Sociology Curriculum Intent

Sociology is an option subject in both Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 at John Henry Newman Catholic College. Sociology studies the people and institutions that we are surrounded by and the society that we live in and, as such, allows students to delve deeper into the world to explain social phenomena.  Cultural capital, a term that originated within the Sociological discipline,  is often spoken about within educational institutions and by studying Sociology students can identify barriers to meritocracy and analyse their effects to overcome the obstacles they face. 

Being in an area of high social deprivation, students are often faced with an amount of social injustice and blocked opportunities. Sociology allows students to see the reasons why this is and how it can be changed. Although, as an examined subject, we are driven by exam board specifications (WJEC at GCSE and AQA at A Level) to a certain extent, the Sociology department relates the concepts being taught directly to the needs of the learners that we serve in the community by explaining key concepts in relation to their everyday life as well as introducing the learners to contrasting experiences that they may not have any access to. This not only helps students to achieve highly within the subject but also raises their awareness of the world.

Within A Level Sociology, there are two optional units that we chose to deliver. These are Culture and Identity in Year 12 and Beliefs in Society in Year 13. We chose these units as they will give a broader understanding of Sociology to the learners and a wider knowledge than that of the GCSE compulsory units that will help them both in their future studies and careers. Being a Catholic College, and having a multi disciplined Sociology and RE teacher, the Beliefs in Society topic allows students to explore religion in a different light - looking at the role of religion in society. This ties in nicely with the Catholic Curriculum and values of the school. Personal identity is a postmodern phenomenon which is at the forefront of today’s society so by choosing this unit, we can ignite the interest and love of Sociology in students. 

We choose to enter learners for the AS Level Qualification so that they are motivated from the beginning of their studies and can leave at the end of Year 12 with a qualification if that’s what they choose. With the AS Level exam paper being a nice stepping stone between GCSE and A Level, students find the transition easier than jumping straight into the A Level. For this reason, we have designed the curriculum around the topics that students need to learn to be successful in the AS Level. The course is split between two teachers - each with their own specialism. The teachers take on their own topic throughout the year to enable a more in depth learning experience for the students. 

Overall, Sociology allows learners to have a critical understanding of contemporary society and social changes as well as being able to formulate well evidenced and supported arguments on a particular topic. By being able to carry out their own research, Sociology allows students to practically engage in the society around them to find outcomes to solve a particular social problem both at GCSE and A Level. Sociology learners can focus on their own personal identity, roles and responsibilities within society and develop a lifelong interest in social issues. These skills are easily transferred to a range of situations that students may find themselves in once leaving education. Sociology can be found in many different disciplines from studying literature in English to Politics, Education, Childcare all the way along the spectrum to the Sociology of Sport. A sociological learner has gained good analytical skills and an understanding of the world they live in.