At The Stephen Longfellow Academy, we approach the curriculum with an absolute rigour and ambition. We believe that our curriculum evidences an in-depth understanding and insight into the nature of our students and a driving ambition to develop their love of learning and engagement with the highest quality of education. By nature, the curriculum develops both personal development and academic success. Its intentions and vision are firmly embedded and delivered through exceptional teaching. Clear strands of consistency run throughout, creating a powerful coherency of learning, and reflect a breadth and depth that enables learners to question, grow and evolve. We make no excuses for the fact that the robustness of our curriculum is in line with the very best that mainstream education can offer; we do this because we are passionate in the belief that exceptional learning will form the most significant transforming factor in our students’ lives.
We also know that in many examples of how Alternative Provision functions nationally, such is the mismatch between what students study in mainstream education and Alternative Provision that they are unable to return to mainstream education following any period of time away. The quality of our curriculum has the power to completely alter that trajectory and the life opportunities for the learners who join us and is ensured to provide challenge, to broaden horizons and to change futures. We recognise the uniqueness of our students and this is evidenced in a thoughtful and insightful curriculum which is both embedded and impactful. The choices that we make reflect the needs of our learners and the determination to provide students with the very best of opportunities when they leave us.
The following areas are key to our curriculum offer at
The Stephen Longfellow Academy:
Challenge and Resilience
On referral to the academy, many of our students face significant barriers and struggle to overcome challenge. Their past experiences of education often mean that they have already typecast themselves as ‘failures.’ Frequently, they envisage education as a negative system which is invariably against them and their sense of self-worth and personal accomplishment is significantly diminished. The first task of our curriculum is to alter these preconceived ideas and to create opportunities for our students to engage and to experience success. Our curriculum is also carefully constructed to ensure that our students are routinely exposed to difficult and challenging concepts, which gradually develop confidence, stamina and resilience. The ‘Hook’ forms the first part of the lesson and is planned within the context of the curriculum. Its role in learning is to engage students from the very onset, by creating a moment in which students are genuinely ‘transfixed’ by learning. Purple Zone is central to our intent and develops challenge and resilience. Through this learning experience students grapple independently every lesson with work that is genuinely challenging, over extended periods of time. Thus, students become increasingly confident in approaching difficult concepts, working independently and building their resilience, all of which are crucial not only to linear exam success but to the many challenges that adult life inevitably presents.
Another academy focus is the development of students who can take responsibility for their own actions including learning and attitudes toward behaviour. Both academic and personal progress is measured every term and reported to parents and carers as part of the academy and home partnership. The academy is proud to develop students who are able to work independently and take personal account for their own behaviour and learning.
The Development and Retention of Skills and Knowledge
Every subject is carefully mapped out across each year group and key stage. This process began with the development of a clear intention, a vision of what we want to achieve for our learners, and a rationale also of the reasons behind our curriculum choices. Where appropriate, we align with the wider Trust, and we gain considerably from the expertise of our colleagues. Delivered in line with our partner Gorse academies, the curriculum ensures that students build upon prior knowledge and understanding. In preparation for linear examinations, the academy takes an iterative approach to teaching, learning and assessment and through careful curriculum mapping we are able to ensure the retention of knowledge over time. This is further embedded through the strategic use of Knowledge Organisers – the final tier of the Curriculum and provide a means whereby both teacher and student are able to track, develop and understand their individual learning journey.
Assessment, intervention and support
Our curriculum is planned to ensure that every student makes excellent progress from the point of entry and receives timely and effective additional support where necessary. Regular formative and summative assessment opportunities are mapped carefully and along with high quality assessment for learning during class time and timely written feedback, enables us to address gaps in knowledge and understanding. The accuracy of marking and the validity of student data is supported through regular trust wide moderation events.
As part of our relentless approach to student development, Green for Growth is a feature of most lessons as students are challenged to reflect and make improvements on previous work. Alongside high quality teaching and learning, expert additional support is available to all students and is highlighted through a rigorous baseline testing protocol. Students with additional special educational needs are supported through intervention led by the academy SENCo who co-ordinates a whole school approach to supporting every learner. Those students requiring provision for social and/or emotional barriers to learning are supported by the therapeutic and pastoral team who work alongside the individual and their family to address concerns that lay outside of the traditional classroom setting.
