Curriculum Statement

The curriculum at The Cooper School is exemplified by our mission statement ‘Dream big, work hard, be kind’. We separate our INTENT into aims for the school and objectives for the students in the following areas and these are the backbone of our curriculum philosophy at TCS:

Curricular aims for the school:

  • To provide a diverse, broad and balanced curriculum accessible to all, where appropriate

  • To provide a safe, healthy, stimulating environment for learning

  • To encourage students to understand the diversity of their world and treat different ideas and perspectives with respect

  • To provide innovative and varied teaching methods to stimulate students’ desire for learning

  • To provide an ethos of support, challenge and encouragement to succeed in an inclusive environment

  • To prepare students for their future choices, helping them to become active and self-sufficient citizens

  • To provide opportunities for students to regularly build and reflect upon their personal development and their development of resilience and independence

Curricular objectives for students:

  • To develop enquiring minds and a spirit of curiosity

  • To strive for excellence in all they do

  • To become highly motivated lifelong learners and make good, well informed decisions about future choices and their moral decisions

  • To achieve the highest possible standards in all curriculum areas

  • To be able to work as a team and independently

  • To care for themselves, each other and their community with respect

  • To appreciate the diversity of the world that they inhabit and accept the different perspectives that they will encounter

Curricular objectives for students:

  • To develop enquiring minds and a spirit of curiosity

  • To strive for excellence in all they do

  • To become highly motivated lifelong learners and make good, well informed decisions about future choices and their moral decisions

  • To achieve the highest possible standards in all curriculum areas

  • To be able to work as a team and independently

  • To care for themselves, each other and their community with respect

  • To appreciate the diversity of the world that they inhabit and accept the different perspectives that they will encounter

What is distinctive about TCS T+L?

The Cooper Way: ‘Dream Big, Work Hard, Be KInd’ are part of the cultural routines of Cooper lessons. This means that the following are encouraged by staff in everyday lessons:

What are the routines of TCS lessons? The Core Expectations

  1. Clear learning intentions, which may be established by a question, always communicated and explored to students. Students should be aware of the bigger picture with regards to their learning

2. Appropriate, ambitious criteria (Gold/Silver/Bronze) used. These should be clearly explained to students and understanding checked. They should not limit students challenge to ‘bronze’ or ‘silver’ where that is not appropriate to the student

3. Challenge and pace appropriate to students, enabling high expectations of our learners

  • Majority of students’ time in class is spent learning

  • Be flexible with timing, tasks should depend on student progress

  • Questions should be asked by students at some point, pertinent to their learning

  • On a regular basis students have opportunity to demonstrate learning

  • Students will move incrementally through Blooms/Bands/Exam criteria within the hour (could be evidenced in books/ student responses)

  • When students are discussing, there is teacher intervention to address misconceptions/stretch understanding

4. Progress checks that review students’ depth of understanding during a lesson and in a plenary, where students should be given the opportunity to reflect on their learning.

5. Personal Development

  • Encourage students to respect each other’s right to learn in a community of mutual respect and kindness in our community

  • Foster the need of self-discipline needed to always show pride in work, to be punctual and to be equipped properly

  • Create a culture in which working hard is understood as a necessity

  • Encourage all students to participate in appropriate discussion and feedback, taking risks where necessary, showing resilience in changing tact if needed

6. Marking and feedback: students should know what they should have achieved and how to improve through response tasks. Assessment books/folders or sections of folders should be available as much as possible for students to be reminded of their progress and always shown to observers. It must be clear to see in students’ books what progress they have made over time

Curriculum implementation and organisation

At TCS, the Key Stages are as follows:

  • Key Stage 3: Years 7-8;

  • Key Stage 4: Years 9-11;

  • Key Stage 5: Years 12-13

Curriculum hours per fortnight

Key Stage 4

All KS5 subjects are given 5 teaching hours per week. The only exception is Core Maths which is an AS subject only and is granted 3 hours of teaching per week. A small number of P16 students who resit Maths and English are supported through teaching from Maths and English teachers.

Key Stage 3 Statement (Intent and Implementation)

Intent: to develop the knowledge and skills needed to prepare students for key stage 4 whilst providing a curriculum that is appropriate, challenging and broad

Implementation: Key Stage 3 builds and develops knowledge and skills towards a 3 year Key Stage 4 allowing for increasing depth and mastery of learning over 5 years, rather than an approach which would see the key stages as innately separate entities. Skills and knowledge development in Key Stage 3 will be augmented and enriched in Key Stage 4, as befits the increasing maturity of our students.

