1. Intent: why do we teach what we teach?
- Link subject to big picture of the whole school mission, vision and values
- What are the underlying principles of how the curriculum is designed?
- How do you keep your knowledge and understanding of the curriculum up to date?
- Is there sufficient coverage, timetabling and progression of curriculum in this subject? How do you know?
- Which aspects of the curriculum are revised and repeated? What is the rationale for this? How well does the curriculum ensure progression and develop learning from one key stage to the next?
The economics curriculum aims to prepare students to be able tackle economics and social science subjects at university. By studying economics A level, students should feel well-equipped to present economic analysis in a history, politics, business or sociology degree at university. At the same time, the depth of the economics curriculum should make the transition to an economics degree at university smooth. To enable this to be the case, the curriculum will go beyond the A level syllabus to ensure students have full exposure to the key concepts and skills that are required in the first year of an undergraduate degree. For example, in the areas of behavioural economics, Keynesian vs Classical analysis, cost-benefit analysis, game theory, theories of growth, money and banking and development economics students are taught concepts that are not specified in the syllabus but will place them in a strong position when studying an economics degree. The curriculum is designed to equip students with the fundamental skills of economic analysis at the start of the course which allow them to progress rapidly when dealing with the big picture economic problems of the subject. For example, the introductory unit spends time modelling the macro economy, discussing the accuracy of the theory rational behaviour and teaching quantitative skills of index numbers and percentage change. Students are also exposed to economic reading early on with book chapters and articles from the Economist given as part of weekly homework. The curriculum must be informed by the very latest economic news to be relevant and purposeful for students. Examples are used in every lesson and students are trained to apply concepts to the most recent economic data. Any teachers of the subject are encouraged to read The Economist, follow the Tutor2U daily blog and engage with wider economics teaching initiatives like the Common Core and the IEA.
Government and Politics:
The politics curriculum aims to develop articulate and informed students who have reasoned opinions about the state of British and global politics. Lessons and MTPs are centred around fundamental questions such as adequacy of British democracy, the representativeness of Parliament, the power of the Prime Minister and the strength of global institutions such as the UN and IMF. Political philosophy is a core part of the course which aims to prepare students for the whole of an undergraduate degree in politics and also allows students to feel informed about some of the content of a philosophy degree. We are in the minority across the country in choosing to deliver the Global Politics rather than Politics of the USA unit in Yr13. We have done this purposefully to reflect the background and interests of our students. Global politics uses specific examples from Kosovo, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to analyse the theoretical content of the unit and our students often draw on family connections in this unit. This is then supported by our choice of ‘nationalism’ as the optional political philosophy. This again has been chosen to support a better understanding of global politics but also to fit with students’ experience of learning nationalism in humanities at KS3&4 and to tackle what we believe is a growing issue in western democracies. The study of African nationalist figures such as Garvey often resonates with our students from this part of the world. The course aims to build quality essay writing skills quickly. Essay structure is decoded and explicitly taught in a formulaic manner. Pre-work and homework demands that students stay in touch with current affairs with a large proportion made up of reading of the latest commentaries on the news. We aim to actively engage students in politics, holding mock elections during a general election, an MoD year-long masterclass and an annual tour of Parliament in conjunction with our local MP’s office.
2. Implementation: how do we teach what we teach?
- Explain (in a table if most helpful) the curriculum hours/allocation/choice within the subject and the organisation of pupil work (e.g. ex books/folders/online etc)
- How many teachers are subject specialists? What training related to the curriculum in the six months to two years. Has there been any subject specific training for staff in your subject? How are non-specialist staff supported and consistency and quality of curriculum implementation assured?
- How do you ensure access for pupils/learners who have low prior attainment, including their basic skills such as reading?
- How does the curriculum meet the needs of all pupils/learners – particularly disadvantaged learners and learners who have additional needs/SEND.
- How well is the planned curriculum implemented? What checks do you make and what changes have you made as a result of your checks?
- How well does output match to the planned progression? Is planned progression evident?
- How well are resources used to support the curriculum? Do all pupils/learners have access to appropriate resources?
