Subject Leader: Mr T Heaton
The Social Sciences department has been judged outstanding; it is exemplary in many ways. The team are cohesive and talented. Results are consistently excellent and many students continue to study Social Sciences at university. The department are keen to evolve and are embracing the new technology to support and enhance the learning experience.
The drive, ambition and enthusiasm of the Subject Leader is one of the major strengths in this department. The entire Social Sciences team are on board with new initiatives, will offer suggestions, take the lead, have an excellent work ethic and are highly collaborative.
All A Level courses examined last year showed significant positive value added.
In both Psychology and Sociology, More Able Gifted and Talented students achieved particularly high value added, reflecting the emphasis on stretch and challenge last year. Both A2 courses had 98% pass rate. A2 Sociology had 100%D+, 92%C+ and 19% A and A*. A2 Psychology had 77%C+ and 25% A and A* with 6 students awarded an A*. Outstanding results in both subjects.
The teaching and learning of all observed lessons was judged as outstanding. Marking and assessment are also very strong, there is much consistency due to sharing of best practice and careful monitoring by the Subject Leader. Thorough target setting and tracking and monitoring of progress ensures students make sustained and positive progress. The use of learning tables to support the lesson content and provide differentiation in class for students are a huge success. Schemes of work are well planned and thought through with many different learning activities tailored to different learning styles. Extra lessons are run each week by the Subject Leader for Year 13 Psychology students on effective revision and exam techniques.
The environment for learning in Social Sciences is excellent; much thought has gone into the classroom environment which is based around the 5 senses. The Subject Leader rolls out his teaching and learning ideas more widely in the Sixth form Teaching and Learning Forum. Recent presentations have included : Growth Mindset, student organisation and motivation, innovative approaches to mock exams, revision and memory techniques and extra-curricular enrichment. He is also involved in sharing best practice with other subject leaders and TLR holders around the school.
Students' Views and Attitudes
Students commented in the questionnaire that they felt their teachers had high expectations, that they know how to improve their work and that lessons are planned and delivered to enable them to make strong progress. Students commented on the usefulness of the learning tables, the file structure to support organisation and how approachable and supportive the staff are. They appreciate the extra support after school and the enthusiasm of the teaching staff. Overall, the student voice questionnaires showed Social Science students to be very content happy and engaged with their studies.
Enrichment and intervention
The KS5 Literacy Leader is a member of the Social Sciences department. There are structured writing frames used to support students’ responses to essay questions in exams and activities in class to support use of key terminology and command words. There are 2 extra-curricular opportunities run regularly for students, the Psychology Society and the Social Sciences Clinic where students are invited to come along for support or are asked to attend to support progress. The Sixth Form CEC policy is used well to support students identified as struggling in some areas of their work. Relevant lectures, books, articles, exhibitions and plays are advertised to students.
24 students have gone on to study Psychology and/or Sociology and Criminology based degrees at a range of different universities for example, Bath, Bristol, SOAS, Sussex and Cardiff. The Social Science department put considerable emphasis and time into sharing post 18 courses and careers with their students; this is reflected in the number continuing in their studies at university.
Rolling out the second year of the new A Levels for Psychology and Sociology is a priority followed by evaluating and amending resources, lessons and SOW for these new courses. There is most change in the Psychology course in terms of increased mathematical content and different assessment criteria. The Subject Leader is ahead of the crowd with all of this very much in hand.