Citizenship at Ark Academy
At Ark Academy we are committed to developing active and engaged citizens, emphasized by the core value of ‘Civitas’ that permeates all aspects of school life. Although not taught as a discrete subject, our holistic approach to citizenship features prominently in specific subject curricula and through our extended curriculum; including PSHE, tutor time, assemblies and enrichment.
At Ark Academy we aim to build a community of civic pride and social justice and want all students to contribute fully to our democratic society. All teachers are at the forefront of our students’ personal and social development, and take responsibility for the broader development of each student. Various subjects play a key role in our citizenship provision.
The English curriculum at Ark Academy is rooted in a deep and rigorous engagement with citizenship. By understanding the systems and beliefs of the world around us we are able to engage more powerfully with the texts and topics studied. In return, by examining the lives of those before us and around us through literary texts, we build a deeper, more nuanced and more discriminating idea of what it means to be a citizen in our increasingly global community. Our curriculum is diverse and intersectional with students in each year group and key stage studying texts from a wide range of authors [see subject content mapping]. By examining fiction and non-fiction from such a diverse range of cultures, ethnicities and sexual orientations we facilitate deep and meaningful discussions around the ideas that underpin citizenship. In addition, our writing units of work are centred on current events and social justice issues, allowing students to develop a comprehensive knowledge of the issues that face their communities as well as affording them the power to discuss them with clarity. In year 7 students learn more about the concept of the welfare state, it’s importance to our lives today and the ways it supports our communities; in Year 8 students engage with broader social justice issues around the ‘black lives matter’ movement and diversity and representation in the media; and in year 9 students examine ideas of citizenship on a global level by studying the climate crisis, how it impacts indigenous communities and why it’s so important that we work together to protect them.(Subject Content 1-6) Acting as an umbrella over these specific curriculum features are our fertile questions. These are a feature embedded into the culture of the school which allow students to frame their knowledge in the context of broader and more existential ideas.
Over KS3 and 4 English students explore these topics through a range of issues such as hegemonic patriarchal power structures “What makes a good man?”; what impact different political systems have “Can society ever be truly equal?”, the pay gap and institutionalised poverty “How much does money really matter?” and the nature of mankind “does everyone have a tragic flaw?” (Subject Content 1 – 3 & 6).
Similarly, our History curriculum supports our pupils to develop their sense of place in the wider world and their sense of what it means to be a British citizen. All students study history throughout KS3 and approximately half go on to study history at KS4. The History curriculum embeds a deep understanding of political systems beyond democracy (our pupils learn about Communism via the Cold War and Fascism in their Germany unit at GCSE and learn about Monarchy throughout their Key Stage 3 studies) and our Key Stage 3 curriculum aims to build an understanding of Human Rights through topics such as Women’s Suffrage and the Civil Rights Movement.
There is further supplement via the Religious Education curriculum. All students study RE throughout KS3 and then go on to study RE at KS4. Topics including ‘Can I Know What is Right & Wrong?’ at KS3 and ‘Crime and Punishment’ & ‘Peace and ‘Conflict’ at KS4 provide students with the opportunity to explore these concepts against the backdrop of religious beliefs.
Our PSHE curriculum supports our pupils to develop their understanding of the political systems of democratic government in the United Kingdom as well as an understanding of how to manage their money. Students have PSHE lessons once per week as part of their curriculum. Via the theme of ‘Living in the Wider World’, our pupils focus on topics such as ‘Social Action’ and Financial Planning, with carefully planned objectives and resources from external providers including First Give [Social Action Programme] and the PSHE Association to ensure our pupils know more and can do more about these key topics over time. Through PSHE, all Year 8 pupils take part in First Give, a nationally recognised programme designed to inspire young people to make a positive change in society, which requires them to research and fundraise for a local charity
Through our Extended Curriculum, including assemblies, enrichment and tutor time, we continue our quest to broaden our pupils’ understanding of their role as citizens in the UK and in the world. We are passionate and proud members of North London Citizens and the wider Citizens UK organisation. This provides students with the opportunity to develop key leadership skills and apply them through local and national initiatives aimed at improving our community and ultimately making our society and fairer and safer place. Fundamental British values [FBV] feature throughout our assemblies programme and through our varied and rich pastoral themes such as Remembrance, anti-bullying week, black history month and Pride Week. This are an invaluable part of our approach to ensuring and inclusive and equitable school community.
At Key Stage 4, many pupils [over 50 for 2021/22] opt to take part in DofE where they have the opportunity to personally contribute to their local community through volunteering.
In Sixth Form, our Senior Student Officers include a Fundraising officer and an Equalities Officer. Alongside the formal leadership roles, all Year 12 students commit to our ‘Civitas’ Hour’, committing to one hour per week supporting or volunteering in an area of the school. This could include in-class support with younger students, supporting enrichment sessions, as part of our reading mentor programme or peer mentoring Yr11 students
Our tutor time curriculum includes a weekly ‘Beyond Ark’ session, devoted to the development of student oracy and cultural capital through the use of current affairs articles. Students learn about local, national and global affairs and have the opportunity to engage with healthy debate on these topics.
All of our teachers teach Citizenship via the PSHE and extended curriculum. The language of ‘Civitas’ and ‘Work Hard, Be Nice’ underpin all of our interactions with students and permeate each and every classroom. We believe that all teachers play an important role in the citizenship development of students.
Within PSHE lessons, our resources are centrally planned and overseen by a member of the senior leadership team. Our teachers have the opportunity to engage with these lessons in advance of delivery and where necessary and appropriate additional guidance and training is given.
In lieu of set Citizenship curriculum lessons, we have undertaken a National Curriculum Criteria Mapping exercise for Citizenship to indicate how our existing curriculum meets the aims set out by this curriculum.
Please click here for the Citizenship National Curriculum Mapping Table.