Since its official launch in September 2013 the new KS3 course SMSC has been enjoyed by students and staff with many positive results. The teaching focus and supporting material for the learning was largely designed by the school’s own student voice group the SMSC YLG, so the lessons students participate in are the direct result of pupils’ own choices about their learning. Year 7 has an overriding theme of Survival, whilst Year 8 investigates Connections, with Year 9 exploring Power. All of the schemes of work are connected to these overarching themes.
Year 7 pupils have responded with enthusiasm and sensitivity to their topics, with their work on surviving extremities; responses to Animal Rights and the Holocaust enabled them to fully demonstrate their skills of debate and empathy. They have explored ultimate questions about the creation of all creatures, as well as probing deeper into the idea that human beings adapt or evolve over time. The Holocaust projects produced by some Year 7 have been particularly impressive, as pupils selected the outcome that best suited their talent in order to showcase their progress. Pupils were given access to higher level reading in the form of biographical novels created by Holocaust survivors to work in conjunction with the academy’s commitment to boost Literacy. Next year this unit will be enriched by more resources created by the student voice group YLG, as a group of YLG pupils will be travelling with staff to Auschwitz Concentration Camp to learn, discuss and create whilst on location. They will produce photography, film, art and creative writing whilst staying in Poland, all of which will be used by teachers when we address the Holocaust again with our new year 7 intake. This ensures that learning is always pupil led and that our learners are more independent.
Similarly, year 8 have been enthused by their work on Gang Culture which afforded them the opportunity to study human behaviour and question how society networks, how connections are made and what causes deviance. Pupils also looked closely at marriage, in particular the attitudes and practices of other cultures and faiths. Most recently, their response to the “lost connections” unit has included the reading of a biography by Natascha Kampusch whose eight year abduction was
headline news; in doing so pupils addressed the important issue of personal safety, using drama and reflection to deepen their awareness. Year 8 pupils are to be commended for their genuine interest in SMSC topics. They regularly ask to borrow many of the novels and biographies we use as stimuli and will read these in their own time. Even more inspiring is that some pupils have even bought their own copies!
Year 9 students continue to impress with their mature approach to debate and discussion. They demonstrated passion and skill when studying the power of leadership, whereby they explored the devastating consequences of poor leadership: The Rwandan genocide and the tyranny of Henry VIII. When studying the power of metaphysics students questioned the intangible (what we cannot see or touch). In doing so they debated whether God exists, whether there is life beyond earth and they examined the power of radical or fundamentalist beliefs that can lead to extremist behaviour, such as terrorism. Their most recent study of pressure has resulted in some groups undertaking the “pressure project” whereby pupils designed their own research material in the form of questionnaires and interviewed students and staff around the school, hoping to prove their original hypothesis about the impact of pressure on young teens as correct. They examined a variety of pressures, including social media, alcohol, drugs and body image. Consequently, we addressed the important issue of e-safety through our exploration of pressures connected with social networking. Pupils had flexible choices in their learning, as allowing a differentiated outcome has always been a priority for SMSC.
At KS4 there are exciting developments for the curriculum as SMSC will soon be introduced. There is also the new “Humanities” GCSE, open to year 9 as an option for their year 10 studies for the first time. All of the intended developments are closely connected with the work of the student voice group, YLG.
The emphasis on facilitating pupils’ creativity and allowing pupils to explore a range of outcomes has been a goal for SMSC staff this year. As such, there have been many highlights, from the truly spectacular Year 7 puppet shows, song-writing and fimo badge making, the year 9 film trailers and interview field work, the year 8 clay models and drama productions… amongst others. Pupils are always encouraged to represent their learning in an outcome that suits them best, often choosing between art, writing and drama so that no student feels they cannot express their view, subject knowledge or skill as it progresses.
The SMSC YLG will continue to be heavily involved in making choices about the SMSC Curriculum as we beginning planning for next year. They have already designed and conducted interviews and questionnaires with pupils and staff to establish what has been successful and where changes need to take place. One of the exciting aspects of SMSC is that it will nev-er be static. Indeed it must continue to grow and expand to match the needs of our pupils and to reflect the challenges and pressures of our time. Most importantly, SMSC is a subject largely devised by the students and its goal will always be to give to our pupils what they feel they need in order to be worldly, rounded and compassionate young people with a genuine thirst for knowledge and success.
The year 7 girls football team have also had a good run this year, going into their last two matches undefeated. The girls had a tough battled against CCHS last week as they only had 6 players in a 7 aside match. The game was tied 2-2 in the second half, until Becky McDougal broke through and gave CCA the lead and ultimately sealing the victory for CCA. In their second match of the month they faced TTC. CCA turned up with a diminished team, only 5 players making the journey to Coast. Despite the odds being against them, they put on a fantastic display, the score was 6-0 going into the second half. CCA continued the pressure and won the match 10-0. Becky McDougall bagging 8 goals, Paige knight and Emily Smith grabbed a goal each as well. Well done girls a fantastic effort.
The under 14’s had a tough challenge ahead facing TTC. The first half saw an unsettled CCA concede early in the match. Half time talk complete and CCA meant business. They accelerated out of the blocks passing the ball well. An amazing one touch pass routine saw the ball tapped in by Chloe O’Reilly. CCA kept the pressure on and a powerful shot from Saffron Heffer was deflected by the goal keeper right into the path of Katie Black who slotted the ball home to take the victory.