This year the theme was genetic engineering & BFS came Runners-Up – Congratulations to all involved
Our curriculum, like everything at Bedford Free School, is guided by our values of respect, honesty and high expectations. This means we hold dear the belief that every single child and young person at our school is capable of achieving something great. By providing a rigorous, academic curriculum that is rich in carefully sequenced knowledge, our goal is to enable pupils to take their place in the community of educated citizens.
Respect is embodied in our curriculum through the high value we place on subjects and our teachers as experts in their subject areas. We want our pupils to have access to the best that has been thought and said, and with this in mind our teachers think carefully about what to teach and how best to teach it. We want pupils’ future options to be wide, so we do not narrow the curriculum. Instead, we ensure pupils are exposed to a wide body of knowledge through a full Key Stage Three curriculum over years 7, 8 and 9. We are not just concerned with preparing pupils for GCSE success: we also think carefully about those pupils whose formal study of a subject will come to an end in Year 9, and prioritise the knowledge that create well-rounded, well-educated individuals.
Honesty is demonstrated through our evidence informed approach to planning and teaching. We believe pupils are more likely to remember all they have learned if the delivery of that knowledge has been carefully sequenced and planned. We work hard to ensure our curriculum is coherent, with learning building over time, which enables pupils to attach new knowledge to old in a manner that is efficient and sustainable. This means our pupils make good progress through our curriculum and are well prepared for their next level of study.
High Expectations are evident through the rigorous academic focus of our curriculum. At GCSE level, the vast majority are entered for, and perform very well in, EBacc subjects. By ensuring broad coverage of academic subjects, we ensure all pupils of Bedford Free School are not only prepared for GCSE but for life afterwards, including sixth form study and a great university for those who wish to pursue such a goal.
Our expectation is that all of our pupils will be able to make the post-16 choice that is right for them. Continuing into further and higher education will require the highest standards of attainment in English and maths, and at Bedford Free School we are determined to achieve this for all of our pupils.
The Programme will provide students with a fantastic starting point as they begin their GCSE education, increasing the chances of achieving, and allowing graduating students to take the opportunities that fantastic Key Stage 4 success can bring.
On entry to the school, the literacy and numeracy ability of all pupils is assessed. Those pupils who need extra help are placed on an individual programme of intensive learning, developing their knowledge quickly and effectively to match, as a minimum, the expected standard for their age.
Extra time for students who need support with numeracy & literacy
All subjects packed full of knowledge
We are unashamedly academic, and as a result we want pupils to know a lot. We know that by knowing a lot in a variety of different subjects, our pupils can develop genuine creativity and critical thinking skills.
We publish the knowledge that pupils need to master in each subject every term. This helps pupils and parents when they need to revise. Our 100% books, which contain all of this knowledge, are hence hugely powerful.
DEAR stands for Drop Everything And Read. All pupils read a classic work of literature every day for half an hour, in a supportive group. Teachers model expressive reading and all pupils read out loud in turn whilst the whole class follows the text. Pupils who are weaker readers are able to do this in a supportive environment, and all BFS teachers have been trained by experts to deliver these group reading sessions.
As a result our pupils are confident reading even the most demanding language, which helps them to get to grips with the kind of sophisticated texts they will read at college and university. Even more importantly, it ensures they have the opportunity to experience the best that great literature has to offer: be introduced to vibrant characters, to explore exciting worlds, and to discuss weighty themes.
We ensure that these books are explicitly a part of the best that has been thought and said and in many cases might not be books that they would encounter or choose themselves. We really try to broaden our pupils’ horizons.
Our ‘Music for All’ scheme enables every child in Key Stage 3 to learn a musical instrument. Students will have whole-class violin or guitar lessons once a week. This is in addition to their weekly curriculum music lessons. Through, ‘Music for All’ every student will be taught how to read from musical notation as well as perform within an class ensemble; which are amongst some of the skills required when studying for their GCSE Music.
Bedford Free School are also privileged to be collaborating with the Salvation Army, for their ‘Just Brass’ programme, which offers all students the opportunity to learn a brass instrument at no cost. Students rehearse twice a week in preparation for many concerts throughout the year. Currently, we have our own Bedford Free School brass band of 40+ players.
Pupils are therefore able to join our school orchestras very easily and have enormous numbers of opportunities to perform to parents and the community.
At BFS we encourage all our students to have a full and active involvement in sport.
In the PE department we strive to give students as many sporting opportunities as possible and are proud of the high numbers of students we have participating.
Students at BFS go offsite for PE lessons to venues such as the International Athletics Stadium, Bunyan Centre double sided sports hall and Kings Oak Primary school. This gives our students top class facilities in which to learn.
We aim to include every student at BFS in school fixtures each year. If a student wants to represent the school in a fixture then they will represent the school. Fixtures run every day at BFS throughout the school year, for every year group and gender.
BFS has a proud tradition of leadership in sport. Students from all year groups have the opportunity to visit local primary schools and lead on different community sports events in order to develop their leadership skills.
The PE department run numerous sports trips each year to expose students professional sport and venues. Students can expect to visit MK Dons, Northants CCC and MK lightning Ice Hockey for matches plus take part in stadium tours of world renowned venues such as Wembley Stadium and Lords.
Bedford Free School believes that pupils should have access to a wide range of experiences.
While we believe that exam success is really important, we also believe that the focus of a great school curriculum should extend pupils experiences. In many schools, these are after-school or lunchtime clubs. We think these are of great value.
Our enhanced curriculum, in the form of electives, has been shaped around these beliefs. However, to guarantee participation and widen access for all of our pupils, our clubs are compulsory. We think they are so important that they make up an integral part of our school day in which everyone is expected to take part in. We therefore make sure that no child misses out.
Electives are specific to Bedford Free School and these are something that we are very proud of as we feel that they help to create not just academic but well rounded students. Electives are after school clubs which take place within the timetabled curriculum and provide the students with an incredibly broad range of activities that would not be possible to deliver in a normal after school setting. As electives are during the school day, every student at BFS has the opportunity to take part no matter their circumstances.
These activities change each term to give students more choice and experience. Electives give staff at BFS the opportunity to share their skills and expertise from outside of school plus a wide range of external supplier’s supplement what can offered to BFS students.
Rowing, Poetry, Foreign Language Leaders, Code Club and Sports are just a small sample of the electives available.
These high-quality enrichment opportunities include a rich programme of sporting activities, extended projects and community-based service.
Upon graduating from Bedford Free School, pupils will have experienced success in their GCSEs. Through our morning address and experience of the enhanced curriculum, and the knowledge that we pack into the academic curriculum, they will also be leaving us as well-rounded individuals ready to make a difference to their community and to society in general.
In short they will be ready both for university and to make a difference in the community and in the nation.