Quality of Education and Curriculum
Our curriculum has been skilfully adapted to the needs and interests of the students and this has helped to widen the range of subjects in which students do well. There is a wide array of clubs and visits, and the students value the opportunities they are offered.
The sporting academies in cricket, football, rugby and dance all provide yet further opportunity to work with professional coaches alongside the rigorous academic curriculum. The international visit opportunities are inspirational, with visits offered including Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Madrid, New York and Paris.
Hetton has productive links with all local post-16 providers including Durham Sixth Form, New College Durham, Sunderland College and Durham Johnston Sixth Form. The school works hard to ensure students are prepared for this important post-16 decision with our award-winning careers programme. This includes strong links with apprenticeship providers and universities such as Newcastle, Durham and Cambridge.
- At Hetton School we construct a curriculum that is balanced and ambitious. It is designed to give all learners, particularly the most disadvantaged and those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) or high needs, the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life. Qualifications, life experiences and character development and fundamental to life at Hetton School.
- The curriculum is coherently planned and sequenced towards accumulating the knowledge and skills for future learning and employment. 5 year plans ensure that learning is both sequential and incrementally challenging so as to best prepare our students. Iterative learning and assessment supports the transfer of knowledge and information to the longer term memory.
- At Hetton School we do not limit students by placing them on set pathways based on prior or current academic ability. Experiences throughout KS3 are consistent with all students experiencing a wide range of subjects and depth within a subject. Students are prepared throughout Year 9 and supported in making their option choices for KS4. Again, there are no pre-set pathways which are restrictive. Rather all students have personalised options choices and access to a full range of qualifications and experiences. We provide students and parents with the assessment information for these options and support their journey to a final decision. We are ambitious in our aim for all students to access their choice of post 16 provision and this form a specific section in our Pupil Premium strategy to best support our most Disadvantaged students.
- Our learners study the full curriculum and this is maintained throughout KS3. We believe this helps widen their experiences; supports their subject specific knowledge and understanding; and provides opportunity for character development. We do not believe in narrowing the curriculum or specialising too early. It is these varying building blocks that are essential.
- It is our belief that teachers must have a good knowledge of the subject(s) and courses they teach. This ensures that the journey through the subject is carefully considered and strategically developed. This can be seen in the subject curriculum plans. Leaders provide effective CPD and wider support for those teaching outside their main areas of expertise and indeed to keep abreast of course and specification changes. Evaluations of appropriate subjects, experiences and examination boards are a regular feature for review.
- Lessons focus on the positives. Stampers are used as a tool for positive recognition. Teachers check learners’ understanding systematically, identify misconceptions accurately and provide clear, direct feedback. This is a pivotal part of what we call the teaching and learning cycle. This enables teachers and support staff to adapt as necessary and reshape the learning to maximise the opportunity. ‘Blue Zone’ challenges students to work for extended periods independently and at a task which requires resilience. Blue Zone and ‘Brain in Gear’ are common features across subjects.
- Throughout subject specific 5 year plans and individual schemes of work the teaching structure is designed to help learners remember in the long term. It also supports the integration of new knowledge. We want students to understand the conceptual links between past, present and future learning and how they build on one another. Assessment plays a key role here through our termly formal assessments and the amended planning which follows.
- Assessment is not exhaustive and overly complicated but rather designed as a mechanism to help learners embed and use knowledge fluently. It also helps teachers to check understanding which then informs our teaching and learning cycle. Assessment are therefore completed termly which informs data input and reporting to parents.
- The impact of what we do and why we do it will lead to learners developing detailed knowledge and skills across the range of curriculum areas and, as a result, achieve well. This is will be reflected in student progress, confidence, achievement and ultimately outcomes.
- Our learners will be ready for the next stage of their education, employment or training. They will have gained qualifications that allow them to go on to destinations that meet their interests, aspirations and the intention of their course of study. Their education at Hetton School will support their post 16 progression both academically and as well-rounded young people.