Psychology

What is Psychology?

Psychology is the study of the mind and behaviour. Research in psychology seeks to understand and explain thought, emotion and behaviour. Applications of psychology include mental health treatment, forensics and other areas affecting health and daily life. It is difficult to capture everything that psychology encompasses in just a brief definition, but topics such as development, personality, thoughts, feelings, emotions, motivations, and social behaviours represent just a portion of what psychology seeks to understand and explain.

Miss Borgers

Head of Psychology

Intent

This AQA A Level qualification offers an engaging and effective introduction to Psychology. Students will learn the fundamentals of the subject and develop skills valued by Higher Education and employers, including critical analysis, independent thinking and research. The specification reflects advances and changes in the subject curriculum and provides a coherent and holistic programme of study. At Weatherhead High School, sixth form students have the opportunity to access a high-quality Psychology curriculum that is both enjoyable and challenging. It is a fully comprehensive school, where the Psychology curriculum is accessible for all.

Case Study Example from department to illustrate inclusivity and success: A student had achieved GCSEs ranging from 3-6 in 2018 and was an EAL, disadvantaged student who took Psychology. In 2020, this student achieved a BC D* at A Level, which was an achievement at the top end of her target range and she went onto study Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University.

The Psychology course provides students with a broad understanding of the different psychological perspectives, an understanding of how people relate to each other in society, an understanding of biological and psychological processes and behaviours and broad practical applications from the theory. These include the ability to conduct psychological research, a greater awareness of the human condition and how best to approach and treat a range of human behaviours using biological and psychological therapies.

The purpose of our curriculum is to broaden students’ curriculum horizon in a subject that they have never studied prior to A Level. Psychology as a subject is very relevant in a diverse and ever-changing world and supports students in their ability to empathise with others and engage in deep thinking about the people around them. Students gain cultural capital in a number of ways through the curriculum. Students develop their literacy by broadening their vocabulary, which is achieved through class discussions, lesson resources and materials including; booklets, command term sheets, key terms sheets for each topic, textbooks and reading articles. Wider reading is also developing literacy where students read articles outside of lessons in preparation for discussion in lunchtime sessions. Class discussion in a variety of topic areas allows for stereotypes and assumptions to be challenged and in turn broadens student’s understanding of the world that we live in. Documentaries/media clips in lessons for example when looking at mental disorders allow students to have a greater appreciation and awareness of issues in society. Students have the opportunity to visit Liverpool Crown Court each year with the department to sit in court sessions in the public gallery. This helps to prepare students with learning the Forensic Psychology topic, but also provides an insight into possible career choices in the field of law and where their studies could take them beyond the A Level curriculum. It also provides students with an insight into the criminal justice and judicial system, an experience that is very insightful.

We aim for mastery that is embedded throughout the two-year course, engaging with strategies which help students to develop not only a deep but a secure knowledge and understanding of Psychology, which will enable students to build on their resilience, problem-solving skills and confidence in their learning journey and the progress that they make. The students are aware of what they are aiming to achieve in the curriculum and what their curriculum journey will look like.

The students will have regular informal and formal assessment opportunities to allow them to better understand how to achieve and make progress in Psychology, with opportunities embedded for students to reflect on their progress. Ultimately students will develop a love and appreciation for Psychology.

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Implementation

The A Level Psychology topic is taught by passionate subject specialists, who enable the students to clearly understand key concepts, by presenting information clearly and by clarifying understanding through discussion. The teachers in the department regularly check student understanding through formative and summative assessment where effective feedback and reflection time is provided.

The A Level Psychology SOW is taught in such a way that students get the best out of the AQA specification, by building on their knowledge, topics are taught in an order where regular mastery can be achieved, with interleaving opportunities.

The Approaches topic on paper 2 is taught first, which enables students to learn the foundations of the course (key beliefs), which feature across other areas of the course e.g. issues and debates and psychopathology, so will assist students in learning other topic areas.

The Research Methods topic is taught throughout the two years (1 lesson per week), as all topics within Psychology are developed through research. Research Methods is one of the big ideas from the A Level Psychology curriculum.

All paper 3 topics are taught in year 12, and these topics provide students with the opportunity for in depth learning, which enables students time to consider and master the content throughout year 12 and again in year 13. The Issues and Debates topic is taught first for paper 3, as this can be applied and discussed throughout any other topic areas. The Issues and Debates topic is another big idea in the curriculum, so students benefit from learning this topic near the start of their curriculum journey.

