In September 2017, we launched our new curriculum –the Alt Approach. The curriculum is focussed on further developing challenge and through this, resilience, the key skills and the ability to ask and answer questions.
There are 4 topics per year, each beginning with a big question and then following a flow of learning – Wonder, Learn, Challenge and Share. As we have some mixed year group classes, the approach is taught on a two year cycle, this ensures our children experience a rich tapestry of topics as they move through the key stages. Each topic starts with an enrichment activity; such as a visitor to school or a trip, this instantly engages and immerses our children in the learning. They are hooked into the topic right from the moment it starts. It also is a time for stimulating wonder, asking questions and developing curiousity. Throughout the Learn and Challenge phases of the topics, the children continue to ask and answer questions about their learning. In the Challenge phase the children have the opportunity to apply what they have learned in other contexts. Finally, during our Share week children are encouraged to involve others in their learning, presenting what they have discovered in a variety of ways.
At least 4 out of 8 topics have a science focus, although topics are cross-curricular, covering Art, DT, Music, Geography and History. When the topic is Geography or History based, there are discrete science investigations planned for that term. English text types, reading and writing are matched to the topic and there is also a matched class novel. Maths, PE, RE, PSHE, computing and French are planned discretely, although it is expected that links are made where possible with the current topic.
We believe learning at Alt should educate the whole child – academically, socially and emotionally. At the core of our approach to learning is the development of the key skills, which will enable our learners to become effective citizens, experts in their own learning and well prepared for the challenges and opportunities ahead of them. By teaching our children about the key-skills we are providing them with valuable tools that they will continue to use throughout their lives. Here at Alt Academy, we have chosen to focus on the following key skills; Communication; Learning to Learn; Reasoning and Creative Thinking; Working with Others and Using Technology. We believe that this learning occurs along a developmental continuum and we call these stages: Apprentice, Developing, Confident and Expert. To enable our children to reach their full potential, we teach them how to: ask questions; act as critical friends; understand how they learn; work collaboratively; demonstrate positive learning behaviours and effectively use technology.
The design principles for our curriculum follow the framework for all our Academies:
- Follows children’s interests- it is relevant, varied, inclusive and context appropriate.
- Covers the National Curriculum- it is age appropriate, challenging and sets high expectations.
- Provides first hand practical enrichments and wider opportunities in line with the Harmony Pledge.
- Has a balance of knowledge and understanding, providing children with subject and key skills across the curriculum.
- Embeds communication of vocabulary-rich language through literacy.
- Enables the cross curricular application of maths using problem solving and reasoning.
- Provides life skills and character development.
- Develops self-regulated learners, who are able to organise themselves and keep themselves safe.
- Provides opportunities for success in different subjects and different skills, allowing children to share their learning with others.
- Enhances learning experiences through the effective use of resources and technology.
- Evolves over time with changing priorities and contexts, led by experienced practitioners.
- Follows shared principles across the Trust, whilst giving individual academies autonomy in implementation and approach.
The National Curriculum
At Alt, our shared VIPERS reading sessions and writing lessons are inextricably linked. We believe in the analogy that reading and writing are like breathing: the reading is the breathing in and the writing (or application) is the breathing out.
Each half-term, the children focus on three genres of writing and then we work on a two week cycle for each. The children look at each text at three levels: word level (individual vocabulary selection), sentence level (the building and manipulation of language) and text level (the text and cohesion as a whole). During the two week cycle, we look at excellent examples of writing, we analyse and unpick the structure (grammar and punctuation) and language of texts, and then the children write, edit and improve their own pieces of work.
Our aim is to get maximum impact from all sessions including those in spelling, reading comprehension, focussed grammar and writing. Using our rigorous assessment procedures, we ensure that lessons are based on what children need to learn in order to make maximum progress. All learning is cross-curricular and themed meaning all writing produced is based on a context linked to the current topic. Just as we do in many of our curriculum areas, we model or share, practise and apply everything we do, addressing any misconceptions as they arise.
During our shared VIPERS reading sessions, children develop their skills in answering questions which involve: Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explanation, Retrieval and Sequencing/Summary. We follow a two week cycle for these sessions to ensure equal coverage of all the areas and children are exposed to a wide range of texts/stimuli: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, song lyrics, pictures and video clips. All children also read as part of a guided reading group once a week and 1:1 with a teacher.
At Alt, we aim to create mathematicians who are fluent in all areas of Maths and can use this deep understanding and fluency to reason and solve problems.
We base our learning on the 'White Rose' scheme of work which is front loaded with number to improve fluency. We believe that all students, when introduced to a key new concept, should have the opportunity to build competency by developing a progressive concrete-pictorial-abstract
We encourage our pupils to look for patterns and make connections in their study of mathematics and give our students the opportunity to use structured models such as ‘bar modelling’ and ‘maths talk’ which supports them to visualize worded problems. We encourage our pupils to use the correct mathematical language to explain their reasoning of problems.
Developing our skills and understanding in the teaching, learning and assessment of Maths are a key priority in our School Improvement Plan.
The National Curriculum
Within our Alt Approach, some subjects do not fit- we teach them discretely alongside the other subjects to enhance and enrich your children’s learning experience.
ICT & Computing
We use the 4Cs approach to ICT and computing. Within our Alt Approach, topics last up to 8 weeks and we teach the children to create using digital technology, to connect to the wider world using the internet, to collect data and information and to code. Teachers plan engaging and exciting lessons using the 4Cs framework and the children build on their ICT and computing skills progressively across all key stages using a wide range of equipment and technology.
You can get further information about the curriculum from your child's class teacher and the unit termly newsletters or the Our Classes tab above.