The Aylesbury Vale Academy (AVA) is an all through academy and the curriculum we follow develops and grows with our pupils as they move from EYFS, through each of the key stages and into the sixth form. The aim of this curriculum is to provide a broad and balanced education which prepares our pupils by giving the best possible chances for their future life choices and helping them to discover their role in society, where they will make valued contributions. In order to meet these aims the AVA curriculum has been designed to have three threads running through it which we refer to as the 3 Cs: Cognition, Culture and Core.
We believe that the 3 Cs are integral to meeting the needs of our pupils. AVA is a large community and a high proportion of our pupils come from a background where they benefit from being taught how to become effective independent learners. The Cognition Curriculum aims to teach pupils how to learn effectively and with an ever-increasing degree of independence.
Many of our pupils do not get the opportunity to travel in the UK or abroad, visit museums or enjoy other culturally enhancing opportunities. This places them at a cultural, and therefore, academic disadvantage. The Cultural Curriculum helps to put our pupils on an equal footing with their peers.
Between 2016 and 2019 a focus on the Core Curriculum helped the P8 measure to rise from -0.64 to 0.21. Pupils now leave having made more progress because they attended AVA. AVA has made a difference to their lives, opening doors which would have otherwise remained closed and providing them with routes into further education or employment which otherwise would not have been available. The difficulties faced in 2020 and 2021 impacted on the delivery all areas of the AVA Curriculum and have underlined the importance of maintaining this focus on providing pupils with greater life chances through the breadth and ambition of their experience at AVA.
The Cognition Curriculum teaches pupils how to become effective learners by developing the key skills of Reciprocity, Resilience, Resourcefulness, Reflectiveness and Recall. We teach these skills explicitly because they help our pupils to become faster, better and more confident learners. By investing in the development of these learning skills at early stages in the curriculum our pupils benefit as they are able to use their learning skills throughout their education and life. The investment pays dividends over time both at later stages in the curriculum and beyond as they become lifelong learners.
Reciprocation – working together to become better learners
Resilience – believing in ourselves and viewing challenges as opportunities for better learning
Resourcefulness – exploring a variety of creative strategies to overcome challenges
Reflectiveness – thinking about what we are good at and what we need to do to improve to become better learners
Recall – using a variety of ways to remember the facts, ideas and techniques that we have learned
The Culture Curriculum is what we add to the National Curriculum to develop AVA pupils into well-balanced citizens and it is underpinned by our drive to ensure our pupils read widely and regularly, both for enjoyment and to learn. Pupils take part in local and international visits and meet regular visitors to stretch their learning and share experiences beyond what is possible in the traditional classroom environment. We offer an extensive extra-curricular provision throughout, which grows to become the Extended School day in Key Stage 4.
Reading – reading allows our pupils to dive into experiences which they would otherwise not access. Many of our pupils join AVA with below average reading ages and we are determined to ensure that this trend is reversed over time. Reading is a skill which underpins every other aspect of our curriculum and we are keen to use reading to allow pupils to explore their own passions and interests as well as providing a broader experience in their taught lessons.
Enrichment – our aim is for every child to participate in at least one excursion per academic year to ensure that they are able to link the learning which takes place inside the classroom to the real world, including primary WOW moments which enrich learning.
Visitors - We regularly invite experts into AVA to inform pupils about their field of expertise. We aim for every child to receive at least one visitor per academic year to share the experiences which build on and reach beyond what is learnt in the classroom.
Extra-curricular - Pupils have a huge variety of extra-curricular opportunities which are offered for them to select on a voluntary basis from Year 2 to Year 9. In Year 10 and Year 11 pupils are given an extended timetable which ensures that they take part in a range of extra-curricular activities broadening and enriching their experiences at AVA considerably.
Collective worship – the AVA community is underpinned by acts of collective worship. Pupils and staff gather together at least once a week in year groups or key stages. These opportunities are used to share our core values and beliefs. We also offer daily opportunities for reflection, within the classroom, assemblies and quiet times.
Character education – AVA serves a diverse community, working with pupils from a broad range of faiths, and some with none. Our core values of Respect, Aspiration, and Resilience apply to every member of our community and work in harmony with Christian and British values.
The Core Curriculum at AVA varies as pupils travel through the school. This always includes the core features of Reading, Writing and Numeracy. In EYFS pupils are introduced to letters, sounds and number. In KS1 the fundamental skills of the letter formation, applications within numeracy, inference and deduction in reading are nurtured. In KS2 we build on this to ensure that pupils can access the core key skills and apply to all areas of the curriculum. Primary age pupils are taught by subject specialists in some subjects such as PE, MFL and Music.
In KS3 pupils are almost exclusively taught by subject specialists and they follow a timetable which covers 12 subjects. In KS4 all pupils continue to follow Maths, English, Science, PE, RS and PSHE along with a 4 options. We believe the options available to AVA pupils are vast and we offer advice and guidance to ensure that every pupil is able to follow a route which is suitable for their skills and abilities as well as preparing them effectively for their next steps.
The extended school day allows pupils to choose a further options from a range of many different team building, creative, sporting and academic activities. There is an assumed knowledge in many GCSE board specifications which many of our pupils have not had the opportunity to obtain putting them at an academic disadvantage. The 3 year KS4 gives us the opportunity to fill these gaps and supports the breadth provided by the extended school day, putting our pupils on and equal footing with their peers nationally.