The Curriculum at Future Academies
Knowledge sits at the heart of our curriculum; we make no apologies for this. Whilst we, like all schools, want our students to leave our care with a strong set of academic qualifications, it is equally important to us that our students are culturally literate. To this end, our curriculum is designed to ensure that our students have access to a body of knowledge that they might otherwise be denied.
We advocate a broadly traditional curriculum in terms of the subjects offered in our schools. We believe in the specificity of individual subjects and the importance of teaching to rigorous standards for each. Consequently, our curriculum is designed to be challenging and aspirational and, as such, it is the truest reflection of the high aspirations we hold for our students and the most powerful tool we have available in our efforts to help them achieve those aspirations.
The Curriculum Centre
Our work focuses on the development of new, high-quality curriculum programmes for our schools to use. This work initially began with Pimlico Academy in 2012 and has continued to grow as our Trust has grown. In recent years, our work has focused on supporting our hub of primary schools in Pimlico, creating a common curriculum in Ancient History, British History, English, Latin, and Geography. As more secondary schools join the Trust, we are focusing on developing new Key Stage 3 curriculum programmes, as well as broadening our subject expertise.
Our Trust, and by extension our curriculum, is built on the belief that powerful learning occurs when subject-specialist teachers impart knowledge onto their students, keeping the importance of memory and retention in mind. Our work is driven by a desire to reduce unnecessary workload for our teachers by providing them with long and medium-term planning documents accompanied by classroom-ready resources, to support the delivery of a complete, coherent and challenging curriculum programme.
A common curriculum across the Trust also offers practical benefits to our schools: enabling them to access high-quality and cost-effective resources for all teachers to use; to collaborate during assessment moderation, which is especially important at Key Stage 3; to share best practice from our classrooms; to exchange ideas and expertise on curriculum content; and to provide career development opportunities for our staff in curriculum design and leadership. For each curriculum programme, we appoint a Lead who is an expert in their field and can oversee the development of the curriculum, working with school subject leads and their departments.
Too often schools and teachers chase examination grades, planning lessons backwards from A-Level and GCSE specifications (or in the primary sector, SATs) in an effort to make pupils ‘exam-ready’. This kind of practice holds little regard for the breadth of a child’s knowledge and understanding and, therefore, this kind of teaching and curriculum management is not practised at Future Academies, where we value subject expertise in our teachers and subject specificity in our curriculum.
Whilst we recognise that success in external assessments is important to both schools and their pupils, we also hold firmly to the belief that this success emerges organically from a curriculum that provides breadth and challenge and is delivered in a rigorous and consistent manner. We teach to the subject, not to the test.
As we move towards a more fully-resourced common curriculum, teachers will use the textbooks provided as the core teaching material. The textbooks will provide teachers with an outline for what to teach in a given subject.
We place a premium on the subject knowledge of our teachers. With this in mind, the primary function of our lessons is to facilitate the eventual transfer of their knowledge to students. We do not teach one particular ‘type’ of lesson, understanding that any effort to reduce teaching to an identikit lesson framework is reductive; however, there are a number of common features that our classrooms share.