Our approach to learning

Students learn and develop the knowledge, understanding and skills they need for the future across a broad range of subjects. Lessons are designed to inspire and engage students, whilst at the same time ensuring that they are fully prepared to be successful in achieving the qualifications they need for the future.

We have the highest aspirations for all our students and they are constantly challenged to achieve their best. Lessons are typified by students actively learning, through individual, paired and group work tasks, but also through direct instruction and demonstration from teachers.

As well as supporting students’ academic progress, the all-round experience at the academy develops the character and personal qualities needed for life. Lessons aim to instil a lifelong interest and appreciation of areas such as sport and the arts, whilst our Shenley Horizons character programme supports the development of our six virtues; Respect, resilience, self-belief, altruism, integrity and kindness. 

Gifted, Able and Talented Students

Students who are identified as being more able are routinely provided with additional “stretch and challenge” during lessons and as part of our enrichment programme. They are set aspirational targets and are supported in achieving excellence through differentiated teaching, activities and resources. In year 10, a group of students is currently taking part in TalentEd, which combines qualified teachers and small groups, in after school sessions, to raise aspiration and improve academic attainment.

English as an additional language

All students who are identified as having English as an additional language complete a series of assessments and take part in an induction week. This involves the Inclusion and Pastoral teams and students are allocated a ‘buddy’ student to help their day to day movement around the school. Additional support is provided for basic literacy skills as appropriate and all staff are informed of students’ needs. Some students are issued with iPads to support the translation of documents into the home language. 

Students with special educational needs and/or a disability

The Inclusion team work closely with all staff to ensure students with complex/ additional needs are well catered for. Staff are kept informed of all students’ needs and the best strategies to support students effectively. Some students with Literacy and/ or Numeracy needs are withdrawn from lessons and are supported through targeted intervention. These are small group sessions where students can access the additional support they may need. All students’ progress is carefully monitored to ensure every student reaches their full potential.

You can find more information about the support which we provide for students with special educational needs and/or a disability by clicking here

Key features of our curriculum

  • The timetable is mainly organised in half year blocks with additional staffing to create smaller teaching groups – the average class size is 25 students.
  • For most lessons students are placed in teaching sets according to ability and potential (we use KS2 SAT scores, together with with NFER Tests used to assess potential). Teaching set placement is reviewed termly following formal synoptic assessments.
  • We have retained wide subject choice for all students; whilst enabling them to achieve the EBACC combination if it is appropriate. Our emphasis is on the development of skills so that students are prepared for university, apprenticeships or employment when they leave the academy at 18.
  • Students make their GCSE and BTEC option choices at the end of Year 8.
  • Our whole school literacy and reading strategy supports outstanding progress in English for all students.
  • Through partnerships with business and external organisations our students can experience the professional world in Birmingham and beyond: KPMG, CBSO (we are their main partner), The Birmingham Rep Theatre Company, links with China through an international accountancy firm gives students the chance to travel to China and experience time in a Chinese school as well as visiting The Forbidden City and The Great Wall of China; the Outward Bound Trust; the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme; Birmingham University and Birmingham City Football Club.
  • A huge range of extra-curricular clubs operate across the academy; we aim for all students to commit to joining one of our many clubs in sports, performing arts and across the school.
  • All year 8 students take part in the residential trip to Aberdovey in the Spring term. Students cite this as being a life changing experience.
  • All students can learn a musical instrument in KS3, at no cost to parents/carers.
  • All students can be part of the many shows and concerts which are run throughout the year by the Performing Arts teams: e.g. the summer musical in 2017 was ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’.
  • We hold Artsmark Gold, which recognises excellence in all areas of the arts.
  • We are the Sports Hub for the primary schools in our local area; and teams represent the academy in a range of sports.
  • We have outstanding facilities, which support the delivery of the curriculum:
  • We have ICT suites / facilities in maths, technology, media, art and design as well as dedicated ICT suites and in the sixth form and library (LRC).
  • 2 Apple Mac suites and a dedicated recording studio in Music
  • Fully equipped professional standard theatre.
  • Superb sports facilities with over 37 acres.
  • Outdoor learning spaces include an amphitheatre, covered outdoor dining courtyard, sitting areas, MUGA (Multi Use Games Area) and extensive play space.
  • The LRC (Learning Resource Centre) is open before school and after school, with a full-time librarian available to help and support students with their studies.

“The school provides an extensive out of hours performing arts and sports provision”. (Ofsted, February 2014)

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