Our Curriculum

Curriculum at XP Secondary

Purpose

This document outlines our curriculum rationale. 

Design Principles and the Curriculum

Our curriculum is inextricably linked to and informed by our design principles.

 

‘At XP we build our community through: 

Activism,

Leadership,

and Equity

sharing our stories as we go.’

 

As such, we design our curriculum to realise these principles. Our relentless focus is to ensure that our students grow their character, create beautiful work and achieve academic success. Therefore, we develop our curriculum so that learning is relevant, purposeful and authentic. This manifests into a number of key seams that we use as a focus for realising our design principles through our curriculum.

 

Our three rich seams at XP are: 

 

Protecting Our Planet – this is an existential threat so this is an imperative part of our curriculum. If we want our students to change the world, they need to save it first and they need the skills to lead this action. Our students make the knowledge they acquire around this seam powerful by actively making a difference to our world.

 

Standing for Social Justice – the world is filled with inequity and this is sustained by systems, structures and governance that protects the interests of the few and neglects the many. We uncover, confront and challenge inequities of race, gender, identity and class through our work and use the knowledge we acquire to affect social and cultural change. We want our students to be leaders of this change. 

 

Cultivating Diversity and Belonging – at XP we understand the power of crew and we know our community is stronger because of our differences. This is, therefore, a key seam that runs through many of our expeditions and case studies allowing our students to deepen their empathy and understanding of the value of difference and non-conformity. We strive for equality at XP by promoting equity so this is  reflected  in our curriculum design. 

Our curriculum is designed to support young people of all abilities. This is done by carefully crafted learning experiences that are adapted and tailored to meet the needs of students. Our curriculum is academic, challenging and designed to spark interest in our students by enabling them to work together to achieve both academically and socially. Our curriculum is three-dimensional: we are relentless in our pursuit of academic success, ensuring character growth and producing beautiful work. This ensures that students can become the best version of themselves. 

 

Our curriculum is carefully designed by teachers so that the level of challenge is high and learning experiences are rich. The expeditionary approach to our curriculum delivery ensures that teachers can carefully plan learning experiences that link to making the world a better place, starting with our own community. 

 

Our curriculum is the means by which all of our students achieve our common mission. The curriculum is designed so that students are ready and able to take their next steps confidently and successfully into either further education or the world of work. Our curriculum reinforces the idea of Crew and the central concept of everyone climbing the mountain together to a shared goal. 

 

Our curriculum is relevant and purposeful. Everything we do links to improving ourselves, our community and our wider world: 

 

  • Every expedition has purposeful fieldwork that links to learning back in the classroom. 
  • Every expedition uses experts to support, strengthen and provide authenticity to the learning process for students.
  • Every expedition has a product that connects to, and impacts positively on, the world.

 

Our curriculum is underpinned by a shared language that is easily accessible and recognisable. Our common language allows students to articulate their learning, understand how they learn and how this learning contributes to our positive culture. Language allows teachers and students to engage with our learning intent in a shared way.

 

Building on this is our three dimensional approach to curriculum delivery. The intention of the school is clear and unwavering: all of our students through their life at the school grow their character, produce beautiful work and thereby achieve academic success. 

Social Equity and the Curriculum

Our curriculum is designed to ensure social equity. Students, through the curriculum experience a breadth and range of experiences regardless of their social class, race, gender or any other factor.  

Crew

At the start of every day all secondary students spend 45 minutes in ‘Crew’. Crew is central to the positive culture at XP and places relationships – supporting students socially, emotionally, and academically at the heart of everything we do. 

 

At XPG school culture is planned for, developed, and sustained through practices that bring the community together, promote shared understandings, and encourage all community members to become crew, not passengers.  

 

Crew provides each student with a one-to-one relationship with an adult advisor (crew leader) at the school, as well as a consistent and ongoing small-scale peer community. Crew leaders monitor and support student progress, serve as the student’s advocate in difficult academic and social situations, and act as the primary contact point between parents and the school. 

 

We believe that if we get Crew right, we get everything right!

 

Our Crew Curriculum has been carefully crafted to provide Crew Leaders with a framework that enables them to engage students in rich and broad experiences:

 

  • Mindful Monday – an opportunity for students to be reflective as well as active.  To share their weekend experiences during the crew check-in and then conduct activities which either focus on giving back to the community through service learning (Crew Stewardship) or personal mindfulness. 
  • Tranquil Tuesday – a time used each week to support the development of lifelong readers through literature circles and structured discussions on a text or the opportunity for students to independently read.
  • Wise Wednesday –  time for students to develop the knowledge, skills and understanding they will need to manage their lives, now and in the future, and to keep them healthy, safe and prepare them for life and work in modern Britain. 
  • Thoughtful Thursday (Academic Crew) – time for students to reflect on their academic progress and character growth.
  • Flexible Friday – allows time to tend to and further develop crew. 

 

RSHE, PSHE and Citizenship is woven into our Crew Curriculum. 

 

The why of our expeditionary curriculum and how we deliver it?

