The UCL Academy features a ‘Connected Curriculum’ that allows students to enhance their knowledge and understanding through weekly reflection and by making interdisciplinary connections.
A major aspect of this is the inclusion of Big Ideas and Grand Challenges, thematic research areas which are shared with students in teaching sessions, as well as weekly reflection sessions. The more students interact with the Big Idea and Grand Challenges, the more they are able to make deeper connections within and between their subject disciplines. This consilience, or ‘jumping together’ of knowledge then filters down into their house and individual ‘Reflection and Connection’ sessions (Foundation & L1). There, students are able to better articulate their learning in their subjects and are effectively facilitated to be able to make connections between subjects and prior learning.
The collective power of making these connections across the curriculum and at home should not be underestimated. As teachers, parents, form tutors and leaders, we have effective learning conversations with students, reminding and asking them about the Big Ideas and requesting they make regular connections.
We make the students accountable for the quality of their reflective work: a crucial aspect of The UCL Academy’s distinctive Connected Curriculum.
Students draw together their learning across the half term in relation to the Big Idea through a whole day ‘Exit Point’ activity and ‘Celebration of Learning’.
The Big Ideas for Foundation, Level 1 and Level 1+ are outlined below:
|Year group||Term: 1a||Term: 1b||Term: 2a|
|Foundation||Collaboration: When people work together they can achieve a common goal.||Discovery: Finding out new things is a human driver and affects things for better or worse||Balance: Things are more stable when different elements are in the correct or best possible proportions|
|Level 1||Competition: Trying to beat others has good and bad consequences||Communication: When information is shared accurately and clearly the end result is more effective||Tradition: Beliefs and customs from the past have a powerful effect on our lives today|
|Level 1+||Identity: Our sense of self, and that of others, is continually developing through our different interactions and impacts on how we exist in the world.||Leadership: For better or worse, one or more people can use inﬂuence so that others aid and support them.||Justice: A fair society is organised so that no one suffers unduly for the beneﬁt of others. Grand Challenge: Justice and Equality|
|Year group||Term: 2b||Term: 3a||Term 3b|
|Foundation||Resolution: Problems, disputes and contentious issues can sometimes be satisfactorily solved or resolved||Risk: Progress involves exposing ourselves to and considering the impact of danger, harm, uncertainty or opportunity||Adaptability: Adaptability is demonstrated by the ability to cope, alter or change with new circumstances or environments|
|Level 1||Resilience: Success over time requires persistence||Reflection: Complex decision making requires space and time||Curiosity: The desire to know more drives exploration and aspiration|
|Level 1+||Renewal: The end of a process is often the preparation for the beginning of something new||Enterprise: The ability to make money through development of products and situations appropriate to different markets requires application of certain skills||Grand Challenge programme begins: Transformative technology|