At Hexham Middle School, we have designed an ambitious and empowering curriculum which has success for all learners as its core. The curriculum is driven by our ethos, values and ‘outstanding eagerness to promote good learning’. The curriculum promotes our core values of ‘Respect. Engage. Aspire’ by:
- Building respect
- Embedding high expectations rooted in a love of learning
- Promoting education in its broadest sense
- Shaping children as citizens of the wider world
Designed in line with the National Curriculum, the curriculum enables pupils to know more and remember more and to make sustained progress through well-sequenced learning. They achieve well whilst developing their resilience and confidence and responding to the high expectations and ambition teachers have for them. Core literacy and numeracy knowledge and skills are at the heart of all we do. Throughout the transition process from year 4, we have a structured approach to identify The curriculum recognises the importance of prior learning, and we work to build on existing knowledge to deepen understanding. The close Partnership working between local schools (including between middle and high) ensures that our pupils progress with the required knowledge and skills to be successful in the next stage of their education; teachers plan and assess with horizon knowledge in mind. In all curriculum areas, teachers plan in small steps focusing on the components of learning and building a depth of understanding. Teachers highlight the links between knowledge and skills both in and across curriculum areas so that pupils can transfer their understanding and strengthen their learning. The curriculum is designed so that all learners, regardless of their starting points, know more and remember more.
We recognise that some pupils at our school experience disadvantage in their lives and may have additional needs. All staff are committed to supporting them to overcome the disadvantage (through providing advantage). This involves teachers (and wider staff) knowing each young person’s profile (background, interests, what works, what doesn’t, etc), actively trying to build a positive relationship, knowing where they are with their learning and working with determination to enable them to reach intended end points with their learning, which are as ambitious for them as for their non-disadvantaged peers. We actively coordinate provision and support across the different domains of a child’s education to ensure that a holistic approach exists for each vulnerable young person.
Our curriculum and broader educational experience is fully inclusive of all learners, We plan the curriculum so that all children can access the full curriculum and develop their knowledge and understanding. All pupils are empowered to succeed. Learners’ additional needs (SEND) are well understood by all staff members so that all learning is accessible ensuring that all pupils access a curriculum which enables them to succeed. The curriculum is planned so that scaffolded learning opportunities are embedded and that these scaffolds can be gradually and carefully reduced to support a growing independence. Staff know the children as individuals and know how to support their learning at each stage. Hexham Middle School is a supportive and nurturing environment where all pupils are enabled to flourish and enjoy success.
A love of reading and the development of life-equipping literacy skills permeate the curriculum across all subjects. Teachers explore disciplinary literacy and teach ‘buzzwords’ in every lesson. We believe that vocabulary acquisition, reading and broader literacy skills are key to success. We understand the importance of pupils learning and being able to use new vocabulary across the full range of subjects. We promote a reading culture both in lessons and through wider curriculum opportunities and are very proud of our library facilities. Whole class reading is a driver for ensuring that all children access well-modelled reading of high-quality texts using an immersive, ambitious approach. We support struggling readers to develop their confidence and skills to unlock the literary world around them. High-quality texts are chosen across the curriculum to ensure that reading transcends all subjects and that comprehension skills are developed in a wide range of contexts.
The wider curriculum is enriching and stimulating, and we truly believe there are opportunities for each and every pupil. Staff at Hexham Middle School believe in providing rich and fulfilling experiences across all curriculum areas. Happy pupils are at the heart of everything we do – the many news reports and images on our website display this enthusiasm and engagement perfectly. Pupils are taught how to be safe and how to prosper in the ever-changing world we live in. Our approach to pupils’ personal development encompasses character building, cultural experiences, careers and further education, keeping safe and positive well-being, whilst also promoting British values and social cohesion. We understand the local context and ensure that learning focuses on the world around us – both locally within the community and internationally. The six strands of personal development are woven through the school curriculum:
- Promoting health and wellbeing
- Promoting British values and social cohesion
- Getting ready for the world of work
- Knowing how to stay safe
- Developing character
- Encountering meaningful cultural experiences
Throughout the school, pupils engage in a spiralling curriculum to develop fundamental skills through the ‘Skills Builder’ programme. Teachers weave these essential skills throughout the curriculum so that listening, speaking, problem solving, creativity, positivity, aspirations, leadership and teamwork are taught across all subjects. Enriching opportunities for pupils to develop these skills beyond the classroom are carefully planned into the wider curriculum model.
We educate our young people to have good character and values and through a planned approach, we seek to develop the following virtues in our young people: intellectual virtues, which include reflection, focus and critical thinking; moral virtues, which include courage, self-discipline and gratitude; performance virtues, which include resilience, teamwork and determination, and civic virtues, which include service, citizenship and volunteering. We teach the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs to enable our young people to participate fully in and contribute positively to life in modern Britain. This includes developing knowledge of Britain’s democratic parliamentary system and its central role in shaping our history and values, and in continuing to develop Britain.
