OUR KS3 PRINCIPLES
At Tapton we are committed to a three year Key Stage 3 that ensures we have time to create confident and independent learners. When students join us in Year 7 they begin a five year journey to GCSE success, with each year having its own distinct identity. Our curriculum is broad, balanced and inclusive. We establish a firm foundation to build on as students gather the skills, knowledge and understanding they need to thrive in an education system that is increasingly linear and based on written examinations.
Key Stage 3 is unique as it is liberated from external exams. We use this freedom to innovate and design a curriculum that captures the imagination of all our students and fosters enjoyment and enthusiasm for a wide range of subjects. Our students study Science, Computer Science, Music, Drama, Art, PSHEE, Physical Education, History, Geography, Religious Education, Modern Foreign Languages, Design Technology and Food. Reading, writing, communication and Mathematics are at the core of the curriculum and many interventions are centred around these areas as they allow us to communicate effectively, make decisions and solve problems.
We do more than this. We build cultural capital and citizens prepared for the demands of life in the 21st century. Our learning extends beyond the classroom. We actively encourage students to take part in a wide range of enrichment opportunities across the curriculum from STEM to art, music to sport - there is something for everyone. Throughout the whole curriculum and especially in form time, PSHEE and our programmes of student leadership, we instil our ethos of ‘Valuing Everyone, Caring for Each Other and Achieving Excellence.’ The role of the form tutor is central to this and enables the building of secure and lasting relationships. Careers, employability skills and pathways to success are emphasised from day one. A culture of aspiration permeates everything we do.
We have high expectations and promote a growth mindset. Through learner levels we teach resilience, resourcefulness, reciprocity, respect and reflectiveness. We use our 1-9 assessment scale at Key Stage 3 to map a clear journey to GCSE success. We build in challenge, aspiration and clarity so students can see their own clear route to success. Positive, critical and formative feedback ensures students understand the next steps needed in order to make progress and achieve highly.
Three tracking points in each year give teachers the opportunity to communicate formally with parents and students on current progress. These also allow the Assistant Headteacher responsible for Key Stage 3 to:
- Identify students causing concern,
- Produce a clear and digestible overview of progress, levels of independence and behaviour for staff,
- Meet with the Behaviour and Safety team and the Leader of Learning Support to put appropriate and well informed interventions in place,
- Celebrate endeavour, hard work and moving forward.
Year 7 at Tapton focuses on ensuring all students experience a smooth transition to secondary school. This process begins in Year 6 and continues throughout Year 7. In the first term we have a ‘Homework Matters’ morning to introduce our positive, rewards based approach to homework in the first term and offer advice on how to get organised. The ‘Freshers’ Fair’ gives students the chance to see all the different opportunities for learning outside lessons at Tapton. Our ‘Team Build’ event for all Y7s allows them to bond with their form and create lasting relationships. Baseline assessments also take place during the first half term to give us a clear indication of the starting points of all learners. Y7s are also taught in forms for Geography, History, Drama, Computer Science, PSHE, RE and PE. This allows close bonds to be made within forms during the year.
For parents and carers there are two opportunities to meet form tutors in the first term – the first has a pastoral focus and the second has an academic focus on progress made so far.
All students study one language in their first year at Tapton in order to create a firm foundation from which to build on. Towards the end of the year students make guided choices as they decide whether to continue with just one language or build on their experience by taking on the challenge of studying two languages.
Building on their first guided choice for languages, students take the opportunity to choose two out of the three Design Technology subjects we offer to specialise in as they progress through the key stage.
In January, at the mid-way point of the key stage we have an assessment week to provide us with a reliable and valid assessment of ability in each subject. This also allows students to get used to the routine of examinations.
In the summer term the Theme Park Project begins which embeds our core values of reciprocity and respect. Students get to work in small groups to cost, design and promote their own theme park. Successful teams compete to win a top prize at the end of the year.
Our staged approach to prepare students for GCSE examinations continues in Y9 as students begin to study GCSE Science and Religious Studies. There is an assessment week in December which gives students the chance to revise for and carry out a full timetable of exams in the hall and learn from this formative experience.
This feeds into our Options process in January as it helps students work out what are the best subjects for them to focus on at GCSE. It also gives us a valid assessment of the grade each student is working towards at this point in their educational journey and guides them towards a particular pathway at GCSE. Both pathways lead to success and further education, but one contains smaller group sizes and allows more time to study GCSE English and Maths.
Following the Options process we give students the chance to work towards their Bronze Arts award. Arts Award is a unique qualification that supports students to grow as artists, inspiring them to connect with and take part in the wider arts world through taking challenges in an art form - from fashion to digital art, stage make-up to singing. The Arts award allows our students to take part in the wider arts world and allows them to become independent learners whilst exploring different art forms, and also encourages students to take on more responsibility for their own learning.
Finally, we have a Key Stage 3 Celebration Evening in July. This ceremony recognises the achievements and improvement students have made during year nine and marks the end of the key stage.