University of Birmingham School is a school for Birmingham. Our nodal admissions system draws pupils from across the city; our School is truly diverse and comprehensive by design. All of its young people, regardless of background and prior learning experiences, have access to the best that has been thought, said, written and discovered so that they can go on to flourish in their own lives. The aim is to deliver this through an academically-focused and knowledge-rich curriculum, underpinned by a ‘taught, caught and sought’ Character Education programme, so that pupils and students develop the virtues, and embed the knowledge, needed to understand the world, contribute to society, and change it for the better. The School takes an evidence-informed approach to teaching and learning, aiming to both benefit from, and contribute to, national and international developments in educational research and practice.
It is now believed that the knowledge in an individual’s long-term memory allows them to think deeply and critically about a subject, by essentially acting as an expansion to their working memory capacity. Knowledge of procedures and facts are not just what we think about, but what we think with. Any interpretation of the world around us, and ability to understand concepts and solve problems is dependent upon what a person already knows, can do, and comprehend. In order to enable all learners to succeed academically, and continue to learn well into adulthood, there must be a focus on developing a wide knowledge base, rich in complex vocabulary; not only to facilitate easier understanding of new information, but also to foster an ability to solve challenging problems. Where relevant and appropriate, this knowledge-rich curriculum must reflect the multitude of perspectives and backgrounds representative of the city of Birmingham’s diverse population that the School is proud to serve.
The entire learning journey from Year 6 to undergraduate study is plotted in each subject – crossing key stages – but taking account of the external examinations along the way. Designed by subject specialists, the curriculum aims to inspire a curiosity and love for the subject by tapping into the exciting stories and wonderful experiences beyond the core knowledge, whilst giving pupils the solid foundations necessary to ensure academic success. Rather than just ‘teaching chemistry or languages’ the aim is to create young chemists and linguists. The relationship with the University of Birmingham helps to support this, with visitors from researchers, undergraduates and other professionals from relevant university departments.
The principles and rationale outlined in the curriculum intent section can only be achieved if the curriculum is implemented effectively. To facilitate this, University of Birmingham School empowers Subject Leaders to shape their schemes of learning around a broad set of expectations, but with sufficient freedom as to recognise the subject and key stage nuance and variation. All pupils and students should receive the same quality of curriculum experience, regardless of the level of expertise and experience of teacher. To support this, all pupils and students at KS4 and KS5 receive a copy of a recommended course textbook at the beginning of their study in Year 10 and 12 respectively. Subject Leaders are responsible for the ‘minimum guarantee’ in classrooms, and do this by ensuring that support materials are in place for teachers, and developmental conversations around the curriculum are a regular feature of meeting cycles. Each subject area has a ‘Curriculum Outline’ document that illustrates the sequencing of units of work, term-by-term and broad strands of substantive and disciplinary knowledge that span across units and years. Parent/carer friendly versions can be accessed here: Key Stage 3 & 4 and Key Stage 5.