As part of our continued school improvement journey, Leytonstone School will be adopting a 2 week timetable model from September 2018. In this letter I would like to take the opportunity to explain what this means, why we think it will benefit students and drive up standards further and also the implications for the timings of the school day. Please be aware that we welcome full discussion with any parent or career about this and will ensure that any concerns you may have will be addressed sensitively and directly.
Currently we operate a 1 week timetable of 25 1 hour lessons. This is a very traditional model and we believe it does not meet the changing nature of learning in 2018 or help address the real challenges of new specifications at GCSE – which I’m sure you are aware have made both styles of assessment radically different and also requires deeper knowledge of all subjects. All GCSE subjects now require students to study knowledge and skills only previously studied at A level. Few subjects have coursework elements and even in these there is a sharp reduction in coursework. Students are assessed through longer and much more challenging terminal exams. There is no modular learning of type seen in the past.
We welcome these changes as they challenge young people and we see them rise to these increased challenges. The new specifications represent better, deeper learning. However, our models of teaching have to adapt so that we can ensure students are fully prepared and confident in meeting the challenges.
A 2 week timetable enables flexibility of timings of lessons as well as allowing for greater learning time to be maximised. Over 2 weeks – week A and week B – we organise 6 lessons a day (rather than the current 5) into 50 min blocks. In reality, most subjects will have 100 minute double lessons – particularly at KS4.
The benefits are manifold. Firstly, more learning time is generated by less movement round the building. This gains an additional 20 minutes a day. Partly movement between lessons is a challenge for us because of the physical layout of our site and the length of time it takes to travel from 1 end to another. The gain in additional learning time over 2 weeks ensures that we can ensure students continue to have a very broad curriculum offer at KS3 and GCSE. Many schools are being forced into decisions to cut down on subjects seen as ‘non-essential’ because of the difficulty of the new assessments through exams. Most schools are only allowing 3 option choices at GCSE. We are committed to 4 option choices for our young people. Narrowing choice is the enemy of inspiration and engagement and we will continue to strongly resist this.
Across the country technology and arts based subjects in particular have taken swinging cuts. At Leytonstone we believe it is essential all students have access to high quality learning in music, drama, art, graphics, textiles, food, product design and resistant materials at KS3. Again and again we see that these subjects can inspire young people along with the traditional academic subjects. We believe that students should choose freely the subjects that they love at GSCE and include business, media studies, PE as well. This timetable model enables us to keep this vision of a broad and deep curriculum a reality.
In addition, shorter lessons in some KS3 students will suit younger children in certain subjects, for example languages where a ‘little but often’ approach is best. Longer 100 minute lessons will be of real benefit in areas such as science where experiments can be more consistently implemented, English where written assessments can be integrated and all practical subjects where students can fully finish projects. So more learning time and better learning are the real benefits.
The day will be slightly longer – by 10 minutes, except for Wednesdays when the school day will end at the end of lunch at 1:30pm. This is to enable rigorous assessment by teachers of students’ work and curriculum planning – critical if we are to fully meet the needs of students with these new challenges. These revised school opening times will present some difficulties we know for families, particularly of younger children. We are committed to supporting families with this and will run a very full extra-curricular offer on Wednesdays so that any child can stay to the normal closing time.
The school day will look as follows:
|08:40 – 09:00
|09:00 – 09:50
|09:50 – 10:40
|10:40 – 11:00
|11:00 – 11:50
|11:50 – 12:40
|12:40 – 13:30
|13:30 – 14:20
|14:20 – 15:10