CURRICULUM 

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CURRICULUM OVERVIEW

At Manchester Communication Academy, we believe in the transformative power of knowledge and learning in tackling social inequality and providing our students with the best possible chance of success. Our mantra of ‘mitigating the impact of social injustice’ is at the heart of everything we do at MCA and this philosophy is evident in our highly engaging and appropriately-pitched curriculum.  In developing a curriculum offer which provides the best opportunities for our students to succeed irrespective of their starting point, our unique and bespoke curriculum at MCA provides students with the opportunities to be prepared for their future, to uncover and nurture their talents and to excel in traditional subjects that provide them with equitable opportunities for further study and success. We firmly believe in striving for excellence for all and believe our curriculum is broad and balanced and superbly matched to our context, enabling social mobility and giving students with all the knowledge they will need to carve out a successful future.

 

In addition to the above, at Manchester Communication Academy, we offer a purposeful, academically rich and coherently sequenced curriculum which leads to the development of deep subject knowledge, in a broad range of subjects, across both KS3 and KS4. Our curriculum is planned and sequenced so that new knowledge is built on what has been taught before as students work towards defined milestones, called threshold concepts, at the end of each academic year or educational phase. Students are supported in developing rich interconnected webs of knowledge (schemas) and the cultural capital they need to succeed in life. Our curriculum is designed to allow students to acquire and retain the core knowledge in each subject through careful planning, sequencing and revisiting of threshold concepts.

The curriculum is planned as a five-year learning journey with different bespoke routes chosen by students depending on their interest level on subject areas: all students at MCA study the full, universal curriculum offer. We believe that this model enables us to provide a strong foundation through enhanced curriculum time in all areas at KS3 while still providing them with personalisation and choice for their GCSEs, inclusive of some KS4 options chosen early in Year Eight and Year Nine respectively.

In order to achieve a successfully sequenced curriculum, we have a clear picture of the overall provision map for each subject, year by year, in the form of a bespoke learning journey and curriculum map which is supplemented by centralised resources which are differentiated by highly-skilled teaching practitioners, depending upon the need of the students they teach. Threshold concepts are identified in each subject which provide the foundations for learning and seek to provide opportunities for coherence and collaboration between subjects where possible and necessary.  At MCA, we use the knowledge gained from our Research School status to ensure we are well-versed in metacognitive strategies to ensure students have an understanding of how they learn and can evaluate the success of their own learning. We readily recognise that a rich and broad curriculum offer has metacognitive impact on all students and as a result, aim to deliver all key knowledge in a way that supports a change in long term memory to develop a secure memory store whilst avoiding avoid cognitive overload and resulting in resilient students who are hungry for success.

In regards to the formation of the timetable, at MCA, we have introduced a four lesson per day structure (three periods on Friday) with each timetabled session lasting one hour and fifteen minutes Monday-Thursday and one hour and ten minutes on a Friday. All students are taught in curriculum areas at the same time with their year group to allow for flexibility of movement depending on ability and midyear performance. In addition to the above, students have access to a weekly Aspire curriculum session which covers a plethora of educational aspects across the five year learning journey, complimented by a daily pastoral period spent with their form and facilitated by their form tutor. 

 

It is our firm belief that all children deserve the very best education in order to fulfil their potential: we believe that academic success, complemented with life-enriching experiences through our extensive ESA offer, will prepare them for success now and in the future and we firmly believe our bespoke curriculum offer enables this vision to occur. In addition to the rich and varied universal curriculum offer at MCA, we offer our students extra-curricular opportunities to engage in twice per week which enriches their cultural capital and builds on our carefully crafted universal curriculum offer: a suitably balanced blend of both academic and culturally enriching ESAs ensure both academic and enrichment opportunities supplement our strong curriculum offer and ensure students continually improve. As aforementioned and in order to taste success and excel in creative arts and health and well-being subjects, students have the opportunity to choose options at the end of Year Eight and also Year Nine, with terminal exams occurring for those option groups at the end of Years Ten and Eleven respectively. This curriculum strategy is unique to MCA and has proven very successful, enabling students to broaden their option range and taste success prior to their terminal examinations at the end of Year Eleven for the rest of the subjects studied in KS4.

For further information on the curriculum, please select an area from the drop down curriculum menu.

