‘The Castle Mead Academy curriculum aims to give scholars access to the best that has been thought, said, written and created in every field of human endeavour, so that they are knowledgeable, critical and enriched.’
At Castle Mead Academy, we believe that knowledge is power. Our curriculum is designed to equip our scholars with knowledge that provides them with new ways of thinking about the world and has the capacity to take them beyond their own original experiences. Our focus on powerful knowledge means that every single lesson at Castle Mead helps us to realise our vision of giving our scholars access to the very best that has been thought and said. Our centrally-planned curriculum means that our teachers are not required to plan lessons from scratch. Rather, they spend their time refining learning materials, scripting questions and practising their exposition. We focus on the work that matters, so that our teachers can teach and our scholars can learn.
Three key principles underpin curriculum thinking and design at CMA:
- Aligned autonomy
Our teachers are experts in their subjects and have the autonomy to use their specialist knowledge in a way that honours their subject. We strongly believe in the power of subject expertise to breathe life into a subject. Careful and critical selection of rich knowledge that is deliberately sequenced, interwoven and revisited for maximum learning potential and for maximum joy, can only be obtained by a team of passionate subject experts who feel empowered to wield their autonomy. That autonomy is aligned with our values as a school and our Invigorating Instruction framework for excellent teaching, but we are not in the business of promoting reductivism or genericism; one size does not fit all, and the onus is on the curriculum leader and their team to make decisions that do right by their subject.
It is unequivocal that at CMA everyone is capable of excellence. Inextricably linked to this is the truth that everyone is deserving of powerful knowledge. This imperative underpins all that we do. We know well that learning builds on learning. The more a person knows, the more a person can learn. Hirsch calls existing knowledge “mental Velcro”, which allows for additional knowledge to become attached to it. We make sure that our curriculum- rich in connections and golden threads- is crafted in such a way that scholars’ ‘mental Velcro’ is constantly being added to, and being strengthened, so that every single one of our scholars know more and can do more over time. We are also driven by the imperative to nurture happy, well-rounded young people and we believe that such happiness comes from learning.
‘The continued discourse and the shaping of curriculum over time, and the presence of teachers in this conversation, are vital. There is not an implicit compulsion to accept the status quo; in fact, the opposite is true.’ This quote from Ruth Ashbee embodies our belief in the importance of ongoing critique of the curriculum. Whilst some curriculum content is statutory and/or shaped by examination specifications, the curriculum ought not to be written in ‘tablets of stone’ (Ashbee). What constitutes powerful knowledge, and the ‘best that has been thought and said’ can be decided only through critique and challenge led by subject experts. These conversations happen every day at CMA: passionate colleagues challenge each other’s thinking when reviewing and refining the curriculum, and senior leaders and curriculum leaders engage in critical conversations about the curriculum in their weekly meetings. What knowledge is included and why is a constant subject for interrogation and the ubiquity of this discourse means that curriculum is forever at CMA.
An important part of this work to critique the curriculum is to ensure that the rich knowledge contained within it is diverse and recognises, and represents, a multitude of voices. In making curricular decisions we must continue to critically challenge the why, recognising the potential for bias as we do so. Such conversations can disrupt our thinking and even cause discomfort, but it is vital for us to question who decides what knowledge is best, and to challenge the status quo. The window and mirror analogy is helpful here:
‘There is a need for curriculum to function as both window and as mirror, in order to reflect and reveal most accurately both a multicultural world and the student herself or himself. If the student is understood as occupying a dwelling of self, education needs to enable the student to look through window frames in order to see the realities of others and into mirrors in order to see her/his own reality reflected. Knowledge of both types of framing is basic to a balanced education which is committed to affirming the essential dialectic between the self and the world.’
KS3 Curriculum Allocations
KS4 Curriculum Allocations
The curriculum model allows the special focus on the EBacc subjects, as always intended from the original bid for CMA. The intention is for as many scholars as possible to study the EBacc to GCSE. Research has shown that studying the subjects included in the Ebacc provides young people with greater opportunities and increases the likelihood that they will stay on in full-time education.
In KS3, relative extended learning time in the core subjects allows a tight focus on these subjects and allows depth to the curriculum. The discrete Reading for Pleasure lesson is in keeping with our belief that ‘reading trumps everything’- scholars need to be able to read fluently and with enjoyment in order to access the whole curriculum.
The KS4 curriculum is now set, after much deliberation and consultation. In line with the EBacc aims, as many scholars as possible should study either geography or history. All scholars will study French also, which will provide them with a wealth of opportunities for the future in terms of employment and travel, as well as opening the door different cultures. We want out scholars to be tolerant, and to actively learn about other cultures, traditions and religions: all scholars will study RE to GCSE as part of their core curriculum as we believe this subject has enormous value, both in terms of academia and enrichment.
Scholars have an extended Citizenship session once per half-term, which is supplemented by a carefully planned assembly calendar along with the PSHE curriculum and RE curricula.
For information on the curriculum in each of our subjects, please see the pages at the bottom of this page.
Courses available to scholars at KS4
The CMA Core Curriculum
- GCSE English Language
- GCSE English Literature
- GCSE Mathematics
- GCSE Combined Science or Separate Sciences
- GCSE French
- GCSE Religious Studies Scholars
- Core PE (a non-examination subject)
- Citizenship (a non-examination subject)
- GCSE Art & Design
- GCSE Computer Science
- GCSE Drama
- GCSE Food Preparation and Nutrition
- GCSE Music
- GCSE Physical Education
- BETC Sport
- GCSE Art Textiles
More information about each of these courses can be found in our Options Booklet.
PSHE at Castle Mead
Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education at Castle Mead Academy is a key part of our curriculum offer. The PSHE curriculum is designed to help scholars of CMA become citizens of Leicester as well as understand their place in a global community. Furthermore, the curriculum is designed to be reflective of the needs of CMA scholars and this flexibility allows the PSHE offer to be as inclusive and tailored as needed.
During Key Stage 3 scholars will build on the attributes they acquired during their time at primary school. Between years 7 and 9 PSHE will address the changes young people are experiencing as they move into their adolescence and gain increasing independence. Scholars will learn to manage diverse relationships, their online lives, and the pressures of media as well as the changes which their bodies are experiencing.
During Key Stage 4 scholars will further deepen their understanding gained at Key Stage 3 and will extend this knowledge into years 10 and 11. Here there will be a greater emphasis on scholars moving towards an independent, adult life as they take on more responsibility for themselves and others.
Our PSHE curriculum is centred around three main themes: health and wellbeing, relationships and living in the wider world. These themes are addressed throughout Key Stages 3 and 4 and they are broken down into different topics.
Scholars will learn about 4 topics each year. These topics are explored in tutor groups with their form tutors. We use a planned and coherent tutor time programme for the delivery of these sessions. Content is delivered to scholars through Knowledge, Reading for Excellence, Debate and Discussion as well as Careers sessions. The topics also complement our assembly calendar where appropriate.