Students are assessed on entry and from these starting points we build our expectations of their progress, tracking them through The Cooper School Bands through assessment points which are set by each subject area. In year 8 students receive personalised guidance to make appropriate choices for Key Stage 4 based on their attitude, performance and interests.

Key Stage 4 and 5 Statements (Intent and Implementation)

Intent: to offer students breath of choice to suit their needs, interests and skills without narrowing the curriculum; to minimise Year 11 examination stress for students in order to support their mental well being; to offer rich and specialised learning at key stage 5 in order to prepare students for ambitious future choices

Key Stage 4 Implementation: Our ambitious curriculum is intended to respond to the needs of our students in the local context by providing richness, choice and depth; it allows students to take up to 4 GCSEs in Year 10 (2 Full course, 2 short course), enabling them to minimise their exam stress and support their mental well-being through focussing on Core subjects and 2 options in Year 11. The additional time given in Years 9 and 10 means that students are given sufficient ‘Guided Learning Hours’ in those subjects so students are not disadvantaged and may complete deep learning of these subjects, rather than merely chasing exam grades. Whilst some students study the EBACC and it is appropriate that they do so, not all of our learners benefit from this narrowing of the curriculum; our curriculum enables them to retain breadth and personal choice, which engages our learners more effectively across a broadly prescribed national offer.

We know our students well enough to know that cutting options would restrict student personal choice which would be detrimental to their learning and engagement with the school curriculum and their future choices. The GCSE options provide students with a broad enough knowledge to take up their places on A Level courses, apprenticeships and vocational courses at our school and elsewhere. The school provides excellent guidance and support for students to make appropriate choices about post KS4 study, apprenticeships or work through a variety of personalised interventions, parents’ evenings, assemblies and information given.

Key Stage 5 curriculum implementation: Our Key Stage 5 curriculum is personalised to the aspirations and needs of our students, while mostly A Level based, it has been modified to reflect students’ preferences for particular A Level courses relevant to their chosen career paths and the introduction of BTEC courses, EPQ and the Core Maths qualification has provided our students with a broader range of accessible but worthy options to allow them to develop key skills and knowledge in preparation for their chosen destinations. Students are able to make appropriate choices for their post-school future through the guidance given to them by the 6th form team and the personal development curriculum which enables them to make independent, mature choices for themselves.

Development of personal character, resilience and motivation

Intent: to equip students with the skills for life-long learning; to develop the personal character, resilience and motivation of students to become effective citizens who contribute positively to the values of the UK and the communities in which they live

A full character-based developmental programme exists and this is explicitly reinforced through form time activities in all year groups in Years 7-13. These enable students to discover and develop their character and sense of self so that they develop into lifelong reflective and independent learners. PHSE, careers advice and social action projects also form a large part of the development of each individual

Our focus in Y7-9 8 is on depth of knowledge and understanding. Our overarching philosophy is one which enables students to build learning skills specifically in subject areas supported by our overarching values at TCS of character, motivation, resilience, self-discipline, respect and community spirit. These values are discussed weekly with students with their form tutors and at the heart of these discussions are students discovering who they are whilst also supporting parts of our PSHE curriculum in mental wellbeing and good health.

We are mindful however that exam literacy supports students’ learning as they begin to take public examinations. We begin this work with them in Year 9, a pivotal year for our learners, as we further expand on our school values by developing their mindset in terms of vision, effort, systems, practice and attitude (VESPA). This focus on VESPA is continued into KS5 as our students engage with character based and transition resources in form times, assemblies and in extra-curricular opportunities such as DofE and work experience.

Impact of the curriculum: how does it prepare students for their next stages?

KS3 Impact: Our year 7 and 8 curriculum prepares students in knowledge and skill development for their future courses. Year 9 is a pivotal time in many subjects, where a transition is made between skills which are necessary for GCSE and those which are acquired during Key stage 3, enabling a natural transition between the key stages. Internal assessments allow us to know our students’ strengths and weaknesses and guide them to improve and chose appropriate options in year 9

KS4 Impact: Our successful examination results and destination data for students from the end of Key Stage 4 show all of our students have been in sustained education, employment or training, always above the national average for each cohort. The majority of our students remain at TCS for Post 16 studies, where their resilience, initiative and motivation compare very favourably with students who join TCS for Post 16 studies from other schools. Students also receive support preparing them specifically for life after Key Stage 4 to enable them to make informed choices and be prepared for each of their pathways, be they school-based, college-based or employment-based.

KS5 Impact: Our excellent ALPS data and destination data for the end of P16 suggest that our curriculum is suitable for preparing students well to take their places on university courses, apprenticeships and employment. The percentage of our students attending top third universities and staying in employment or education for at least two terms after level 3 study is consistently higher than both the national and local averages.