Key Stage 3 – A High Priority
In September 2015 Ofsted published a report that identified the weaknesses in teaching and learning in Key Stage 3 in schools where these school years was not made a priority. Too many secondary schools, the report said, did not give KS3 enough status, or indeed build on the progress made at primary schools.
In response to this, we have re-focused our attention on Key Stage 3. Everything we teach in Years 7, 8 and 9 is evaluated to make sure it has an impact on what the students learn at KS4, recognising that what happens in the early stages of secondary education impacts significantly on future outcomes. We have made KS3 a high priority for teaching and learning; we have changed the way we deliver subjects; we have made sure that the students do not repeat work they have already covered at primary school, but at the same time ensure the students have mastery of the key line objectives in English and Maths in particular that they need to be successful at KS4.
One of the ways we do this is by our focus on red line objectives in literacy and maths, where each lesson in English and Maths contains elements of the mastery of basic skills. We have found this approach accelerates progress considerably and that progress in key skills at KS3 is rapid and sustained.
We are also working closely with our feeder primary schools, using student’s books to inform the quality of work as new year 7 students start with us, and working with year 6 teachers to ensure that our curriculum and approach for year 7 dovetails with what the children learn in Primary school. We are focusing first on ensuring English, Humanities, Maths and Science dovetail, then will expand to other subjects. Our teachers are also going into the primary schools to teach year 6, and Primary teachers visiting our lessons to ensure that their former students are working well.
To further support our focus on Key Stage 3 we have also introduced an Independent Study lesson for each of Years 7, 8 and 9. This lesson concentrates on, as the name suggests, teaching the students to take responsibility for their learning and operate independently. The skills of critical thinking, metacognition, problem solving and peer tutoring are taught specifically via a menu of differentiated units which the students can chose themselves.