Paper 1 topics are taught in year 13, as these topics require less in-depth learning, so studying theses in year 13 allows students enough mastery practice.

The Biopsychology topic (Paper 2) is the last topic to be taught in year 13, as students will have some knowledge of this topic area already from GCSE Science, such as the nervous and endocrine systems and drawing graphs. Students studying Biology at A Level will also have covered some of the topic areas featured in Biopsychology, such as synaptic transmission and inferential statistical testing. Studying this topic last, will mean that students have a solid understanding of the course, which will help with their understanding of this topic, as well as learning it close to the actual paper 2 exam, which will aid recall.

The Psychology curriculum ensures that students have many opportunities for mastery and assessment to regularly check student’s understanding and strengthen the consolidation of material. Regular mastery takes the form of mastery starters, mastery in homeworks and assessments, weekly timed exam questions, informal mastery quizzes and independent study opportunities.Remote learning is used as part of the curriculum allowing all students access to their learning if they cannot attend school. Lessons are uploaded daily on Google Classroom in the same format as classroom lessons and includes the same resources, so that the curriculum is sequenced and implemented in the same way, with the same end points to be achieved.

Engagement is monitored by the department, to enable prompt and effective communication with parents and colleagues if they are any concerns. This departmental tracker allows for precise and regular monitoring of students that the department can access as a live document at all times.

Impact

The main source of impact in A Level Psychology will always remain the quality and breadth of work seen in student’s folders and the learning environment. There will be high expectations of learners’ engagement and the quality of work they produce from a meaningfully sequenced curriculum. The impact of our curriculum should also be measured by regular assessment both formally and informally through classroom questioning, homework, half-term assessments and progress updates. These allow the department to closely monitor the progress that our learners are making throughout the course and to implement the necessary support and encouragement that they need.Students know more, remember more and are able to do more and they are learning what is intended in the curriculum. 

The impact will continue to be seen in outcomes from the A Level Psychology exam performance in 2022 including students achieving their target grade or higher and student’s then progressing to the next stage of their education or employment. University destinations will demonstrate impact where a consistent or increased number of students apply and gain entry to study Psychology and/or a related subject/s. Students will finish the course having gained an excellent and thorough understanding and appreciation for Psychology and will be able to see its relevance and applicability to everyday life. All students including SEND and disadvantaged students will acquire the knowledge and skills to make progress, achieving their target grade or higher and will have the same opportunity to progress to higher education or employment. These students will also acquire cultural capital in order to succeed in life through extra curricular activities such as educational visits. 

The impact on our students will form part of the outstanding school impact to continue to achieve World Class accreditation. Ultimately the impact of the Psychology department will be measured by how effectively it helps our students develop into well rounded individuals who carry with them the knowledge, skills and attitudes which will make them lifelong learners and valuable future citizens.

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Is There Anything Else I Need To Know?

Prospective students must have achieved a level 5 or higher in English, Mathematics and Science. These requirements are reflected by an increase in mathematical skills being assessed in the psychology exams.

Students will have the use of a core text book and departmental booklets. There is also a variety of additional textbooks in the Psychology classrooms.

There are lots of options available for Psychology degree graduates, careers can be followed in the following areas:

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Educational Psychology
  • Criminal Psychology
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Occupational Psychology
  • Police
  • Social work
  • Teaching
  • Health care
  • Business and many more…

Why study at Weatherhead?

Psychology is an extremely popular subject at A Level here and we are one of the biggest subjects at A Level in terms of the number of students.

The Psychology department has excellent, subject specialist teachers that are dedicated to the success of the students.

Students enjoy their psychology course which is evident from student voice; including the engaging and creative lessons.

What is Psychology?

Psychology is the study of the mind and behaviour. Research in psychology seeks to understand and explain thought, emotion and behaviour. Applications of psychology include mental health treatment, forensics and other areas affecting health and daily life. It is difficult to capture everything that psychology encompasses in just a brief definition, but topics such as development, personality, thoughts, feelings, emotions, motivations, and social behaviours represent just a portion of what psychology seeks to understand and explain.

Miss Borgers

Head of Psychology

Psychology Learning Journey