Is there a vision for Sociology and how does it reflect and support the school context?
To create curiosity in the social world and an understanding of how our actions can shape our social environment, the inter-relationships between ourselves and others, and how students will take their place in the wider world as empathetic and thoughtful citizens, key to the school’s mission statement.
How clearly are the expectations and goals built into the curriculum?
Each module in Sociology carries its own objectives and aims as laid out in the Learning Journey and Medium Term Plans. These aims are conveyed to students within each module so that they can see the end intentions of their learning.
How has curriculum content been selected and how does this reflect the vision?
Key stage 4 and 5 content in Sociology 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 of major theories of the social world.
How does the curriculum develop understanding about key social scientific concepts?
Sociology courses begin 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 next steps. At A level, students begin by learning sociological theories such as Marxism & Feminism, which are revisited in each and every topic studied thereafter.
We have a two-year curriculum at both KS4 and KS5 which is divided into medium term plans for each topic, challenging the students deepen their understanding, introducing, and consolidating where appropriate new areas of the language, and promoting links between each new concept.
Collaborative, detailed and thorough curriculum planning lies at the heart of the departmental work. We use all available resources and teaching strategies to ensure that students have a comprehensive knowledge of the specifications and can go beyond what is taught in lessons. Techniques to help embed knowledge and help students master subject content are embedded in the curriculum. These are focussed on embedding challenge, metacognition, memory techniques, numeracy, and literacy into our departmental curriculum.
To complement the schemes of work and medium-term plans, students also engage in Sociology through student revision conferences with senior examiners and other experienced practitioners. These activities allow students to gain valuable insight into the subject and the demands of the examination. Visits from magistrates and the police are encouraged as well as trips, where possible, to London, and University faculties.
In Sociology we also implement our curriculum through using a variety of teaching strategies and learning styles, kinaesthetic tasks as well as more traditional skills practice.
At each topic each medium-term plan has support, core and extension objectives which make up our powerful knowledge.
How do high-quality resources support learning?
Students in Sociology benefit from having to be plugged in to the real world of their subjects. Students in Sociology benefit from the use of subject booklets which are regularly updated to provide knowledge from exam series and exam marking to provide new, evidence & evaluation of theories.
Our retrieval starters are based on questions which promote students’ retention of topics and key powerful knowledge.
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. Positive relationships are forged with students and a real love of the subject is fostered.
We invest time heavily in subject focused pedagogy. Teacher knowledge is excellent; the timetable usually allows for A levels to be taught by subject specialists with experience in their subject areas. The department contains teachers with several years’ experience overall as well as exam board marking experience.
We invest heavily in curriculum development. Curriculum development is a normally part of departmental activities and recent developments. 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. The AQA exam structures are clearly designed for skill development in the field of evaluative thinking, comparison, and essay-writing, to embed & secure skills as well as knowledge.
Assessment: Formative assessment is integral to everyday teaching within Sociology. It has the needs of our students at its core (to build up confidence and reduce anxiety) and it is embedded into teaching activities within each lesson. Via the use of formative assessment approaches, low stakes testing and retrieval practice techniques, our aim is to be best prepared to help our students to embed and use knowledge fluently to improve long term knowledge retention, to meet all students’ needs through differentiation and adaptation of teaching, and to achieve a greater equity of student outcomes. Key strategies of formative assessment within Sociology include regular vocabulary checks, questioning, AfL, starter activities
Sociology summative assessments are directly linked to AQA examination questions and PLCs and used to assess the security and depth of understanding a student has attained against the key course content, we have defined for them. They are consistent with departmental schemes of work and PLCs. They test the learning outcomes accurately and fairly and are capable of effectively differentiating levels of student achievement. Summative assessment helps us to know our students better, to assess their potential and improve performance.
Information from assessment is used to shape future curriculum plans. Evidence that this has occurred includes:
Following any key assessment or mock examination, there is a thorough moderation (see moderation folder). External examiners are used to lead the moderation for relevant papers. Assessments are based on past questions and booklets are constantly updated to reflect new learning form the exam series.
KS5 Results (including ISDR) Strengths:
2022: Alps 3
2021: Alps 2
2020: Alps 3
2019: Alps 2
2018: Alps 4
2017: Alps 3
KS4 Results Strengths
2022: Positive Residual in all groups.
-0.05 Subject Progress Index so close to 0
KS5 Results (including ISDR) Areas for Improvement:
Paper 1 Education – slightly below national on 30 marker educational polices and methods in context (needs more time practicing in context but that will happen this year with 3 split).
Paper 2 Topics – although above average on family 10 mark questions – yet still very few in 8-10 band. Mostly 7. Same for Marxism 20 marker, above national average but most on 14/20 – not pushing to top bands. Media below average on representations questions on ‘Age’ – practice more reasons why questions!
Paper 3 Crime – Slightly under again on 30 marker on Crime, very few gaining above 20 marks. Quite a bit below similar centres and national on 20 mark ‘social action’ – need more time for teaching theories?
KS4: Areas for Improvement
2022: Poor performance by some weaker and disengaged students, which affected the progress indicators