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  • Our Curriculum

    At Phoenix Academy we place the curriculum at the heart of school life. It drives all other decisions that we make and is the best means we have of demonstrating as a school what we believe in and what we stand for.

    In essence our curriculum is designed to ensure that all pupils at Phoenix acquire knowledge that they cannot learn at home and that the specified curriculum knowledge is based on the most coherent and tested ways of conceptualising the world that we have. So at Phoenix Academy we explicitly teach a rich foundation of subject-specific and broader cultural knowledge that enables us to prioritise depth through breadth; so that pupils learn to master control of the English language through subject-specific teaching.

    Design principles:

    1. Focus on the core underlying disciplinary or threshold concepts within each subject that give structure and meaning to the domain-specific knowledge.
    2. Acknowledge that critical thinking is not a set of skills and strategies that can be directly taught, practiced and applied to any topic.
    3. Acknowledge that students need deep knowledge of a subject in order to think creatively or critically about it.
    4. Acknowledge that to “think like a scientist,” a student must know the facts, concepts and procedures that a scientist knows and must see the teacher as more knowledgeable expert.
    5. Prove that almost all students should be able to learn almost all material in a standard school curriculum.
    6. Acknowledge that if students have not learned material early in a curriculum, they will have more difficulty with material later in the curriculum.
    7. Ensure that that the core concepts of a subject discipline that organise the knowledge of experts also organises teaching.

    To instruct someone... is not a matter of getting him to commit results to mind. Rather, it is to teach him to participate in the process that makes possible the establishment of knowledge. We teach a subject not to produce little living libraries on that subject, but rather to get a student to think mathematically for himself, to consider matters as an historian does, to take part in the process of knowledge-getting. Knowing is a process not a product.” (J. Bruner, 1960)


    In Key Stage 3, we use the Exploring Science: Working Scientifically programme to help our students to develop the knowledge of and skills in biology, chemistry and physics that they need to start to think scientifically. 

    In Year 7, students study:

    • The particle model
    • Cells, tissues, organs and systems
    • Energy and changes
    • Muscles and bones
    • Acids and bases
    • Electricity
    • Sexual reproduction in animals
    • Mixtures and separation
    • Forces
    • Atoms, elements and compounds
    • Ecosystems
    • Sound

    In Year 8, students study:  

    • Earth and space
    • Light
    • The periodic table (atoms, elements and compounds)
    • Food and digestion
    • Combustion
    • Rocks
    • Breathing and respiration
    • Fluids
    • Energy transfers
    • Unicellular organisms
    • Sexual reproduction in plants
    • Metals and their uses

    In Year 9, students study:   

    • Genetics and evolution
    • Making materials
    • Forces and motion
    • Growing our food
    • Reactivity
    • Electricity 
    • Topics to support the transition to the study of science at GCSE level


    Our Key Stage 3 curriculum aims to develop our students’ skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and to promote a love of reading.  We believe in the importance of effective assessment.  Students assess each other and their peers, and they receive ongoing feedback and guidance from their teachers.  They complete a formal assessment on either their analytical reading skills or their writing skills each half term. 

    We believe strongly that learning should take place both inside and outside the classroom.  Therefore, we offer students the opportunity to visit cultural destinations such as the Globe Theatre, the Youth Theatre and the British Library. Students also visit our school farm as an inspiration for creative writing and poetry, and we encourage students to enter a range of national writing competitions.


    Literacy skills are pivotal to success in all subjects, so we give all Year 7 and 8 students discrete literacy lessons each week.  In Year 7, we study a diverse range of topics that incorporate clear links to other subjects, but we present them in such a way as to develop the skills learned in Key Stage 2 English.  In Year 8, we focus on strengthening students’ command of English grammar, and on developing their writing and comprehension skills.  We use a range of engaging texts including historical sources, ‘CSI-style’ evidence and recent newspaper articles.

    Students are given home learning each fortnight to support their overall literacy skills. This usually takes the form of either a worksheet or a spelling workbook. Activities are appropriately differentiated to ensure that we are meeting all our students’ learning needs.  


    Our Key Stage 3 maths course is carefully differentiated to allow us to meet the learning needs of each individual student while ensuring full coverage of the National Curriculum.  In Years 7 and 8, students are assigned to one of three levels, each of which covers the same core content but with varying degrees of support and challenge.  Students can move between these levels whenever necessary.  In Year 9, we turn our attention to the concepts that underpin GCSE work, to ensure that our students have firm foundations for their future study.

    Using and applying maths is an integral part of the course. It is designed to stimulate students’ self‐confidence, consideration for others, adaptability, responsibility for their own learning, curiosity and self‐discipline. Students have the opportunity to take part in the United Kingdom Mathematics Challenge (UKMC).

    Homework is set weekly, often using a web-based programme called Doddle.  Each half-term, students complete a homework project designed to reveal the relevance of maths to everyday life.  Half-termly assessments, ongoing self-assessment and feedback from teachers help to ensure rapid progress.


