At Ashcroft Technology Academy (ATA) our staff are committed to ensuring that all of our students are prepared for working life in 21st century Britain. Through our behaviour and attendance policies, our well-planned, inclusive curriculum (with an emphasis on Maths and Science in a technology rich environment), a culture of ambition and hard work, and a careers programme that engages students from Year 7, we enable our students to learn effectively, to set and work towards ambitious goals and to appreciate the correlation that exists between excellent attendance, excellent behaviour, hard work, achievement and a successful career.
With this in mind, we place great importance on excellent attendance, excellent behaviour, good manners, hard work and respect because we believe that good conduct forms the foundation of a safe, healthy and engaging learning environment in which students can give of their best at all times.
In order to provide our students with the most appropriate learning experience, our subject leaders, skilled in their respective disciplines and supported by teams of well-qualified subject specialists, have the necessary expertise and experience with which to determine the skills and knowledge students require at each stage of their learning. Curriculum Managers lead the design of coherent schemes of work and assessments and they direct the planning of individual lessons, in sequence, that enable students to acquire new knowledge, built on solid foundations, and develop the skills present in successful learners. This is an evolutionary process. The curriculum in each subject area is under constant review and changes are made in line with the latest educational research which is delivered through our bi-weekly professional development programme and subject-specific professional development during departmental weekly meetings.
The role that homework plays in the learning process cannot be ignored. It develops independence, resilience, and it allows students to practise different learning strategies and techniques and to consolidate their learning in a quiet space in their own time. With set hours per week in each subject at each Key Stage, students necessarily experience more of the curriculum and develop the skills present in successful learners. Independent school ‘prep’ style homework clubs and study hall, along with our evening revision activities, subject-based ‘power hours’, are made available to students who perhaps don’t have access to a quiet space at home or who require extra subject support. Inclusive study support is also available in SEND Homework Clubs, as well as workshops that support students who have English as an additional language.
The curriculum at ATA reflects the Department for Education’s aim of students studying a strong academic programme (EBACC) that will give them access to the best Sixth Forms, universities and apprenticeship providers. We take pride in the fact that all of our students, regardless of their ability or background, receive the same unrestricted and broad curriculum, with the support to help them learn at their own pace or when they experience difficulties. This, we believe, enables our students to achieve true social mobility. All students have equal access to Religious Education, Citizenship and Personal, Social and Health Education and a robust assembly programme through which we develop the desire to achieve, resilience and cooperation and an unrelenting focus on literacy, numeracy and oracy. We also offer experiential learning to all our students through our rich and diverse extra-curricular programme, with regular clubs that operate before, during and after the school day, events, productions, Duke of Edinburgh and local and international visits and journeys.
English and Mathematics are crucial to the life chances of young people. If not mastered, they are a barrier to progress in other subjects and further education, training or the world of work. Consequently, we prioritise these subjects from Year 7 to Year 11. Literacy and problem solving are embedded into our English and Maths curricula across all Key Stages, providing all our students with opportunities to develop their vocabulary and imagination and to form strong links between concepts.
Science and Technology are also important in our modern 21st Century Britain. An expertise in Science enables the majority of our students to pursue the post 16 programmes they wish to follow. In our 6th Form, Maths and Sciences are our most popular subjects, with many students keen to pursue qualifications in Medicine and in Engineering at university. Through the Science and STEAM super-curricular programmes, annual events such as 6th Form Speed Networking and the 6th Form STEAM Ambassadors Programme facilitate informative careers guidance opportunities, playing a vital role in our students making informed choices when selecting their degree and career pathways, particularly in the STEM industries.
In a multi-cultural Britain, especially at this time politically, we believe that all students should study a language from Year 7 to Year 11. In addition to French, we offer a second modern language to students selecting their GCSE options. Students who speak a different language at home are encouraged to sit the GCSE and A2 exams in that language.
Our CPSHE programme deals with social and personal issues, rights and responsibilities and British values. It also develops confidence, public speaking and it encourages students to ‘break glass ceilings’ created by gender, class, ethnicity, disability and poverty.
Our Physical Education programme of study exposes students to a wide range of sports and physical activities. There is an emphasis on physical literacy, physical fitness (which is an important part of developing resilience and a healthy lifestyle), team work and competition (both of which are developed further by our house system), and a life-long enjoyment of sport or a health, active lifestyle. Extra-curricular clubs and fixtures allow students to make more progress in their chosen sports.
The Arts are an important part of life and we are keen that all students experience and are encouraged to develop skills and knowledge in this area and also instil in them a love, respect and life-long interest in the Arts. The Arts are celebrated throughout the academic year in Arts week, productions and exhibitions and all students study Art, Music and Drama at Key Stage 3. Dance is also taught via an extra-curricular club.
Key Stage 3 offers Year 7 and 8 students the opportunities to develop knowledge and skills in a broad range of subjects. Extra school days in the academic year and the extended school day allow the flexibility to offer a broad and balanced curriculum. In addition to timetabled lessons, the Academy offers a strong STEAM programme, Performing Arts programme and Fitness and Sport programme outside of lesson time.
ATA believes, and student voice confirms, that during Year 8 students are at a stage where they are able to make informed choices and are able to specialise, to an extent, and devote more time to the subjects they particularly enjoy and wish to pursue at a higher level.
Key Stage 4 runs from Year 9 to Year 11. All students are entitled to study English Language, English Literature, Mathematics (with the option of Further and Additional Mathematics for our most-able students), Combined Science (with the option of Triple Science for our most-able students), French, Geography or History and Religious Studies or Citizenship. In addition to core EBACC subjects, students are given the opportunity to study two further subjects. Again, extra school days in the academic year and the extended school day provides the flexibility to offer a broad and balanced curriculum. This means that students have access to 11 subjects, to study hall, to subject power hours and to the full range of extra-curricular activities on offer. As a result of this, students continue to have access to subjects such as Art, Computing, Drama, Design Technology and Music, even if they choose not to study these subjects at GCSE.
At Key Stage 5, students are able to choose 4 AS subjects, therefore maintaining a breadth they would not enjoy in many local 6th Forms, or the International Baccalaureate, a qualification, which is, in and of itself, a broad and highly-regarded qualification, offered mainly in the independent sector. In addition to the A Level and IB requirements, all Sixth Form students are provided with weekly comprehensive guidance on UCAS preparation, career pathways, and their own personal and academic development, including independent study skills. Furthermore, our extensive super curricular programme in the 6th Form provides the opportunities and the encouragement to our students to apply to the best universities. This includes, the opportunity to complete an Extended Project Qualification and to participate in our support programme for aspiring Oxbridge candidates and Medics.