Sociology intent statement, schemes of work, learning journeys and assessment maps.
Is there a vision for Social Sciences and how does it reflect and support the school context?
To create curiosity in the social world and an understanding of our actions can shape our social environment, the behaviour of ourselves and others, and ultimately government & politics.
How has curriculum content been selected and how does this reflect the vision?
Key stage 4 and 5 content in Social Sciences has been determined by the AQA exam board which is used commonly across the department. This has been the result of investigation of the varying exam boards following new specifications in 2015 and 2017.
The AQA specifications reflect our department vision strongly as students develop a clear understanding (i) in Sociology of major theories of the social world (ii) in Psychology of approaches to understanding human behaviour
How clearly are the expectations and goals built into the curriculum?
Each module in all Social Sciences carries its own objectives and aims as laid out in the Topic Stories. These aims are conveyed to students within each module so that they can see the end intentions of their learning.
How does the curriculum develop understanding about key social scientific concepts?
Each subject as a new subject never studied before (except sociology for some) begins with a core module that includes core social scientific concepts that are central to the GCSE and A level course. Each of these core concepts is then explored in great depth over the next two years to ensure student comprehension and evaluation of them, preparing them for post-18 study or work.
For example, in Psychology students understand core approaches to human behaviour which are then repeatedly revisited throughout the course. Students will use this to create and carry out their own research in the mid-sixth form Summer break. In Sociology, students begin by learning core sociological theory like Marxism & Feminism, which are revisited in each and every topic studied thereafter without exception.
How good is teachers’ knowledge and knowledge of how Sociology is taught and learned?
Teacher knowledge is excellent; timetable usually allows for GCSE’s and A levels to be taught by subject specialists with experience in their subject areas. The department contains teachers with several years’ experience in teaching all three A levels on offer. This is evidenced from lesson observations, lesson planning and by action in the classroom.
How well does teaching embed secure understanding and how does assessment support this?
Teaching & assessment at key stage 4 and 5 is focused on the examination requirements set by AQA, for example by embedding routine opportunities for exam practice and paragraph writing. However, the AQA exam structures in all three subjects are clearly designed for skill development in the field of evaluative thinking, comparison and essay-writing, to embed & secure skills as well as knowledge.
How do high-quality resources support learning?
Students in Social Science benefit from having to be plugged in to the real world of their subjects. Students in Psychology & Sociology benefit from the use of subject booklets which are regularly updated to provide contemporary studies as examples, evidence & evaluation of theories.
Which teaching approaches work best in specific circumstances & why?
We use a variety of teaching approaches but our overall aim is to give students the knowledge, skills and abilities to understand and make informed decisions. In class, students use a range of learning styles including kinaesthetic card sorts, frequent self-research opportunities, application & evaluation tasks and skills tasks like essay-writing and comparative evaluation. In Psychology, students conduct their own research task in the mid-sixth form Summer break.
How do social scientific knowledge and skills prepare all students for the next stage of education?
With subject specialists who has experience of all three social sciences at university level, students are taught the links between core theoretical learning in sixth form and university. The AQA A levels provide an excellent grounding in each subject ready for university; for example; in psychology students learn to evaluate both theories and studies, as well as creating their own research; in sociology, students understand core theories but the focus is evaluating sociological concepts & ideas as well as research methods, which is compulsory at undergraduate level.
What do student outcomes tell us about the appropriateness of the curriculum intent?
To what extent have students progressed towards curriculum goals and evidenced what they can remember about the content studied?
Students are set high, aspirational targets using ALPS 3 as the benchmark. Assessment is ongoing but a major assessment point is given at the end of each topic. Outcomes are recorded in assessment books which a sticker at the front to monitor progress. This progress is then reported on at learning profile points twice annually. There are internal exams in June of year 12 and January of year 13. Within the department, 2019-2020 has seen a push on retrieval practice with tasks at least twice per week related to prior learning to ensure content can be recalled automatically from long-term (not short-term) memory.