Designing a Thematic Curriculum, George Faux, Shireland October 2013
DESIGNING A THEMATIC
• The basics of our curriculum.
• The really practical steps to set up a similar system:
Profile of Hours
• What we have learned five years on.
A SLIDE OF HISTORY
• Where we were:
• Lowest APS of any Academy in the country.
• Fischer Family trust predictions of 29% 5A*CEM
• 1 Letter that catalysed change.
• We knew that only truly radical change would
alter our students achievement.
19 hours a week
“My daughter has 17
“My daughter is
making and she
does not know if she
progress in lessons.”
is coming or going.”
“The base has made
my son feel really
safe and happy”
13 hours a week
The one teacher
model means staff
can really know their
14 6 Teachers
– 17 Teachers
9 hours a week
This allows for a
fantastic degree of
• Tutors get to really know the students.
• The amount of effective feedback is
• Students have their own wing of the
building, rooms and lunchtimes.
• Lots of group work and welfare focus.
• High levels of supportive technology.
5 Year, radical plan to fundamentally
change the chances of our students.
Competency based curriculum
delivering skills not knowledge, skills
that allow students to improve rapidly.
Ten areas of focus, dealing holistically
with all areas of student development.
Combined with a pastoral model which
helps students to feel safe and secure
and allows parents a real relationship.
• Everything except areas which require
• Learning to learn is paramount.
• Amalgamated through themes but with all of
the essential skills present.
• In this model skills are more important than
• Requires constant communication and CPD.
Themes run for between 2-4 weeks.
This can involve anything up to 70+
hours of work on a topic.
There is a focus on quality outcomes.
Such as making a film or other large
Balance is the key to thematic
A “Big Write” at the end of every
Students write and read twice as much
as they previously used to.
BESPOKE TRACKING SYSTEM
• Expected Progress
• Threshold Assessment
• Some existing staff, some middle and primary.
Most important is a blend of skills.
• Staff have extra pastoral and academic
• Staff are all given an allowance.
• Staff have a reduced timetable.
• A subject to liaise with
• A literacy to champion for coverage.
• Expected progress thresholds have been
created for the different competencies based
on students ability when they come in.
• Regular SAT and threshold examinations are
held at the end of each year.
• Joint planning sessions to establish
• Department moderation to validate
• The Academy collapses the curriculum for all students
one day a week and for a week every Half Term. Known
as Achievement Weeks and Focus Days.
• This is applicable for all students, including KS4 and KS5
and rotates round the different days.
• For years 7, 8 and 9 these are often ‘Drive Workshops”,
mixed year taught to improve students who have fallen
behind on self diagnosed competencies.
• There are many benefits: in-depth learning, controlled
assessments, trips and experiences, staff training.
• Implementation takes time, ideally
you need a good few months of lead
• Half measures just didn’t cut it bold
steps gave the whole project the
credibility it needed.
• Staff need plenty of planning time in