Our curriculum is predicated on our core principles:
Adapt, Accommodate, Assure, Achieve.
We adapt our curriculum around the needs and interests of our students. We believe that learning is for everyone, it is a transformative experience at the core of being human. All students at Polaris are welcome, encouraged, and supported to attend lessons in the main body of the school where subject specialists teach them alongside their peers, Newmarket Academy’s curriculum offer can be found here https://newmarketacademy.co.uk/curriculum. Where a student does not feel ready for this, we liaise with the subject specialist teachers to give our young people access to the same coherently planned and sequenced learning as their peers. We use technology to stream or record lessons from the mainstream school and we align lesson plans and schemes of work to aid smooth transition.
We recognise that due to their individual needs, our young people may have missed the crucial developmental experiences necessary to engage and explore a broad and rich curriculum. We therefore keep the curriculum as broad as possible for as long as possible. We aim to ensure that our young people have not only had access to the same broad and balanced curriculum as their peers but that they are supported to participate in this curriculum in a meaningful and personal way. In key stage 3 this means that we follow the national curriculum, in accordance with our students’ stage. Enrichment is provided through AQA unit awards across myriad subjects, the Trinity College London Arts Award, developing critical thinking, problem solving and thematic study.
At key stage 4 we offer an ambitious curriculum tailored to our students’ interests and strengths wherever possible. In addition to the mainstream curriculum offer, we endeavour to offer GCSEs and vocational qualifications aligned with a student’s interests. For example, in response to our students’ interests and aspirations we have offered GCSEs in: Classical Civilisation, Psychology, German; OCR Technical Qualifications in Health and Social Care and vocational qualifications through ASDAN. We also offer our young people the chance to study the foundation (level 1) or higher (level 2) project qualification where they can develop their independent research skills in an area of their own interest; we also encourage our students to access Open University courses.
Our curriculum implementation is based on the principles of universal design for learning, which is an inclusive pedagogy. We accommodate individual learning differences and learning styles. We accommodate to our students’ learning needs by offering different environments for learning: collaborative classroom learning, parallel learning, individual learning spaces, and outdoor learning. We offer our students autonomy within their learning which encourages resilience, responsibility and engagement. We adapt materials through multiple media to our learners’ preferences and sensory profiles. We offer different methods of instruction and acquisition of knowledge such as group discussion, independent study and learning through play. We offer a wide variety of alternatives for students to demonstrate and consolidate their knowledge such as test the teacher, multimedia creations, or mind mapping, and we assess that knowledge in a way that gives our young people a level playing field.
We celebrate neurodiversity! Our young people are taught to frame themselves as human, unique and worthy. We encourage our young people to embrace what makes them unique and to remember that everyone is different, not less. We actively and authentically praise, support and cheerlead our young people through their learning and we support them to accept that they are worthy of this. We write a weekly celebration letter to each of our young people and their parents to reflect on and celebrate their learning, and the head teacher visits weekly to celebrate our young people’s triumphs. We encourage a growth mind set where there are no failures just opportunities to learn. We teach self-compassion so that the young people can assure themselves and others that learning is for them and that all progress is positive.
We support all our young people to achieve their ambitions and dreams and to aspire for the life they want without limits. We plan frequent opportunities for success so that our young people can see tangible evidence of their own worth and value. We aspire for our young people to have the same opportunities as their peers and plan educational visits to enrich learning and visitors to Polaris to enthuse and inspire. Our young people are encouraged to set their own goals for achievement through mentalising themselves and encouraged to recognise these achievements. All parents are a crucial part of their child’s success and we liaise frequently with parents and involve them in every facet of their child’s learning. Working as a team there is no limit to what we can achieve.
It is vitally important that our young people receive rich and sustained opportunities to develop their capital so that they can take up their place in the world. Building this capital is a key outcome of our AMBIT approach and is woven throughout our curriculum. At Polaris, capital is conceptualised as comprising: