The quality of teaching at Worth has been rated 'excellent' and the School recognises how important the first two years of secondary school are in establishing a love of learning. Lessons must be fun, exhilarating and purposeful, creating the best possible foundation for the GCSEs ahead. Boys and girls joining Year 7 follow a carefully calibrated three-year syllabus that deliberately follows through into Year 9, thus laying the best foundations for their GCSEs which start in Year 10.
The curriculum in Years 7 and 8 is deliberately broad and well-balanced. Taught by academic subject specialists, pupils have lessons in Art, Drama, Design and Technology, English, French, Geography, History, ICT, Latin, Mathematics, Music, Physical Education, Religious Studies, Spanish and Science. Lessons are held in subject classrooms, and the pupils have full access to the laboratories, studios and theatre of the Senior school.
As Year 8 pupils at Worth do not have to sit any further examinations – such as Common Entrance – to progress into the Senior school, the Junior years are focused on learning, rather than testing. The curriculum in Years 7 and 8 is designed to dovetail with that in Year 9, allowing for easy transition.
The Year 9 curriculum follows a similar pattern to that of Years 7 and 8 with a few further modifications. Art, Drama, Design and Technology, English, Geography, History, ICT, Mathematics, Physical Education and Religious Studies are studied in preparation for GCSE courses. Lessons in Biology, Chemistry and Physics are introduced in place of Science and German, French or Spanish can be studied as an optional second language. Latin and Music also become optional.
Academic Enrichment is fostered by academic clubs and societies which run during dedicated slots each week. There are opportunities for visits, exchanges, talks, conferences and team building sessions – all of which extend pupils' academic interests beyond the classroom.
Each academic department has a subject specific policy on providing for academically gifted pupils and much work is done within departments to stretch academically gifted pupils and to challenge them to aim higher. The Junior Lucet group (from the Latin 'he/she shines or excels') meets every half-term. A range of topics is covered such as time management, the power of habit, critical thinking and revision techniques. Also pupils have opportunities for public speaking at whole school academic assemblies, to hear guest speakers at half-termly talks and to go on trips to enrich their experience beyond the classroom. In addition, Academic Scholars are monitored by the Deputy Head (Academic) and they are expected to participate actively in an academic society, perform outstandingly within the classroom and show academic initiative.
LITERACY, NUMERACY, SPEAKING, LISTENING AND ICT ACROSS THE CURRICULUM
In all year groups and all subjects, pupils are taught to express themselves correctly and appropriately. In addition, pupils are taught the technical and specialist vocabulary of subjects and how to use and spell these words. Resources and initiatives to promote literacy are provided by the Library and the English Department in particular, and Learning Support lessons in Literacy and Numeracy are available The skills of listening and speaking are developed across the curriculum and pupils are given the opportunity to make presentations and to listen to each other's ideas. Debating also promotes these skills, as does the study of Modern Foreign Languages.
ICT is taught as a discrete subject but, in addition, the curriculum in Years 7, 8 and 9 in particular ensures that pupils have the software skills and opportunities which are needed for their learning in other subjects. All pupils own laptop computers which can be used in the classroom and for independent study. Touch typing skills are a great asset and pupils are encouraged to practice regularly. However, it should be noted that, when the time comes, the majority of pupils will still be required to write many of their examination papers by hand. It is important, therefore, that pupils do not become over-reliant on the keyboard at the expense of handwriting.
HANDS UP FOR HOMEWORK
Year 7 and 8 pupils should be able to complete their homework using the dedicated timetabled lessons during the school working week, although at times some work will need to be brought home for completion. Worth uses Show My Homework, an online homework diary showing homework information, deadlines and attachments for pupils and parents.
Regular pupil progress meetings encourage tutors and teachers to share information about pupil performance, and regular academic reporting enables tutors, parents and pupils to monitor pupils' standards. Parents receive four grade reports and two full written reports during the year. They are also invited to attend parents' conferences. As part of the regular reporting system, pupils in Year 7 receive a 'challenge grade' and a current attainment grade for each subject studied. The challenge grade is determined by screening tests delivered in-house and MidYIS data, and in consultation with the Deputy Head Academic. In addition, each pupil receives separate grades in a seven-part 'Attitude to Learning' reporting grid, encompassing areas of class contribution, standard of homework, organisation, and punctuality.
The purpose of assessment and reporting is to ensure that all pupils are clear where they are in their learning, where they need to go next and the best way to get there. Verbal feedback, marking of written work and reporting are all useful tools within this process. At Worth, assessment takes several forms:
- Diagnostic: Where the focus is on what a pupil can or cannot do, Identifying specific learning strengths and areas for development
- Formative: Deciding what a pupil needs to do next, and engaging pupils in their educational development through target setting and self-assessment
- Summative: Summing up a pupil's progress so far, celebrating and acknowledging achievement, progress and effort
Worth also has a system of Attitude Learning Awards to monitor effort and to encourage pupils to work hard and achieve their academic potential. A quartile tracker, based on measured ability, is used to monitor attainment. Academic needs and performance are monitored via the carefully structured tutor system.
There are timetabled meetings twice a week between pupils and Tutors, and frequent contact between Tutors and parents. Year 7 and Year 8 Tutors are House-based, and the tutor groups are small. As well as discussing academic progress, they will discuss other matters of mutual interest or elements of the pastoral curriculum. Much of the work of the Tutor goes on quietly behind the scenes – a conversation about a pupil with a colleague, a phone call to parents before a difficulty becomes a problem or a personal word of congratulation when, for example, one pupil helps another. We would expect a pupil to stay with the same Tutor for Year 7 and Year 8.
The SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural) sessions are a regular feature of Year 7 and 8 timetables and cover the following topics:
- Spiritual – Beliefs, perspective on life, respect for different people's feelings and values.
- Moral – Recognising the difference between right and wrong, moral and ethical issues.
- Social – Cooperation, resolving conflicts effectively.
- Cultural – Cultural influences, respect for and celebration of cultural diversity.
Year 7 and 8 pupils have free access to the main school library. The spacious library is staffed by a librarian and a library assistant who are always on hand to help pupils access a wide range of print and online resources. There is a large study area and a dedicated IT suite. The library holds over 15,000 print books, both for recreational reading and to support academic studies. In addition, the library subscribes to an extensive suite of eBooks and the online library catalogue will help students find resources, get recommendations for what to read next, see what is on an account, reserve items, create a wish list and much more.
Pupils in Years 7 and 8 who are referred to the Learning Support department follow Worth's mainstream curriculum plus three to five 55-minute lessons per fortnight. Specialist staff devise with their pupils tailored education plans based on their Educational Psychologist report. We aim to equip pupils with the skills needed to feel happy and confident in the school environment and to help improve their self-esteem and confidence in their own ability. Each pupil works in small groups with a specialist teacher. At parental request, one-to-one specialist tuition may be arranged, subject to an additional charge, depending upon timetable and teacher availability.
born of faith
will be our guide...