Holyhead is an 11-18 Academy in the top 10% of deprived areas nationally, with 64% pupils entitled to free school meals
To redesign the Science curriculum for the first cohort of students sitting the new GCSE specification in order to raise attainment.
In 2014 56% of students gained two Science GCSEs at A*-C and the goal was to increase this to around 65% in line with the national average.
Activities were held to raise the profile of science across the school, e.g. a university lecturer gave talks on medical career opportunities, a day of problem solving workshops for Year 6 students was held and an array of practical demonstrations was put on during open day for potential Year 7 pupils and their parents. Assessments were made more robust and the underperforming students were highlighted to teachers who carried out intervention strategies both in lessons and outside of lesson time. Work on the Key Stage 3 curriculum made it more efficient and effective. Exam-style assessments were placed in each topic folder to help teachers support students to practise exam technique, which was a significant area of challenge for the EAL students.
The decision was made to only offer separate sciences to selected Year 8 pupils who were high attainers. The schemes of work for the new specifications were written by subject specialists and resources shared. The required practicals were filmed so all staff could challenge students.
It became apparent that some of the main feeder primary schools did not have a robust Science curriculum and so an extended topic around the basic principles of scientific method was introduced in Year 7. Much work was done around the Key Stage 3 curriculum with the introduction of the new KS4 specification. Staff highlighted repetition, which provided an opportunity to eliminate the KS3/4 transition by creating a 5 year curriculum.
Learning walks, student voice, exam results
The number of students gaining two GCSEs at A*-C increased from 56% to 76%.
The school is now in the top 20% nationally. Science was the only subject mentioned in the overview of the RAISE document, which noted the exceptional value added in the sciences. With the progress of higher prior attainers being outstanding, the departmental focus will now be on middle prior attainers.
I now feel our students are better prepared for the rigour of the new examinations and that by taking some of the focus away from Year 11 students to allow for mastery in all years will allow us to maintain the positive value added for the department. The success is due to the amazing, dedicated and committed staff we have within the department.
Nicky Smith, email@example.com