The recovery Curriculum
The past few months have been incredibly stressful and disruptive times for our young people. Students have had to deal with a lot of change and some of our community have had to deal with loss. Professor Barry Carpenter outlines 5 key losses that students have potentially faced:
- Loss of Routine
- Loss of Structure
- Loss of Friendship
- Loss of Opportunity
- Loss of Freedom
At Fortismere we have investigated the impact of these potential loses for individual students. As a result we have invested a lot of time developing an extraordinary curriculum that seeks to support our students with these losses through 5 key levers:
- Lever 1: Relationships – at Fortismere we believe that relationships between staff and students is vital to a supportive and effective learning environment.
- Lever 2: Metacognition (re-learning to learn). Students have been working at home for a long period of time without a teacher in the room with them. This has been amazing to watch as so many students took responsibility for their learning and really worked hard. Our teachers understand that students will need support and guidance as they relearn to learn, as such departments will be explicitly scaffolding teaching to grow confidence as a learner.
- Lever 3: Space – As a school we aim to provide a safe place to be, to rediscover self-image, esteem and confidence – in the classroom and the communal areas.
- Lever 4: Curriculum – We have designed a new curriculum that acknowledges and addresses the various and inevitable gaps that have occurred over Lockdown. (see below)
- Lever 5: Support – Over the first term we are working hard to support students that either feel left behind academically or have been identified by their teachers, with a set of afterschool and in school interventions.
Our response has also been influenced by Professor John Hattie who was the adviser for the New Zealand Qualifications Authority that oversaw school examinations after the devastating Christchurch earthquakes of 2011. Schools were closed for weeks and most students did not have the opportunity for online learning or discussion with teachers.
But results did not suffer and high school students did not drop out. "The students' performance actually went up in the final exams," Professor Hattie said. He said the difference was teachers focused on "what has to be learned" instead of getting through a lot of curriculum.
“Gaps in learning are a matter of serious concern, but they are not insurmountable. Whilst the gaps in curriculum and knowledge can be extensive, these can be repaired through a systematic approach to a well- planned recovery curriculum."
Staff have worked very hard at streamlining their departments' curriculum to focus on key knowledge and skills ("what has to be learned"), helping students to re-engage with their learning, as well as identifying gaps in learning and ensuring that these are revisited in lessons. These curriculum maps can be seen here.
Associate Assistant Headteachers
The school as appointed three associate Assistant Headteachers to oversee the implementation of the recovery curriculum at Fortismere.
Ms. H Wilson Recovery Curriculum Pastoral Lead, Associate Assistant Headteacher
"We know that the school closure will have had an impact on our students, so moving forward we must do our best to reengage them in all aspects of school life. The Back to School Survey sent out in September highlighted both the excitement and anxiety many of our students felt when returning to Fortismere. This pointed to the need to promote an active student voice and have a bigger focus on student mental health, which will be two of my priorities. By the end of this academic year I hope students are settled back into the rhythm of school life and are utilising the bank of resources and the pastoral support which will be on offer."
Ms. I Cuenca Recovery Curriculum Lead Ks4 and Yr12, Associate Assistant Headteacher
"There is no doubt 2020 has been a very challenging year and the majority of our students have been affected in one way or another by the national lockdown imposed in March. We understand some students struggled more on the academic side, others on the social/emotional side and quite a few of them suffered from both. The added pressure of national exams still going ahead is also creating an environment where our exam groups (Year 11 and Year 13) feel more stressed and stretched than ever. This is the reason why we have started early interventions for Options and soon for Core Subjects. These interventions are targeted for those who have been identified by their teachers as those who struggled the most during lockdown in order to give them the chance to recover the learning missed or misunderstood during Remote Learning. Once the first round of interventions is over, we will analyse data, ask students and teachers and do another round of interventions with the aim of inviting not only our targeted students but also all students who are feeling the pressure of exams and want to benefit from these extra lessons.
Regarding Year 10 and Year 12, we understand many have taken over completely new subjects and others reinforce the learning from the previous year in their GCSE or A Level years. However, after Christmas, we will be analysing which students would also benefit from some type of intervention (revision booklets, websites, extra homework, etc) in order to recover the loss of learning during lockdown. We all at Fortismere want our students to achieve their potential and we would not want for this not to happen due to the difficult circumstances they all have gone through."
Ms. R Sheldon Recovery Curriculum Lead Ks3 and Yr13, Associate Assistant Headteacher