We deliver our curriculum predominantly through cross disciplinary learning expeditions. These are standards based projects that are specifically designed to make connections between subjects and encourage deep and purposeful learning experiences. Expeditions are tightly structured through careful mapping of standards, skills and content and designed by teachers to ensure that all students:

 

  • make better than expected academic progress; 
  • produce beautiful work; 
  • grow their characters in readiness for the world;
  • are agents for improving their own community and the wider world 

What curriculum do we offer at XP Secondary Trust?

Expeditions are delivered through subjects that we group into a collective we call HUMAN (Humanities and Arts) and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths). 

 

The HUMAN collective includes the study of English Language, English Literature, Arts, History and wider humanities subjects such as RE, Geography and Citizenship.

 

The STEAM collective includes the study of Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Arts.

 

Expeditions are usually cross-curricular and include subjects from both HUMAN and STEAM combined. This ensures that students see connections between subjects and standards and thereby deepen their learning experiences

 

If expeditions aren’t combined, then they are delivered through either HUMAN or STEAM expeditions. This allows students to dive down into related subject areas like Maths, Science and Engineering to strengthen their understanding of key concepts and skills.

 

On occasion, expeditions can be delivered through a single subject in a ‘slice’. This often occurs when a specific skill or content needs to be explored and does not have a natural home in either a combined, HUMAN or STEAM expedition. 

 

Mathematics at XP is underpinned by a teaching for mastery approach and through learning expeditions. Expeditionary Maths is a key area for development to further strengthen how Maths can connect to and complement other subjects and to deepen learning. Our approach enables students to develop key skills in mathematical fluency, reasoning and problem solving whilst providing students the opportunity to apply their knowledge and understanding to investigate real-world issues. 

 

In addition, students study Spanish, the second most spoken language, and all of our students engage in Physical Education.

 

Spiritual, Moral and Cultural (SMSC) opportunities are mapped into expeditions through the content we cover as well as through fieldwork, experts and Presentations of Learning. SMSC is also delivered through our Crew curriculum.

 

Careers and work related learning is embedded into our expeditions through engaging and purposeful work with experts and fieldwork in industry, university and the community. 

 

In addition, this is provided through bespoke opportunities, like Work Experience and internship placements. These experiences are captured in our Equity Maps for each cohort so that staff can clearly see, track and plan for opportunities that are essential for providing our students with rich, diverse and equitable experiences. 

 

Expeditions at KS4 and GCSEs

Core GCSEs

All learning expeditions are created by our teaching staff and mapped to the standards of our Core GCSEs from Year 9. By January in Year 11, our expeditions will have covered all the standards for all Core GCSEs. From January until taking exams in May and June, the timetable for Year 11 will change into subject study groups to ensure all students are as best prepared for their exams as they can be. 

At KS4, we have selected eight Core GCSEs that are best-fit to learning expeditions. These are English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, Statistics, Science (Double Award), History and Art/Creative Studies. In addition, all students study Spanish at KS3. At KS4, students either continue their Spanish studies at GCSE or they complete another GCSE. 

 

Our expeditionary curriculum at Key Stage 4 is much broader than the eight Core GCSEs and offers other subject areas, such as Music, Computing, Design & Technology and Geography.

 

The Core GCSEs (including Spanish) cover the English Baccalaureate with the addition of Art/Creative Studies. Students who study another GCSE instead of Spanish do not complete the Baccalaureate but complete a ‘gateway’ qualification, meaning that students will be able to study any subject at Post 16. 

 

In addition to this, students have the option to study an optional GCSE as part of our LOOL (Leading Our Own Learning) programme where they can choose any other appropriate GCSE and study this with guided help, such as: Computing, PE, Triple Science, Music, an additional language, Design & Technology, Geography, Economics, Psychology, Drama etc.

 

Some students may have the capability, capacity and motivation to do more than one GCSE as part of their LOOL sessions. 

 

Provision for alternative GCSEs or other qualifications may be put in place if we deem that a student is better served this way.

Additional Curriculum Opportunities

As well as our core curriculum we offer students breadth and opportunity through other curriculum opportunities. A range of ‘enrichment’ activities are offered by our schools including: sporting activities, clubs and special interests.

Outdoor Expeditions and the Duke of Edinburgh Award

Establishing the idea of Crew starts on the first day that students attend XP Trust as Year 7 board a bus, travel to the Outward Bound Trust in Ullswater and explore the guiding question, ‘What is Crew?’ Here students bond and begin to understand the power of crew in realising our common mission. Here students begin to grow their character.

 

These activities continue through every other year group at XP Secondary Schools and in the first week back Year 8 experience ‘outdoor experiences to help them revisit the importance of crew through active, shared experiences where students have to help and rely on each other to succeed.

 

This continues into Y9 and Y10 as students embark on the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze and Silver Awards respectively. Our commitment to students engaging in such activities is central to the concept of Crew and when we get crew right we get everything right.  

 

Conclusion

Our curriculum is broad and, through learning expeditions, is designed to be flexible, responsive and exciting. This does not mean we compromise on powerful disciplinary standards and knowledge but that we integrate, connect and immerse our subjects in academically rigorous learning experiences that enable them not only to be ready for their next steps as learners but also as responsible, caring and critical agents for positive social change in their own lives, the lives of others in their community and the wider world. 

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