Students at Altwood experience a knowledge rich curriculum that is broad, challenging and includes both substantive and disciplinary knowledge.
Careful consideration has been given to the sequencing of topics from Year 7 through to Year 11 so that ideas are developed in a logical fashion, with key ideas being revisited and learnt in greater depth as students progress through the years. Clear explanations of the reasoning behind the sequencing can be seen on the year group curriculum tabs on our curriculum maps. Agreement on the sequencing was made so that key ideas, necessary for a thorough understanding of a topic are encountered prior to the learning for that topic commencing. For example, in Year 10, before students begin the topic of electrolysis, it is essential that they have a thorough grasp of the underlying principles of atomic structure and chemical bonding so that they can explain the conditions needed and the reasons for the separation of elements from a compound via electrolysis.
In Physics at KS2 students learn about forces as “pushes” or “pulls” and start to investigate how forces can cause motion and the names of the fundamental forces. Our curriculum is designed to develop this understanding and in Year 7 students review the concept of balanced and unbalanced forces, introducing how the motion of an object can be affected by the interaction of forces. This emerging knowledge of the impact of forces on motion is necessary before students progress onto learning about acceleration in Year 9 and then expand on this further in Year 11 where the concepts of forces and acceleration are unified and it is made explicit to students how balanced and unbalanced forces result in constant motion or acceleration. The topic of Reproduction is taught in year 7 to give an understanding of how organisms produce offspring. This then leads into the inheritance topic in year 8 introducing how we inherited characteristics through genes. When we reach year 11 we are now able to use this understanding to explain Evolution through natural selection.
We recognise that learning happens over time and for students to develop a deep understanding of science, regular retrieval and spaced learning opportunities are needed.
Our curriculum is designed to identify and address misconceptions that can often be held by students or developed over time.
We use frequent in class assessment alongside more formal summative assessment to inform us on the progress of students and where additional intervention is required this is integrated into future curriculum plans.
Students have the option of selecting Separate Sciences study at GCSE (“Triple Science”). To ensure we are responding to meet the needs of each cohort we conduct a careful review of student progress in Year 9 to ensure the curriculum model that best meets the needs of the students is in place. We are conscious that some students may alter their plans for further study when they’re in Year 11 so we have accommodated this by putting in place a bridging course to support them with their transition to A-Level study.
At KS5 the exam boards that we follow have been carefully selected to engage students and give students the best opportunity to be successful with their studies.
For A-Level Chemistry we follow the OCR Chemistry B (Salters) specification. The Salters course comprehensively covers the key principles of chemistry necessary for continued study at university as well as offering contextual examples of how these principles are used in society. From the production of fuels and batteries, to the development of pharmaceuticals or the chemistry that underpins the atmosphere and oceans, the Salters course equips students for the next phase of their study and reinforces their appreciation of the many diverse applications of chemistry in the wider world.
For A-Level Physics we follow the EdExcel A-Level Physics specification. The EdExcel specification develops essential knowledge and understanding of physics concepts, while simultaneously ensuring that students appreciate the link between theory and experiment. Specialist Physics teachers have expressed a preference for the EdExcel course.
For A-Level Biology we follow the AQA A-Level Biology Specification. The AQA specification thoroughly covers a wide range of biological principles that equips students with the skills and knowledge to access a wide range of university courses where Biology is a requirement. Students are able to recognise the way biology is intertwined in many aspects of our everyday lives, none more so than the use of gene technology and vaccinations.