Emily Simpson, Assistant Headteacher, Key Stage 3

I am Emily Simpson Assistant Headteacher of Key Stage 3. I am delighted to welcome you all. I have been part of the journey from setting up our first ever cohort that worked with students and parents and carers to develop a Key Stage 3 back in 2016.

Since then we started with a small cohort of 45 students and now subscribed with over 260 students/parents and carers who all believe in our school ethos as much as we do.

There will be many of you nervous to be making the next steps in learning and others who are raring to go, start fresh and embrace moving into a bigger school with a chance to explore specialist spaces. Whatever student you are or how you are feeling we (at Biddenham will ensure you all have the best start to secondary school).

At Biddenham we pride ourselves on our transitional curriculum, preparing students to move from year 6 into year 7 at secondary school. We understand it can be a daunting time for students and parents alike, and therefore we work closely with your child’s current school to build a personalised transition for the students. This comprehensive transition programme ensures your child is confident when they walk in on their first day of term as a year 7 student.

During their first year at Biddenham, students will mainly be based in the new purpose built year 7 block, however they will move to other area for lessons which require specialist facilities, for example PE, Design Technology and Science. We support students moving into year 8 by running a more flexible programme, with lessons gradually being based outside of the facility and students becoming more independent in their learning and confident in moving around the entire school. During the last half term in year 8 students explore GCSE subjects and future careers to prepare them for year 9, before we pass them to the Key Stage 4 team who then move them into their GCSE curriculum.

Throughout your child’s time in year 7 and 8 they will experience a connected curriculum which fuses together both core and creative subjects to engage, inspire and offer opportunities to experience real life learning, both inside and outside the classroom. Each term all topics are connected by a theme which enables students to make links between subjects that they may otherwise overlook. Creating these strong bonds between subjects helps students to problem solve and consolidate all of their knowledge.

Biddenham has a unique Key Stage 3 experience for students, which is inclusive, nurturing and personalised meaning that success for our students might not be the same outcome for all but students make individual progress which is more than they felt possible when they joined us.

‘We want every child at Biddenham to find their voice – metaphorically and literally.’ This is why the traditional curriculum is further enhanced by subjects such as Oracy.

Oracy means the ability to communicate effectively. At Biddenham we have worked closely with Voice 21, University of Bedfordshire and the University of Cambridge to continue to develop a rigorous oracy curriculum that is introduced in year 7 and is embedded as you grow as an individual, and through the school oracy is a moral cause. One of the biggest barriers for young people to get on is a lack of eloquence. Employers put good oral communication at the top of their requirements for employees. Yet we rarely teach it systematically in schools.

​Whilst research has found that good oracy leads to higher order thinking and deeper understanding, on average a child in a deprived area speaks no more than four words a lesson, at Biddenham we encourage every child to find their voice and be welcomed into classroom discussion to build confidence in learning and further develop literacy skills through purposeful talk in the classroom and beyond. Some of the projects you will encounter are regional and national debating competitions, student forums and the chance to take part in social action projects and presentations to win £1000 for a local charity. All of this happens in year 7 and 8.