We fully believe in providing a broad, balanced and stimulating curriculum. We pride ourselves in the vast array of creative opportunities through music and the arts. Pupils demonstrate consistently high expectations of themselves when it comes to immersing themselves in learning and opportunities outside of the classroom. The success of the many school teams and groups exemplifies the spirit and commitment of our pupils. Over the course of their time at Hexham Middle School, pupils develop an independence and confidence which equips them for their next stage of education. Opportunities for leadership at all stages are promoted through experiences such as elections for House Captains, Head Pupils and Peer Mentors.
The HMS curriculum is carefully sequenced so that substantive and disciplinary knowledge develop in conjunction across all subject areas. The curriculum is planned so that pupils have the opportunity to revisit prior learning and to build on this knowledge. To ensure that our learners are truly ‘engaged’, a carefully planned enrichment experience is planned across the year groups to ensure that the learning experience is brought to life by visits, visitors and new experiences both within the local community and beyond.
The Trust is focused on fully embedding formative assessment across all year groups as we firmly believe this responsive and adaptive approach leads to deeper learning for all pupils. We are clear and consistent in our expectation of great behaviour for learning and promote a positive environment where pupils are rewarded for their efforts, resilience and success. Teachers want pupils to know and remember more and the curriculum allows for knowledge and skills to be retained and developed over time. The curriculum is planned so that pupils are enabled to remember their learning over time, to make connections between subjects and to embed their learning in a wide range of different contexts. Regular and ongoing assessment allows pupils to know how to take their learning forward through targeted teacher feedback and subsequent pupil action. Pupils are part of the learning experience and are encouraged to take ownership of it.
Within Hadrian Learning Trust, lessons are built upon the foundations of the ’10 Elements of Great Teaching’ – fundamental pedagogical aspects rooted in educational research which lead to great learning. In our classrooms, you can expect to see these elements embedded in teacher practice alongside a structured approach allowing pupils to:
- Engage purposefully
- Enhance their memory of key knowledge
- Make links and connections between areas of learning
- Talk about their learning to strengthen their understanding
- Understand what they are learning and why
- Learn together through structured guided practice
- Learn through independent practice
- Self-regulate and understand how they best learn
- Understand how to take their learning forward
Our curriculum is designed to have a positive impact. Children at Hexham Middle School develop high levels of ‘Respect’, are able to ‘Engage’ in a broad educational experience and ‘Aspire’ to achieve well and be successful in the next stage of their education as they move to high school.
Pupils leave Hexham Middle school with a sense of pride, an understanding of resilience and with the confidence and independence to succeed in the next stage of their education and beyond. As they leave us, pupils have acquired the necessary skills and knowledge to enable them to thrive. We see their confidence and independence growing throughout their time with us and opportunities to foster this are planned during their four years in the school.
Integral to our great curriculum design, is well-considered assessment so that teachers (and school leaders) know how our pupils are progressing with their learning. To understand the impact of our curriculum, formative and summative assessment are carefully planned. Formative assessment is at the heart of what we do day-in, day-out, and teaching staff are able to shape the learning for the children in their classes. We regularly speak to the children about their learning experience. We love talking to them and hearing about the pride in their learning and their knowledge development over time. We see the positive impact our curriculum has through the high-quality work produced by the children showing a real pride and depth of understanding; we see it through the ongoing tracking of pupil achievement from their starting points and we see this through the results of external assessments. The curriculum promotes a respectful attitude, a value of differences, a high level of engagement in all aspects of school life and beyond and an aspirational approach where pupils are receptive to challenging themselves to be the best they can possibly be and to take new opportunities with confidence.
Our full ‘Accessibility Plan’ is available in the policies section of our website and from the school office. The plan details (in line with the Equality Act 2010) how the school ensures that disabled children can access the curriculum, how the physical environment enables disabled children to take better advantage of learning, facilities and other services and how information accessibility is improved.
To ensure that our curriculum is accessible for children with special educational needs and disabilities, we have a dedicated team led by Mr Karl Barry (SENDCo) and Mrs Fiona Adams (Assistant SENDCo). The needs of all learners are understood through transitional arrangements as children join the school and through regular, ongoing assessment and communication between home, school and other external agencies. The curriculum is adapted accordingly to ensure that all learners can make appropriate progress and be allowed to excel. We instil high-quality first teaching for all learners and have high expectations of achievement for all. Where necessary, differentiated curricula will be adopted to allow all learning to match the needs of children. The school offers a wide range of targeted support focused on both academic and social/ emotional development as well as skills for life. Staff access development and training opportunities, for instance, this year staff are developing their understanding of resilience training to support children in their return to school. Our newly introduced ‘Key Worker’ model means that communication between home and school is more regular with time allowed for frequent assessment and review sessions. The school is also introducing software which means that information about pupils with SEND is easily accessible by all teaching staff. This also allows for close tracking of progress and development so that the approach to support can be regularly reviewed and adapted so that children access the curriculum and feel confident to progress in their learning. We strive to ensure that our teachers and support staff are equipped to support children with diverse learning needs and have an open-door policy to allow for the sharing of good practice.