Whitley Academy is proudly leading the way in promoting an innovative curriculum delivery which supports the statutory aims of the national Curriculum – Opening Minds. We deliver the content of the KS3 curriculum in a creative and flexible way that prepares students for the 21st Century. This will meet all traditional subject requirements but challenges and extends all students through the development of transferable competences and skills.
These skills are based on the RSA’s Opening Minds Curriculum, which facilitates students in their ability to learn, relate to people, manage situations, manage information and to become active citizens .This is a complementary framework to the National Curriculum, enabling students to develop the skills welcomed by universities and by employers and help them to face the future with confidence.
We are an RSA Training School and we lead on the delivery of this competence driven approach to learning with our Key Stage 3 students. Teachers and senior leaders from other schools in Coventry and across the country come to learn from our outstanding practice.
All students in Years 7 and some students in Year 8 experience the Opening Minds programme, usually taught by one or two teachers for two thirds of their timetable. In the remaining periods of study, students go to lessons in Art, Drama, Food Technology, Physical Education, Information and Communication Technology, MFL and Product Design. These subjects deliver the key learning competences too. Their work is also linked to the content of the Opening Minds lessons.
Opening Minds teachers plan and deliver learning through thematic work that focuses on developing skills and competences as well as knowledge. This allows students to have a coherent experience, rather than a series of disjointed lessons. The Themes are:
The aim is that students are able to communicate effectively and with confidence in a range of situations when they leave school. In English, students learn how to develop their skills in reading a wide range of texts; writing in different forms, to suit task and context; take an active role in speaking activities. A firm emphasis on the technical skills of English ensures that attention is always paid to accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar.
Pupils will be expected to read widely both for information and for pleasure. They will have a weekly lesson in the library in which they read books as part of our Accelerated Reader reading scheme. They take quizzes on the computer to check their comprehension of what they have read.
Students are equipped with the skills and confidence in Maths to enable them to apply their knowledge to everyday life, the workplace and for further study in educational settings. We consistently build on prior knowledge and stretch pupils to develop their understanding and its relevance to the world around them through the following themed projects:
Our most recent student voice survey is testament to the success of the Opening Minds curriculum. Of those students asked, 100 % agreed that they learn and make progress in their Opening Minds lessons. They also agreed that their teachers help them if they have a problem. Over 80% of students said that they enjoy their Opening Minds lessons.
During the first term, Year 7 students are given the opportunity to accompany Opening Minds staff to Manor Adventure for a three-day residential. The trip helps to build positive friendships early on in the school year, teaching students how to work together with their peers and teachers. Students experience numerous fun outdoor activities, many of which are very different from what they may experience at school or at home, such as abseiling and kayaking. Although many students find these activities challenging, with the skill of the instructors and the support of the Opening Minds staff and their school friends, students find that they are capable of achieving much more than they thought. A range of competences are covered in this trip such as working well in teams and identifying personal strengths/areas to develop.