King Edward VI Five Ways School is a traditional, selective and co-educational state grammar school for ages 11-18. It is located in Bartley Green, near Halesowen.
Creation of an Arts timeline: Working with local illustrator Jessie Bayliss (http://www.jessiebayliss.com/) the art department designed a 35 metre timeline to run up and down the Art corridor. The idea was to cover arts movements over a 100 year period, naming key artists along the way. The corridor has a range of black and white illustrations drawn within frames, opposing a series of brightly covered paintings of department heroe's Frida Kahlo and Grayson Perry.
Artist of the week: Part of the timeline design was to create an area where the students can be part of this long list of artists by becoming 'Artist of the Week'. An elaborate frame was drawn onto the wall to really excite and celebrate the students and their successes. Each week a student who has produced something rather wonderful is selected. Their work is framed and displayed for a week. The photograph is shown on our Twitter feed (https://twitter.com/SchoolArtDept) and celebrated during the whole school assemblies. The exposure has been lovely, with the most recent (at time of press) having been viewed 3939 times over a single week.
Kiln: As part of their targets the department acquired and installed a second hand kiln. The aim is to introduce ceramics into the curriculum over the next year. In the meantime, they are having fun re-learning their ceramic skills by creating samples and a kiln 'God' Nigel the rabbit.
Exhibition: The department celebrated this year's successes by running their second large exhibition at our school's newly completed Sports Pavillion. The work was viewed for one evening by pupils, their friends and their families. The event was well received and helped to show our works off.
The Big Sleuth, Summer 2017: Birmingham help its Wild in Art celebration with the theme of The Big Sleuth. These were large Sun Bears that were to be designed and painted by students. A competition was run for students to design their own bear. Three students were selected with each having designs around the theme of space. The bear was displayed in St. Martin's in the Bullring, Birmingham.
The English department has introduced a new way to support year 11s by running a set of bespoke, one-off workshops which would address specific skills and content. The initiative was a great success and was presented in Subject Leader's meetings as a model of best practice.
The whole department contributed to the workshops and it was refreshing for students to hear a different teaching voice and a new way of delivering material. Each student received a handout to guide them through the workshop, and a pack of resources and practice questions.
Students were invited individually and parents informed on a one-to-one basis via email. This communication led to several useful conversations between parents and staff about any concerns, revision progress or stresses the students were undergoing and led to a better understanding of the cohort's individual needs at a pressured time.
The parental and student response was superb: parents were grateful and students found the workshops reassuring and productive. So much so, that when the first, compulsory round was over, we opened each workshop up to a second round and invited students to sign up.
When results arrived in August, the department received the best Language results in years, and the Literature results were as strong as before, despite being arguably much more challenging. This year's series of workshops are now in full flow.
The focus of the Maths department's project is Problem Solving for KS4 Mathematicians. They have been working on building and exploring the problem solving skills of their students. In light of the new focus for the GCSE exams the resources have been incorporated into the schemes of work, encouraging staff to use 'Problem Solving Weeks' and get students thinking critically about their approaches to questions and communication of their answers.
Modern Languages department
As part of the drive to raise standards and improve progress in KS3, the department have been developing a new skills based scheme of work in French and German. The focus has been on the mastery of key skills and grammar, and spontaneous speech.
The beginning of the year kicked off with a short series of lessons devoted to phonics, and in particular to the sound-spelling links of the languages taught. They have carried this theme through the year by encouraging student target language use in lessons and by offering more opportunities for reading out loud in the foreign language.
The department has developed knowledge organisers for all KS3 pupils which contain a classroom language reference sheet which pupils are encouraged to refer to in lessons. In the summer term a visit is planned to other schools so students can see spontaneous speech in action in other settings.
The theme of mastery has been introduced into homework tasks and they try to include a skills focus in the tasks they set. At least one aspect of mastery is included in each topic, and this is monitored as students progress through the topic and features in either the final topic assessment, or a specific mastery test. These have included such aspects as adjective endings and the perfect tense. Details of these points also appear in the knowledge organisers, alongside the key language.
Next year the project will move forward to involve research into memory techniques with the aim of better supporting students to achieve mastery and to become more spontaneous speakers of French and/or German.
The History department are looking at changing their Key Stage 3 curriculum in response to the new changes implemented at GCSE and A Level. Their focus is on building the skills that younger students need to succeed when they reach Year 11. All of the assessments will be based around the stems that the new GCSE provides, and progress will be measured in the context of the new award. They want to build a curriculum looking at challenging themes whilst exploring content is traditionally not studied at that level. For example, the theme of Civil Rights will focus on a not only the USA but will also look at comparing this with Apartheid and the movement for women’s suffrage.
Some of the Year 10 students in October visited Berlin to gain a first-hand understanding of many of the topics that they are studying as part of the new GCSE. They visited many of the memorials, such as the Soviet Tiergarten and the Gleis 17 Grunewald Bahnof, as well as visiting the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. They had the opportunity to visit parts of the Berlin Wall, which is something that they will study as part of the Cold War topic.
The department will be commencing their annual Battlefields trip with Year 8 in May as a follow on from their World War One topic.
The School Observatory project is now in its second year. Highlights from recent months include the first cohort of year 11 students from King Edward VI Five Ways school and the local partner school Bartley Green coming to the end of their GCSE Astronomy course, and a well attended and successful 'Parent and Child Rocket Workshop'. This was for year 7 students to inspire them with Science at the start of their school journey and help them and their parents integrate into the school community.