2. Student skills, curriculum and pedagogy
All students are systematically taught the competencies that enable high performance and they understand their significance.
Since the initial introduction of ACPs and VAAs into CCS pedagogy, we have observed a process which began with teachers drip-feeding the ACPs, followed by the VAAs. Development towards full, seamless integration has been steady and measured to ensure that all staff understand the importance of helping students develop as high performing learners; thus, resulting in more independent learners. Staff supported each other through the teachmeet process – where teachers who had demonstrated their own competence in delivering HPL could lead other staff and help to share ideas for lessons. We also trained staff to review their formative assessment practice and used the Assessment Essential programme – of which the key ideas match HPL philosophy (2, 39). Teachers now focus explicitly on, not only curriculum content, but the ACPs and VAAs which enable content to be learnt in the most effective ways (16, 40, 41). The EYFS curriculum has been re-written to embed HPL seamlessly to the new framework – this level of detail is being replicated across the school (28, 28a).
HPL has been integrated into all aspects of school life: tutor time session, remote learning, assemblies, House activities, PSHE, HPL group project work, House activity e.g., curriculum areas, extra-curricular. (17, 18, 42) Tutor time (including transition) sessions provided during ‘bubble’ era meant that students were directed towards developing and reflecting on ACPs and VAAs within pastoral contexts – this included using HPL as a vehicle for supporting students’ well-being during the pandemic and in school. (42a, 42b, 42c, 42d HPL student resources – tutor time activities.) Year 6 transition day and summer school provided an early introduction to HPL for students not from our primary phase. (43, 43a, 43b, 43c, 43d, 43e, 43f, 43g, 43h, 43i).
Our rewards system is based around the VAAs to focus students on the behaviours and attitudes that underpin high performance and positively reinforce their development. (7)
Our HPL ambassadors can articulate how HPL is embedded in their learning and how it helps them. They are clear that HPL is to help them understand the purpose of learning and to encourage them to engage with their learning fully. (16b, 26c).
The majority of students demonstrate the advanced competencies that enable high performance – this number is increasing year on year.
Within the primary phase numbers of students reaching age related expectations in Reading, Writing and Maths at Key Stage 2 have been consistently high over time up to 2019 (48a) and numbers reaching the higher standard demonstrate high performance by a significant number of students. The cancelling of KS2 assessments in 2020 and 2021 means that externally validated data is not available for these years. The last two years’ GCSE and A level results have been difficult to analyse in relation to the impact HPL has had on results. However, it is clear that the improvement in results from 2019 and 2020 differ, in part, because we had helped students to develop resilience and independence in the interim. The 2020 cohort were undoubtedly far more motivated than the 2019 cohort. This can be seen in the dramatically reduced number of appeals (47) and the increase in percentage of higher grades achieved and reduction in lower grades (48).
Furthermore, we can evidence improvements in student engagement during the two national lockdowns. Having built on the analysis we did on students access their learning in March 2020, we were able to help students develop VAAs and ACPs as tools to help them engage in live lessons, when there was rapid improvement in use of digital technologies and learning curriculum content – as well as supporting well-being as a means further to encourage HPL development. (50, 50a, 50b, 50c)
Pedagogy is student focused: students are developing expertise, leading their own learning and actively engaging with feedback to improve their performance.
Most departments are providing opportunities for students to have ownership of some aspects of their learning. For example, English end of year project-based task in KS3 are designed to give students freedom to show their learning for the year, linking key curriculum content over a large period of time and developing big picture thinking. (33, 51 Mid-term plans.) In general, students across faculties/phases are being given more opportunities to develop the pillar of enquiry-based learning and teachers have reported that learning outcomes have improved as students are stretched and challenged (54, 54a).
In KS5, student led learning is exemplified in Non-Exam Assessments, for example English language and literature A level coursework is completely student led (52 e.g., open choice coursework in English language and literature). Opportunities such as, extended project also allow for student led analysis/ creativity/
evolutionary thinking … (52a Example of student A level work.)
Students in KS2 were involved in the design of the HPL characters – giving them a chance to invest fully. This took the form of a competition to design the animals and characters. (25).
All students have access to high-quality teaching and a demanding curriculum that offers breadth and depth, is enquire-led, and links with the enrichment offer.
We have revisited our HPL ethos at every training opportunity and have moved towards an enquiry based learning approach (55). Thus, the quality of provision was identified by Ofsted in January 2020 as having strengths in Early Years Provision – graded ‘outstanding’ (56). We were also described as a good and improving school. Our all-through curriculum demonstrates HPL focus at each phase. (51, 33) English, humanities and PE were also highlighted as key strengths in terms of curriculum design – due to cohesion, sequencing and consistency of delivery as seen throughout Ofsted. (56, 57) English and PE are led by faculty leaders who were instrumental in embracing and developing our HPL ethos.
The pandemic affected the opportunities for extra-curricular. However, since returning in Sept 2021, student participation in PE and Performing Arts has been extremely high - showing how our students have demonstrated confidence, empathy, risk-taking. (58) Over 150 students auditioned for a part in the school productions – the most ever and attendance to PE clubs has also been at its highest level ever.
Summer school activities allowed students to experience a vast range of activities which were designed to encourage collaboration, confidence and resilience. External companies with specific knowledge, skill and resources invite in to enrich the provision. Enquiry based learning at the heart of all activities (53b, 53d, 53e).
We continually make opportunities for the development, assessment and practising of the VAAs and ACPs in a number of learning contexts.
The HPL lens is used in all contexts to ensure students are regularly receiving opportunities for ACP and VAA development: lessons, tutor times, extra-curricular, TED, Extended Project, House councils, home guidance, productions. (7, 11, 17, 18, 18a, 23, 28a, 36, 42, 43d, 46, 62)
All members of the school community are committed to HPL as evidenced in our appraisal objectives (14, 27, 27a), this ensures that HPL will be an ongoing focus for the whole school and all the individuals within in (24, 26a, 27, 27a, 27b, 31).