Key to our assessment of learning is Trackle, a platform through which we track and evidence students’ ongoing progress and performance through the capture of key moments of learning. The bespoke nature of this tool enables the academy to combine a true and holistic view of each learner and tracks both the pastoral and therapeutic intervention provided to each individual student with their academic success and progress. The picture that this provides is a powerful one, reflecting our utter commitment to the student as a whole and the impact that we have on each student’s learning, enjoyment of learning and future opportunities.
We believe passionately in the importance and value of reading and that it is the role of every education professional to promote opportunities which will support the development of reading skills as well as promoting a love of reading. Students need to be effective readers in order to fully access the curriculum, to succeed in examinations and to become critical and informed thinkers, confident in debate and in discussing a range of issues. Our curriculum is designed to provide students with multiple opportunities to read widely and critically through extended form time opportunities and the promotion of retrieval, reading for inference and the development of vocabulary in every lesson.
Social, moral and cultural capital
Our curriculum is designed to develop the whole child and we feel it is our responsibility to develop respectful students with a strong sense of British values that are central to them making positive, well informed decisions. As part of our detailed curriculum mapping, every subject area includes threads of spiritual, moral, social and cultural education alongside Modern British Values within the delivery of lessons. As a forward thinking academy, we follow the 2020 SRE curriculum and look deeper at key issues through the weekly key stage assembly.
Through meaningful classroom exposure to SMSC and MBV alongside the delivery of a varied enrichment and extra-curricular programme, we ensure that students develop strong cultural capital and are given opportunities that they may not traditionally have access to. A buoyant afterschool programme also allows students to develop the feeling of academy identity by representing the academy in a number of sporting disciplines as well as developing themselves further in both academic and holistic learning opportunities.
Central to all of this a clear understanding of the academies expectations and how a strong, student led approach to success and discipline will prepare each student for the challenges that lie ahead. Working alongside students, parents and carers, the academy seek to drive a culture of high aspiration and achievement whilst supporting a culture of autonomy where students can be responsible for their own learning.
Year 7 and 8
Years 7 and 8 study in line with the National Curriculum with the omission of languages in favour of an additional focus on English and the opportunity for an extended form time. During a 30 minute daily form tutor check in, students will be exposed to a variety of additional literacy and numeracy activities and will stretch and challenge personal opinion and beliefs via the weekly SMSC topic and news quiz. Additional time is also attributed to individual target setting and pastoral/wellbeing support in order to respond to emerging needs.
The curriculum is based around a 5 period day with each lesson lasting 40 minutes. The duration of individual sessions is set to maximise learning and to remove barriers around the notion of students feeling that learning becomes stagnant.
|Subject||Number of lessons|
|Music||1 (Plus extra-curricular)|
|PE||2 (Plus extra-curricular)|
Years 9, 10 and 11
Students begin their GCSE/BTEC courses in Year 9. Some subjects begin the GCSE specification immediately, whilst others use Year 9, or part of it as a foundation year to prepare for GCSE. All students study English Language, Mathematics, the Science double award and core PE, with a number of students also studying English Literature in Year 11. Students then choose two options with a view that these may be pursued as a post-16 option or area of interest. Our development of the curriculum in Key Stage 4 reflects our steadfast determination to remove the stubborn link between disadvantage and poor educational outcomes, which in turn lead to drastically restricted Post-16 options. Nationally, 57% of Alternative Provision students go onto further education, employment or training. The Stephen Longfellow Academy are proud to report that 87% (2017/18) and 89% (2018/19) successfully accessed sustained post 16 opportunities.
|Subject||Number of lessons|
|Option Subjects (2 options)|
|Subject||Number of lessons|
|BTEC Business Studies||4|
|BTEC Health and Social Care||4|
|BTEC Hospitality and Catering||4|
|BTEC Sport and Fitness||4|
|NCFE Health and Fitness||4|
|BTEC Construction (Leeds College of Building)||4|
A small number of year 10 and year 11 students will also embark on work experience placements supported by our dedicated careers advisor Raj Gill.
If you wish to find out more about our curriculum, please contact Marie Evans, Vice Principal.