Primary curriculum

“Depth for Breadth “– One of the 6 Ark Pillars that underpin our school

A knowledge rich curriculum and promotion of a growth mind-set which is underpinned by the principles of learning.

All pupils will secure firm foundations in English and mathematics and this underpins excellence in the other subjects. Our curriculum is rigorous and knowledge-based which is reinforced by regular assessments that cumulatively build students’ knowledge. We offer a broad range of subjects from Early Years through to KS2. We believe in bringing learning to life, indoors and out, with an emphasis on engaging and purposeful learning.

Ark Academy aims to provide a curriculum that is engaging, balanced and rigorous. While emphasis is placed on children learning core skills of English and maths, we place great value on developing the “whole child” and provide an engaging programme of study for all curriculum areas. We have taken on board the National Trust’s “50 Things To Do Before You Are Aged 11¾” and have embedded these traditional, outdoor activities into our curriculum maps.

Our high expectation of children begins in the Early Years Foundation Stage. Children begin in Nursery and are regularly assessed against the Early Learning Goals. These assessments are used to identify key subject areas and focus children to be targeted for specific activities. Pupils begin phonics lessons in nursery and these continue through Reception into Key Stage 1. There is a focus on exploratory play in Reception in the afternoons based around topics and core texts, but in the morning all pupils take part in a full, 45-minute literacy lesson, maths lesson and phonics lesson.

In Key Stage 1, children continue their daily phonics lesson and add separate lessons in reading, writing and maths. Maths meetings begin in Key Stage 1 and discrete history, geography, art, PHSE, RE and science lessons. There is once again a strong focus on core skills of reading, writing and maths throughout the morning and children then study topic-based lessons for the wider curriculum in the afternoons.

In Key Stage 2, children continue the daily diet of rigorous teaching in maths, reading and writing and all children are expected to have fully finished the phonics programme (in some circumstances pupils may continue phonic input through fresh start). In year 5 and 6, focus gradually shifts to the end of Key-Stage assessments as children are prepared for these tests and the transition into year 7.

The Curriculum - Our Guiding Principles

Curriculum sequencing: Our curriculum has been carefully planned and sequenced, as we understand that knowledge and skills do not exist in isolation. The curriculum ensures that pupils are taught knowledge and skills in an order that allows them to make useful connections to prior learning and to embed key concepts into their long-term memory.

English and mathematics: All pupils secure firm foundations in English and mathematics and this underpins excellence in the other subjects. Our reading, writing and maths programmes bring challenge and rigour, and ensure that children go to secondary school with very strong foundations of academic achievement.

Mathematical fluency and confidence in numeracy is a key part of our mastery approach to mathematics. Pupils are given the time to fully explore mathematical concepts and challenge comes from investigating ideas in new and complex ways, rather than accelerating through new topics. Units of learning have been carefully sequenced year-on-year to ensure concepts are revisited and then built upon to pave the way for the most complex learning by the end of year 6. Pupils receive regular ‘maths meetings’ and efforts are made to make meaningful links to maths across the curriculum where appropriate.

‘Talk for Writing’ gives our pupils an in- depth knowledge of text structures, punctuation and grammar. Alongside this, pupils are given opportunities to write creatively and at length in English as well as across a range of subjects. Our KPIs are sequenced to ensure that children secure their knowledge of grammar, punctuation, composition, editing and transcription in each year group to become confident writers by the end of year 6.

Reading and vocabulary: Reading is prioritised and is taught as a stand-alone subject in key stages 1 and 2 through a robust ‘5-day’ reading model. Pupils are rigorously taught phonics each day in EYFS and KS1 and this provides a solid foundation of decoding and language comprehension skills necessary to access higher-level reading. We place a strong emphasis on the teaching of vocabulary- not only in reading and writing- but in all areas of the curriculum. Pupils are introduced to new vocabulary within contexts that stimulate their thinking. Vocabulary is revisited throughout the year and key stage in a wide range of subjects which allows pupils to gain a rich understanding of the meaning of the words encountered and a deeper understanding of the content being taught.

Humanities and Science: Our curriculum is rigorous and rich in knowledge and is based on engaging, linked and purposeful learning. We encourage the pupils to think about and approach their learning as a scientist, geographer or historian would by analysing evidence, drawing on prior knowledge and making intelligent inferences about new content learned.

Humanities themes run through key stages 1 and 2. These themes ensure that knowledge taught in previous year groups is built upon in a meaningful way in later units of study. Staff know and understand the themes, knowledge and skills in humanities and science and are able to make explicit links to both prior and future learning in lessons. High quality, challenging texts in reading, linked to the humanities curriculum, reinforce and extend pupils’ knowledge, enabling them to make links and embed new learning in their long-term memory.

The ‘whole child': We offer a broad range of subjects from Early Years through to KS2. We believe in bringing learning to life, indoors and out, with an emphasis on engaging and purposeful learning. 50 outdoor experiences have been woven seamlessly into the curriculum to ensure that every pupil completes all 50 things before they leave us at the end of primary school. Our pupils also benefit from a wide variety of trips, workshops and visitors, which enhance our curriculum. These include trips to the London Eye, Oxford University, the Science Museum and a year 6 residential in the Buckinghamshire countryside. Pupils also take part in a number of workshops including the Space Dome, Viking storytellers, Egyptian and Greek life and touring theatres. Our enrichment programme each Friday provides our pupils with a range of constructive sessions, aimed at developing skills to enrich the lives of our pupils, including: arts and crafts, languages, team games, health and fitness, sewing, crochet and board games. Themed weeks in art, STEM and health and fitness also give our pupils the opportunity to immerse themselves in subjects through hands-on, practical and engaging activities.

Curriculum equitability: Our flexible morning intervention model means that, through prior formative assessment, any pupils who need extra input are taken for interventions so that afternoon interventions are kept to a minimum. This ensures that no pupil misses out on any curriculum content as this is a key part of developing and deepening pupils’ understanding of the world around them. We believe it is vital that all pupils have access to a high- quality education and experiences. They should all have the opportunity to learn a rich body of knowledge, ensuring that they acquire key cultural and academic understanding to succeed in life.