    Alongside their maths lessons, students in Year 7 have two dedicated numeracy lessons each week, and Year 8 students have one. The course teaches and practises the numerical skills that students require for their maths courses, for other subjects (such as science and psychology) and for their day-to-day lives.  For example, students practise number bonds and multiplication table facts, they learn about different methods of multiplying and division, and they explore negative numbers in depth.  We also aim to develop problem-solving skills, and we use approaches based on cognitive acceleration (CAME).

    Numeracy skills are regularly reinforced in other subjects too.


    History is the study of the past. It helps students to develop the skills to look beyond the headlines, to ask questions properly, to analyse and to reach judicious conclusions. Through the study of different societies, governments and individuals, history enables us to understand our world today.

    In Year 7, students study: 

    • How do we know what happened in 1066?
    • What is feudalism?
    • Why were the Middle Sges so bloody?
    • How did England become important?
    • Why did the Crusades happen?
    • What important roles have women played in history?

    In Year 8, students study:

    • Who were the Tudors?
    • How did the Middle Ages end?
    • How was the United Kingdom made?
    • Empire and industry: Why did the British need cotton?
    • How and why did Britain change in the nineteenth Century?
    • How significant were African civilisations?

    In Year 9, students study:

    • How did African people lose and then win their freedom?
    • How far have black people won civil rights?
    • Why did the world go to war in 1914?
    • Why did the Allies win World War 2?
    • How and why did the Holocaust happen?
    • What was the Cold war?


    All KS3 students have one lesson of drama each week.  Over the course of the three years, they learn about different types of drama, and they use the discipline to engage with material linked to PSHE and other core curriculum subjects.  The value of drama lies not just in its cultural significance and the enjoyment that our students derive from it, but also in the so-called ‘soft skills,’ such as teamwork, that it develops, which are so important for students in later life.


    We teach music both for its own sake and because of its value in assisting the psychological and cognitive development of young people.  Our weekly lessons in Key Stage 3 combine the practical and theoretical elements of the subject, and give students opportunities to perform and to compose music that they enjoy on a variety of instruments.

    Computing & ICT 

    ‘The core of computing is computer science, in which pupils are taught the principles of information and computation, how digital systems work and how to put this knowledge to use through programming. Building on this knowledge and understanding, pupils are equipped to use information technology to create programs, systems and a range of content. Computing also ensures that pupils become digitally literate – able to use, and express themselves and develop their ideas through, information and communication technology – at a level suitable for the future workplace and as active participants in a digital world.’ Department of Education, 2013.

    To ensure our students are part of such an innovative and exciting transition, we have developed an exciting computing curriculum that is personalised to suit our students. The new computing curriculum is intended to provide the breadth and depth in skills, knowledge and understanding needed by all our students, including those who choose to continue with their studies in computer science in KS4.

    Religious Studies

    Religious Studies encourages students to consider their place within the evermore complex world in terms of their beliefs and values and the religious practices of others.  The questions raised in the study of religion are central to human experience and RS remains important as part of a rounded curriculum in terms of the social, moral, spiritual and cultural development of the young people at Phoenix Academy.

    Religious Studies at Phoenix has moved toward a more thematic curriculum, where students study a variety of issues from a range of religious and non‐religious perspectives.  All of the world religions are important and all have their place within the RS curriculum.  We also encourage a skills based, evaluative approach which complements study at GCSE and these skills include expression, analysis, comparison and evaluation.

    PSHE & Citizenship

    PSHE and Citizenship Education is a planned programme of learning through which students acquire the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to manage their lives; make their own informed decisions; and to take responsibility for their communities. The PSHE curriculum has been designed to meet the learning, personal, social, health and emotional needs of our students at Phoenix Academy.

    In Year 7, students study:

    • Children’s Rights and Responsibilities: Students explore the rights and responsibilities they have in the context of their families, their school and their wider community. The topic considers the way in which they see themselves and construct their personal identity.
    • Emotional Wellbeing: Students examine what makes them happy and what makes them sad; and they learn a range of strategies to cope when they are feeling sad.
    • Healthy Eating: Students study the effects of our diets on our health and wellbeing.  The focus is on dental hygiene; eating disorders and obesity; and the impact of advertising on how we perceive our bodies.

    In Year 8, students study:

    • Information Communication Technology: Students assess the various forms of ICT, and the benefits and dangers of using them.  We discuss, for example, cyber-bullying, on-line gaming and social networks.
    • Anti-Bullying: Students study the causes, forms and consequences of bullying.  They work towards creating an anti-bullying presentation that they deliver to their peers as part of National Anti-Bullying Week in November.
    • Changes: Students examine and discuss the physical, mental and emotional changes that are experienced during puberty, and ways in which to prepare for them. This topic will be facilitated by a school nurse.

    In Year 9, students study:

    • Mental Health: Students explore and analyse what mental health is, and discuss issues surrounding it.
    • Government and politics: Students learn about the UK’s political system and procedures.  This topic includes a visit to the Houses of Parliament.
    • Crime and punishment: In this topic, students analyse how the UK law treats young people.  We discuss drugs and anti-social behaviour.  This topic is supported by a series of workshops delivered by quality-assured educational providers.


    Phoenix Academy

    Phoenix Academy, The Curve, Shepherds Bush, London, W12 0RQ
    Tel: 020 8749 1141