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Our curriculum supports our students to achieve academic and vocational excellence, fosters a lifelong love of learning and empowers them to become leaders that will make a positive contribution in their communities and the wider world.
Merchants' Academy Primary
At Merchants’ Academy Primary, we aim for all children to demonstrate our strong set of values, to take pride in themselves and their community and to be fully equipped to be a force for positive change in their future society. Our carefully sequenced, knowledge-rich curriculum draws its themes from a cornerstone text, allowing children to revisit ideas, discussions and build knowledge and understanding gradually across a range of subjects and topics. Running alongside our broad, rich curriculum is a comprehensive map of experiences, trips, visits and extra-curricular activities that both inspire and contextualise learning.
We are highly aware that in today’s world, with opportunities and therefore expectations for communication increasing at a fast pace, we need to equip our students with effective communication skills in order for them to flourish and succeed. For this reason, we prioritise reading, writing and oracy in our curriculum, placing great emphasis on vocabulary acquisition and the importance of Standard English in all subjects. We use 'Power of Reading' texts which put ‘expertly chosen, quality children’s books at the heart of all learning’. We are passionate about the power of literature in providing a medium through which children can experience and discover the world, imagine and develop their understanding of people, places and times beyond their everyday experiences.
We follow the National Curriculum but have invested significant thought into shaping our own curriculum to be broad and rich, engaging children with matters pertinent to their locality and contemporary society. In addition, we aim to equip children with the knowledge and confidence they need to challenge viewpoints which may be biased or prejudiced and to champion worthy causes in order that they can play their part in making the world a better place for all.
Merchants' Academy Secondary
The curriculum at Merchants’ Academy Secondary, developed in partnership with our sponsors the University of Bristol and the Society of Merchant Venturers, is informed by a detailed understanding of the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to achieve academic and vocational excellence in post-16 education and beyond. Our planning ensures that students in all phases benefit from a rigorous, intelligently sequenced and exciting curriculum that builds on prior learning and prepares them for future success.
At Merchants’ Academy Secondary, we are driven by a strong commitment to equity and social justice. We are explicit about the knowledge we expect students to learn because we believe that all students have an entitlement to powerful knowledge that takes them beyond their own experiences and empowers them to take part in ‘the great conversation of humankind.’ We value knowledge but we recognise that to thrive in a rapidly changing world our students must have the skills and confidence to apply their knowledge in different contexts and be able to debate, interpret and challenge accepted wisdom.
Rooted in the strongest available evidence about how pupils learn and retain knowledge, our curriculum develops subject expertise by ensuring time for deep learning to take place. Fewer topics taught in greater depth allows time for discussion, debate, making mistakes and addressing misconceptions. We understand that learning is made accessible when our students are supported to make connections within and between subjects and so our curriculum is focused on the big ideas and concepts that underpin each subject. We respect the integrity of subject disciplines while also providing students with opportunities to engage in authentic, meaningful inter-disciplinary work.
Significant time is allocated to the core subjects of English, Maths and Science [8 hours per fortnight at Key Stage 3; 9-10 hours at Key Stage 4] because we believe that a strong grounding in these subjects is essential to equip students for future careers and further study and to support development in other subjects. We teach literacy and numeracy across the curriculum with a strong focus on developing student oracy. As a highly inclusive school, we provide students working below age related expectations with targeted support to accelerate their progress.
Our curriculum is underpinned by an unwavering belief that every child has the potential to achieve at a high level but that each child has their own unique path to success. We have a broad curriculum offer that incorporates a wide range of traditional academic subjects as well as vocational subjects and we value them equally. Our students have a wide array of interests and talents and the breath of our curriculum offer reflects our commitment to nurturing these and supporting all of our students to find their passion and to excel.
Our curriculum is designed to develop student leadership. One of the ways we do this is through our focus on oracy because we know that successful leaders are able to communicate effectively and because the ability to articulate themselves clearly and fluently is integral to our students’ future success and happiness. Leadership skills are also developed through our extensive extra-curricular provision, enhanced through partnerships with organisations such as DebateMate, Into University and South Bristol Youth. We are proud of our well-established Duke of Edinburgh programme and to be one of only a small number of state schools to host its own Combined Cadet Force Unit.
We recognise the vital importance of learning and development that takes place outside the classroom. Support from the Society of Merchant Venturers and other partners allows us to invest heavily in providing our students with a vast range of opportunities aimed at developing their cultural capital. Consequently, students at Merchants Academy have a wealth of experiences open to them, whether it is visiting Madrid with the Spanish department, taking part in a visit to the Western Front battlefields or participating in the Future Brunels programme. Our sponsorship by the Society of Merchant Venturers also provides students with unparalleled work experience opportunities and enhances our careers education provision.
At Merchants’ Academy Secondary we care passionately about our students’ personal development. All students take part in regular Learning for Life lessons, which is how we deliver the PSHE curriculum. These lessons help students to stay safe and healthy and are designed to develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to prepare for life and work in modern Britain.