In economics, there has been one teacher leading the subject for four years. This teacher is an experienced practitioner and senior examiner for another exam board. Subject teaching was shared by a non-subject specialist 2018-19, with the current Yr13 students taught exclusively by the non-specialist in Yr12, leaving some additional work to be done with the students in Yr13. There exists some economics expertise in the Maths department but currently there is only one teacher of the subject and there would therefore be a risk if the subject specialist left the school. The curriculum is fully planned with LTP and MTPs and a large body of lesson-by-lesson resources. While MTPs could be more detailed, all individual lessons have full work packs and homework and prework and there is an extensive bank of revision resources. The curriculum is designed to take students from their starting point at the end of GCSE not the start of the syllabus. This means that more time is spent at the start of the course introducing skills and key concepts. All lessons have key elements of model presentation, real-world application and student practice, often to exam questions. Prework and do nows are used as opportunities to expose students to wider reading and data analysis. In Year 12, micro and macro are taught discreetly with macro taught until Christmas, followed by micro (when there is one teacher for the whole cohort) and this aims to embed deep understanding of the basic concepts. In Yr13, micro and macro are taught in the same week to enable students to make cross-syllabus links which builds them into complete economists and prepares them for the synoptic nature of paper 3.
In politics, teaching has been delivered by a number of different practitioners who often have politics as a second subject. While teaching has generally been delivered by well-informed and passionate teachers, in the past they have been from a history background. The current teaching team is new to the syllabus however both have studied politics as part of their university degree. There is currently no-one who has examined for an exam board on the politics team, although this is hoped to change in the next two years as our NQT becomes more experienced. The change of syllabus has been used as an opportunity to add rigour to the course’s planning and there now exist detailed LTPs and MTPs for every unit as well as fully resourced lessons with good quality work packs and connected PW and HW for every lesson. The curriculum generally follows the exam board syllabus. With one teacher in Yr12, UK Politics is taught before UK Government as we believe this best engages students in big picture debates before focusing on more procedural features of parliament. We aim to teach all political philosophies – socialism, liberalism, conservatism and nationalism by the end of Yr12 to allow Global Politics and revision in Yr13. This means that the teaching of new content can finish by the end of January allowing for fully global mock examinations in HT3 of Yr13. We currently run a model in Yr13 of one teacher revising with students for two lessons per week based on the content that she is currently teaching for the first time to Yr12, while the other teachers delivers the whole Global Politics unit in three lessons per week.
3. Impact: how do we know what pupils have learnt and how well they have learnt it?
- How do you know what pupils have learnt? How do you check? When did you last check? What did this tell you? Use the language of formative and summative assessment
- How do teachers use assessment to adapt the curriculum and plan the right work? How well do staff understand the purpose of assessment?
- Does learning over time show progression and appropriate levels of challenge?
- How is assessment used to inform and improve curriculum design?
The economics course is assessed using tri-weekly taught and cumulative assessments in accordance with the wider KS5 assessment model. Apart from the first tri-weekly in Yr12, all assessments include end of Yr13-standard assessments often taken from past papers from other exam boards. A re-teach lesson always follows a tri-weekly assessment and often takes a whole lesson as content is reviewed and work re-drafted. By the third tri-weekly assessment students are expected to be able to write a full economics essay assessed against a global assessment mark scheme. Progress in lessons is always checked by ensuring there is an opportunity for students to apply their learning to a big picture question, often in the form of an exam question. Students complete parts of bigger questions such as analysis and evaluation paragraphs, diagram analysis or openings and conclusions to check their progress. Questioning and discussion is a key method of both student engagement and assessment for learning and is used to push and inspire students. By Easter of Yr12 students are sitting a full A level exam paper and the end of Year 12 assessment is designed to reflect two thirds of a final A level exam. The course is designed for content to be very close to complete by the end of January in Yr13 allowing for global assessment to take place. Revision then uses economic debates that are in the news to build synoptic thinking ready for the rigour of the final A level exam series.
Government and Politics:
The politics course is assessed using tri-weekly taught and cumulative assessments in accordance with the wider KS5 assessment model. By the second TW assessment of Yr12 students are assessed by writing a full essay in timed conditions and their feedback is based on the expectations of a student at the end their two-year course. The features of an excellent politics essay are explicitly taught and a generic essay feedback is used to drill students in these features. All lessons are followed by a detailed re-teach lesson that usually a form of re-draft. By the Autumn 2 assessment of Yr12 students are assessed with two full essays and by the end Yr13 students sit full past papers in Unit 1 and 2, representing two thirds of the A level course. In January of Yr13, students sit fully global end of course assessments. Progress in lessons revolves around the discussion of and application to big picture questions. Lesson assessment normally involves students completing part of an essay answer, usually by writing analytical paragraphs, mini-judgements or extended conclusions. Questioning, discussion and debate should be seen in every politics lesson as we see this as a key tool in building student engagement and stretching and challenging students. We believe that confident oral articulation of political opinions builds a student’s ability to write at an A level standard. However, nearly all of our students need significant modelling and scaffolding over the course of the curriculum to build a writing style that is fluent and of a high enough standard to access top grades.