaps alongside, or followed by, development of new content to prepare pupils for their next steps.
As such, whether it is short or long stay, the curriculum is frequently reviewed to ensure it is meeting the needs of the current cohort of learners. Flexibility is an inherent part of its creation and implementation.
In all lessons, knowledge and skills from previous units are explicitly revisited and therefore systematically woven into all units to build retention, develop recall and ensure understanding. Sequences are planned and delivered across both key stages, to ensure pupils build new knowledge and understanding upon that previously acquired, and demonstrate sufficient grasp of the knowledge, understanding and skills relevant to their ability expectations. Learning objectives for every lesson are explicit and shared with the pupils so they too understand the purpose and sequenced nature of their lessons. Teachers and classroom based support staff use the principles articulated by Barak Rosenshine to increase the effectiveness of learning in their settings, including intentionally revisiting previously taught key learning objectives in starters, main body of the lesson and plenaries, augmenting this further through homework, unit assessments and more formal examinations.
Medium Term Plans (MTP) are used by subject experts to develop and expand upon the learning outline found in the long term plans (LTP). The MTP’s are used by all teachers to identify core themes, ideas and components, sequenced across different years, which lead to pupils’ understanding how subjects are structured; each plan runs for approximately six weeks.
Literacy & Numeracy:
At the heart of our delivery sits the raising of literacy and numeracy standards and skills. The majority of our pupils arrive with gaps in their education and this frequently manifests in below age-related abilities in either, or both, literacy and numeracy. We are committed to raising the standards of literacy and numeracy for all our pupils as these crucial attributes are the keys to accessing all learning, whether here, or in further education.
In addition to our discreet literacy and numeracy lessons and intervention sessions, there is focus on these core functions in all areas of the curriculum. Cross-curricular links are embedded in every subject and reading is a priority in all subject disciplines (inclusive of vocational areas). Our growing reading spaces, intervention tutors and adoption of proven achievement raising techniques bring tangible benefits to pupils.
Classroom based lessons offer numerous opportunities for pupils to engage in pieces of extend writing. These allow for the skills taught to be demonstrated in the pupil’s own hand and for our teachers to provide valuable feedback and guidance. Additionally, pupil’s exercise books allow pride to be demonstrated in the quality and presentation standards of written work while also acting as recall and revision tools.