 

Click here to view the curriculum intent

ASSESSMENT OVERVIEW

At Manchester Communication Academy we take the planning and formation of our assessment strategy seriously and place student performance and well-being at the heart of all decisions. In regards to KS3, we have crafted a richly knowledge-led curriculum that will not only allow them to learn the essential knowledge across a range of subjects but enable them to build on this knowledge in the future and use it to make sense of the world around them. Formal, summative assessments, written in-house at MCA, are crafted in a granular form and are strategically placed across terms one, two and three to accurately assess students’ acquisition and application of the knowledge delivered on the learning journey. This is in addition to regular formative, in-class moments of assessment which test acquisition and application at the point of teaching. In balancing both summative and formative approaches to assessment, we are able to accurately assess student performance and continually evaluative our curriculum offer and ensure it is responsive to students’ needs.  As a result of the hybrid between summative and formative approaches, it is made clear to students how they have performed in their assessment (raw score,) how this correlates to the average performance of their classmates and year group and more importantly, ensures they have a clear understanding of the next steps needed in order to improve. Post assessments, our parents are sent a report three times per year which outlines their child’s performance and allows them to compare their academic performance across all subjects.

Due to our blended approach to the curriculum with students accessing Creative Arts and Health and Well-being subjects at the start of Year Nine, the assessment strategy is as above for this year group, with the addition of current performance and predictions for those subjects which they will complete at the end of Year Ten. When they move into Year Ten, all assessment data converts to a classical approach to Key Stage Four with students completing termly summative assessments in all of their subjects which gives students and parents a clear understanding of their current and predicted performance.

STUDENTS WILL HAVE EQUITABLE OPPORTUNITIES FOR SUCCESS

  • All students have the opportunity to follow an E-baccalaureate pathway as well as studying triple science

  • Students are given additional time in Year 11 to dedicate to core subjects as a result of early entry to creative examinations in Year 10

  • Subject areas provide differentiated curriculums to accelerate or fill knowledge gaps where appropriate. For example, English provide a vocabulary rich curriculum underpinned by some Philosophy for Children approaches for lowest attaining Year 7 students yet provide more challenging texts as part of the Accelerated curriculum  

  • Every child has access to free music tuition in yr 7 and 8

  • A study support offer as part of the ESA curriculum ensures students receive targeted intervention to fill knowledge gaps and develop key skills

STUDENTS WILL BE PREPARED FOR TOMORROW

  • Students are exposed to a high level of digital literacy. This comes through subjects such as computing, 3D design but also through the structure of learning in English lessons where students navigate through podcasts to secure knowledge and understanding

  • The curriculum has a huge focus on career pathways with dedicated curriculum time in each year group.

  •  Students are immersed in a text rich curriculum to close the vocabulary gap and ensure high levels of literacy for future success

  • The subjects students study serve the needs of the local labour markets. For example, community languages, computer science, engineering

  • Students act as peer readers to younger students developing literacy and leadership skills

  • Year 7 students who arrive below age related expectations engage with Accelerated Reader as part of their Year 7 English curriculum

  • Some students follow a more bespoke curriculum, gaining experience and qualifications through alternative providers

STUDENTS WILL EXPERIENCE THE IMPORTANCE OF CREATIVITY AND INDIVIDUALITY

  • The MCA curriculum goes beyond the National Curriculum and subject specifications to ensure that the needs of our students and context are met. For example, students have the opportunity to gain qualifications in community languages and explore qualifications that are suited to their talents, for example in singing.

  • Subject selections or option choices are made in a phased approach starting with subjects being studied in the open unit at the end of year 8 to commence in year 9. Two of these subjects are completed in year 10 which allows additional time to study E-Baccalaureate subjects in year 11. This is not to the detriment of the students who perform exceptionally well in those subjects and the students still have time in creative and health subjects within year 11 to maintain a varied curriculum programme. The next phase of option choices are made at the end of year 9 to commence in year 10 and allow the students to select their MfL, humanities and science subjects

  • Students experience drop down days to delve into subject content in a more creative and expressive ay. For example a ‘Who Dunnit Day’ to develop questioning, oracy and written communication and a ‘Darwin Day’ to explore knowledge linked to evolutionary theory

  • A rich ESA offer enables all students to explore individual interests such as astronomy or drumming

STUDENTS WILL BE PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY RESILIENT

  • The curriculum is underpinned by our MCA values, SMSC and a health curriculum to ensure that students grow to exceed their personal, academic and creative potential.

  • Dedicated time is given to a health and well-being curriculum every week

  • Through house time, students are equipped with strategies to support their mental health and well-being

  • Students have opportunities to be health ambassadors and student leaders